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November 24, 2003

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Seattle, once known as the grunge capitol of the world, is once again surging forth as the city where originality is born, having in recent years giving birth to such eclectic and varied acts as The Blood Brothers, Minus The Bear, Harkonen and Pretty Girls Make Graves. Amidst this cyclone of talent and creativity has risen These Arms Are Snakes, an artsy post-punk whirlwind that incorporate traces of hardcore and prog rock that recalls the energy of late 80's D.C. Punk. Built by former members of Kill Sadie, Nine Iron Spitfire and local mathcore icons Botch, the band have quickly caused a commotion in the independent scene and look to continue doing so with their impressive debut EP, "This Is Meant To Hurt You".

These Arms Are Snakes have embraced the atonal noise rock textures that once aided The Jesus Lizard in becoming one of the underground's hottest commodities, a fact that surely seems fitting considering the band's admittance of such inspirations; Yet rather than imitate the legendary cult rockers, these men learn and expand upon such stylistic choices. Vocalist Steve Snere has a heavily distorted vocal range, often raving with unintelligible rasps of intensity reminiscent of David Yow's, yet there are also subtleties that hark to the epic tones of Robert Plant or gritty sneer of The Dwarves. The group are often caught in groove-laden jams, indulging in dizzying moments of space rock that are the equivalent to Cave In's more adventurous sensibilities, propelled forward by mid-tempo shifts and Brian Cook's mesmerizing low-end thrust. Caustic yet rhythmically seductive, this is an album that quickly overwhelms those listening, whether it be courtesy of their eccentric spaz direction or earthy Fugazi-like undertones. Thanks to these influences and more, the band find themselves a cut above such groups as ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead and Sparta, capturing the very essence of today's complex art rock movement while saturating their sound with a myriad of signature trademarks.

It comes as little surprise how mature and confident the group is in their sound when considering their individual accomplishments, yet it is still refreshing to come across an ensemble so sure in their technique. This makes for an invigorating album that capitalizes on its strengths, daring to challenge the listener with no fear of rejection or error. At once soothing and captivating but always with an air of punk urgency, "This Is Meant To Hurt You" is a triumphant debut from a band capable of transcending mere genre classification. This makes These Arms Are Snakes a richly textured avant-garde hardcore quintet with the potential to lead the reborn Seattle scene into the future.

(4 / 5)


Jason Doe