October 16, 2004
THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [I]OXENEERS OR THE LION SLEEPS WHEN ITS ANTELOPE GO[/I] REVIEW
In its '80s heyday, American hardcore promised to develop into something much more interesting than today's whiny emo, filled as it is with lyrics lifted from a depressed teenager's diary. A number of acts like Unwound, Drive Like Jehu and the Blood Brothers have fulfilled that promise, adding their own technical prowess, metal chops and white noise to the hardcore template. On their ridiculously titled debut album, Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home, Seattle's These Arms Are Snakes offers a handful of cathartic, fractured anthems that almost make the cut. Featuring ex-members of Minneapolis's Kill Sadie and the seminal Botch, blistering aggression was expected. "Your Pearly Whites" builds into a series of maniacal drum fills, cresting with a fist-pumping game of start/stop, and the epic "Idaho" is a punk tent revival as propulsive as Jawbreaker's "Bivouac." Even more satisfying, though, are the unexpected shots of restive pump organ, spindly noise arias and ethereal drone. Some tracks lag under the weight of the quartet's ambition, but even when they fail, These Arms Are Snakes have produced an engaging collection that goes a long way to prove contemporary hardcore needn't be for dummies and crybabies.
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