Sound — 9
These Arms Are Snakes is a band from Seattle, the members a combination of other acts such as Kill Sadie, Nineironspitfire, and Botch. To pigeon-hole TAAS's sound into one specific genre would be a task to difficult and ultimately fruitless to attempt, the best I can think of is old school MC5 style rock and roll through the veins of a post-hardcore band. They certianly have the attitude, with a sound that's very intense, straight-forward, and the most original that I've heard in years. Isn't that what sets bands apart from their peers? There is not a more unique or original recording to be found in 2006, which makes this band so hard to describe. Most of the time you can describe a band by comparing them to their contemporaries, but not TAAS. In my eyes they have none. There is not one band on the planet that has captured anything close to the sound achieved on this disc. The guitars are sharp and gritty, one second cutting through the noise the next guiding it; transitioning from heavy, driving riffs one moment (see "Mescaline Eyes") to soaring, melodic leads the next (See "Crazy Woman Dirty Train"). The guitars do an excellent balance of the two, writing some great riffs and some even better lead parts. The bass is also phenomenal, which switches between clear, crisp clean channeled bass to distorted fuzz. The bass lines that are written are disruptive, and follow their own flow while keeping in tune with what is happening around them. Unlike most bands, who's bassist is low-key and just doubling the rhythym guitar, the bass here blazes it's own path, often times becoming it's own riff machine as the guitar takes on licks and leads (see "Horse Girl" and "Subtle Body"). The drums on this album are great as well, very tight in execution and very bombastic and driving in style. The drums use off timing for most of the album, rhythyms snaking between down tempo patterns and in your face intensity, my favorite example being the finale in "Crazy Woman Dirty Train". The rhythym guides the music through this off timing riff, to an epic-feeling breakdown, and break out in absolute insanity at the end of the song. It is truley a sight (or for that matter, sound) to behold. There is also an amount of keyboards used, but down be turned off by this, they are used effectively and efficiently. Songs like "Deer Lodge", which must use some kind of keyboard effects to achieve the sound, and pump organs on tracks like "Coporeal" and "Perpetual Bris" fit very nicely. The swirling pallete of styles used here creates a sound and atmosphere all it's own, bringing in the quiet with the loud and the bombastic with the subtle. The entire album really has an atmospheric feel to it, as if all the tracks are connected somehow. Every memeber in the band knows their role, and are on the same page all of the time. This makes the music feel organic and flow very nicely, each member contributing a great deal of talent to fill all the right places. In this, TAAS are very sucessful in creating a sound untouched and unmatched by anyone in modern music today.
Lyrics — 9
Steve Snere is a vocalist that understands limits and energy, and pushes each to their full potentials. He uses intenisty in his singing when he has to, and he tones down his voice when has has to. He, like the rest of the band, carries unique qualities in his style and execution, he doesn't carry the brand of every post-hardcore screamer and whiner, instead creating a vocal style that is somewhat reminicent of Dennis Lyxzen, but more melodic. His lyrics are also refreshing, digging deep into the social and religious questions posed by modern society. They are interesting and engaging, but not in a way that is annoying and cheap, as most band who take a stab at these topics show can be done, but instead subtle and thoughtful. The vocals and lyrics are another big plus for this album, as they are engaging and visionary, songs with meaning that don't have to just act like it.
Overall Impression — 10
This is, far and away, one of most unique and rewarding listens of 2006, a terribly overlooked effort by a band that is striving to do something different. In the tradition of refused and fugazi, TAAS take a tired genre of hardcore and post-hardcore music, where the loudest band wins, incomprehensible screaming and monotonous lyrics are mistaken for meaning, and you can re-write the same riffs for 45 minutes and call it an album, and completely re-invent it. This is a band with vision and talent, and instead of recycling old ideas and re-hashing what's been done, they re-invent themselves with each note, and completely overhaul a genre.