Monday, February 19, 2007

These Arms are Snakes - Easter

For those familiar with Seattle’s “These Arms Are Snakes,” nothing extremely new, vital or groundbreaking will be found on their new record, Easter. The record’s production treads the same ground as their past two efforts as guitarist Ryan Fredericksen’s innovative licks continue to practically drone out singer Steve Snere’s yelps. Drummer Joe Preston, formerly of the revolutionary bands “Earth” and “the Melvins,” continues to provide excellent skilled beats and fills, constantly reminding the listener of his presence. However, if the band did indeed strive for a new sound on Easter, merely one listen undoubtedly proves that they stuck to the same formula that has defined their sound over the past few years.
Regardless of such negative comments, Easter may please old fans of the band in the argument that if they had indeed changed their sound to a discernible extent, it would probably be very dreadful. “These Arms Are Snakes,” despite their clearly idiotic band name come from a scene with a history of breeding strange, original and successful “indie” bands such as “Pretty Girls Make Graves,” “the Blood Brothers” and “Minus the Bear.” “Snakes” fits in with these bands with their use of bizarre and often meaningless lyrics, (if anyone can explain the meaning of the lines, “What was found on the wall was written by a third grader and read “I was found like molten rats in your city unkept,” I’ll take it all back.) Also assisting in their strange persona are keyboards, their tendency to tour with pioneering bands such as “Isis” and “Planes Mistaken for Stars,” and their secret weapon in guitarist Ryan Fredericksen. Prior to “Snakes” Fredericksen played in the seminal math-core band “Botch,” famous for pioneering a heavy sound with precise and uncanny time signatures somewhat similar to that of “the Dillinger Escape Plan.”
While tracks from Easter such as “Child Chicken Play,” “Lady North” and “Crazy Woman Dirty Town” (there are those horrible lyrics again) do indeed explore new melodies musically; others fall short in such endeavors. Two songs, “Subtle Body” and “Corporeal” each run between six and seven minutes. It’s not the length of these songs that kill them; it is the fact that they drag on, quite literally, without anything happening. In the band’s two efforts prior to Easter there are likewise two songs on each record that run anywhere from five minutes to eight minutes. These songs however do not bore the listener as the new ones do. Their centerpieces are incredible crescendos that erupt in violence and fury by their ends, most notably in “Drinking From the Necks of the Ones You Love.”
It seems as if “These Arms Are Snakes” have backed themselves into a corner with their music and are left to write the same songs over again, without the emphasis on originality that made them so remarkable in the first place. Unfortunately with Easter many people will be hearing the band for the first time and hopefully will not be turned off by the record. This band is excellent, both live and on their previous records. Don’t let their mistake with this record ruin your perception of them, even if with future efforts they do prove to be a band of the past.

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