November 20, 2006
THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [I]EASTER[/I] REVIEW
If your arms are snakes then are you related to or somewhere within Medusa's extended bloodline?
But seriously folks, anybody who is a frequent reader of Treble knows that our skipper Jeff Terich, when not stuffing people into gym lockers and vigorously bitch slapping those whose musical tastes differ from his, always manages to insert a witty and clever tagline under the album's title when listed on the site. When TAAS's previous album Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When It's Antelope Go Home was reviewed here two years ago, the tagline was "Hardcore for grown-ups." That alone said it about TAAS. You don't have to be "grown-up" per se to enjoy TAAS but it does take another kind of attention span than your usual hardcore fan—who's about 30 pounds overweight and has hockey pucks in their ears—or those brutish dudes with no necks who think that you're only as hardcore as the amount of tattoos you have. While they may take more than one listen to get into, this is a band that is most rewarding and is paving a new trail for the genre. There is something truly compelling about the protracted guitars and singer Steve Snere's blistering take on melody. While TAAS's members are in no way newbies at what they do, with Snere having been in Kill Sadie and with bassist/keyboardist Brian Cook having served his time in math rock pioneers Botch, all them (including new drummer Chris Common who also produced) play like they're young and hungry and out to show everybody something different.
While not quite a concept album as much as a vibe that meanders around it, Easter is infused mostly with themes about the never ending locking of horns between honor and destruction with hints of the religious right being placed smack dab in the middle. Numbers include the fluctuant "Subtle Body" that amounts to a wobbly ass kicking and the scratchy "Desert Ghost" with a bobbling layer of feedback fizzing throughout. The most unified of Easter's moments comes in the form of "Child Chicken Play" as the stringy guitars droop and fall while Common gets sparse with his drum patterns before the band as a whole crunches everything together out of leftfield to send a jolt to the listener as Snere screams "Like you always do!"
Even though TAAS is most consistent with jerky rhythms and punchy tempos, they can still throw down rallying cries and chants in the hooks that make the listener want to pump their fists in the air in the true old school hardcore fashion. Cook's bass is pretty much at the epicenter in terms of how this band has evolved, as well as guitarist David Knutson, who seems to favor keeping his pickups nearby when executing a riff. It's as if TAAS has gotten a massage, so to speak, within the last two years, which explains their looser and more sparse playing style. But like any good snake, its steadfastness makes it quick to bite when you least expect it.
Clutch – Passive Restraints
Waxwing – One for the Ride
Icarus Line – Red and Black Attack
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