For most people, heavy music loses its appeal as they grow older. Though hardcore and metal may have gotten many a person through those tough times in high school, after college, nobody in his right mind would want to hang out in front of an all ages club with his buds, blasting All Out War from his van. Chalk it up to maturity or a mellower pace of life, but hardcore just isn’t the same when you’re over legal drinking age.
But there’s always an exception. Drive Like Jehu, though they were louder than the Almighty, will be forever cool. And right now, I might even say the same for Seattle’s These Arms Are Snakes. Much like Jehu, These Arms adapt the conventions of hardcore into a peculiar, yet totally badass type of heavy rock. That said, TAAS are not a hardcore band. They are however, really goddamn loud.
“The Shit Sisters,” which opens their new full-length, Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home (breathe…), immediately recalls Jehu’s “Here Come the Rome Plows,” with its odd, 5/4 time signature and chunky guitar assault. However, the song moves into space rock breakdowns, twisting and turning into different directions over the course of three minutes. The next track, “Angela’s Secret” is even more interesting, fusing atmospheric guitar feedback with electronic effects and deafening metal riffs. In fact, let’s just get this out of the way right now. There aren’t any songs on this album that don’t have loud guitars, save for the two one-minute segues on each side.
But who doesn’t appreciate some loud ass guitars? I know I do. And certainly These Arms Are Snakes do as well. “Big News” and “Greetings from the Great North Woods” are more straightforward, in the vein of Fugazi, and as could be expected, are big on mega distorted riffs. But “La Stanza Bianca” shows a weirder side of the band, as they experiment with baroque sounding keyboards and a near-goth sound. But “Darlings of New Midnight” returns to a more straightforward structure. In what may be the heaviest song on the album, the band delivers one of its most accessible tracks. While the verse is edgy and agitated, the chorus bursts into super low-end mayhem, like Queens of the Stone Age on steroids. Lots of `em. Just when you think the band is ready to slow it down on final track, “Idaho,” the band rages into a sinister waltz that’s one part At the Drive-In, one part carnival sideshow and one part “Rock Lobster.”
I may not be a teenager anymore, and I certainly haven’t listened to Snapcase or Will Haven in some time. But These Arms Are Snakes are enjoying frequent spins in my cd player and probably will until my hearing goes.
Fugazi – In on the Kill Taker
At the Drive In – Relationship of Command
Drive Like Jehu – Yank Crime
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.