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October 31, 2006

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The chilly month of October is half over, and while most people may be looking forward to the spooky thrills of Halloween, These Arms Are Snakes are giving us the gift of “Easter” instead- and their second full-length on Jade Tree Records was certainly worth the two year wait. Even though I wouldn’t say that “Easter” is a huge step away from the content of 2003’s “This Was Meant To Hurt You” EP or 2004’s “Oxeneers, or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home,” it certainly embodies the spirit and passion of both previous releases but delivers every song to a new level of perfection. These Arms Are Snakes’ unique brand of raucous post-hardcore implements heavy side-winding guitars, Steve Snere’s menacing vocals, complexity of song structure and an overall chilling atmosphere that will draw listeners in for good. It’s about time this band gets the recognition it deserves.

These Arms Are Snakes was founded in 2003 with the union of ex-members from Seattle’s notable math/metal rockers Botch, as well as Nineironspitfire, and Minneapolis’s Kill Sadie. Because of the member lineup’s notoriety, the band has struggled in finding its own identity- but each new release has proved that TAAS is capable of creating music that has an influential sound of its own. Their live show is incredible as well- I got hooked on TAAS last year after catching them on tour with their Seattle buddies Minus the Bear. I was impressed by their formidable stage energy which included Snere climbing atop trash cans to spew his hostile message while towering above the audience.

Don’t let the title “Easter” fool you because it is most likely poking fun at religious enthusiasts rather than seriously referencing the resurrection of Christ. Snere is quoted in Rock Sound Magazine saying, “No guy who claims there was this huge flood and some dude built a boat full of fucking animals is in a position to tell me that my life is wrong,” while guitarist Ryan Fredericksen has told Alternative Press that, “It seems really odd to me that Christianity is such a big deal in punk rock right now.” But whether or not you’re into religion doesn’t make a difference because “Easter” is still an album meant for everyone’s ears to hear. TAAS spent the last year meticulously working on the record and their hard work has paid off. “Easter” was recorded in Seattle at Red Room Recording by TAAS’s new drummer Chris Common, who also took over the title of producer.

The album’s first track “Mescaline Eyes,” begins with a down tempo distorted intro that explodes into an aggressive rock ?°»n’ roll guitar riff as Snere’s spiteful snarls fill the air. This is the perfect track to set example for the rest of the album, and combines staccato guitar riffs with eerie synth to complete the package. The album’s single, “Horse Girl” continues in the same fashion with energetic guitar riffs, heavy bass, and technical yet groovy drum beats. I would say that “Subtle Body” is the highlight of the album because of the intricate guitar parts and grueling tension that builds as Snere wrathfully chants over and over, “Reorder / redirect / stop fighting / disinfect / cold skin / implements / warm feeling / in the neck.” Listening to this song makes me feel like I’m part of a fist-pumping riot as the chanting builds up into a tremendous breakdown and orgasm of sound. Commons does a stellar job drumming on this album; there are many drum fills where his talent is brought to the front and captured my attention. After “Subtle Body” the album breaks from the action for a slow interlude of distorted keys and drumming before hitting you with the pensive keyboard and guitar combo of “Child Chicken Play.” “Deer Lodge,” is a rollercoaster of dynamic sound with its competing layers of guitar and synth, along with Snere’s ever impending emotion. “Lady North” brings you back to TAAS’s dirty, grimy style displaying Frederiksen’s southern guitar riffs while “Perpetual Bris” is completely unexpected but shows how versatile TAAS can be with its slow wistful tune, melancholy accordion, and insightful lyrics. “You were born of sin / and if that ain’t a curse / then I don’t know what is.” “Easter” ends on a hard, direct note with the technical guitar work and drumming of “Crazy Woman Dirty Train.”

Overall I thought this album was a great follow-up to “Oxeneers.” These Arms Are Snakes have proved that they can retain a standout sound of their own, and have figured out how to improve upon that sound with each new album. This is one band that is truly distinguishable in today’s dying music scene of poppy emo/screamo artists- These Arms Are Snakes know how to keep it real.

Overall Rating: 8.5

Emotional Punk

Carolyn Brennan