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Music Review: These Arms Are Snakes – Tail Swallower and Dove

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There is an urgency and a coarseness to These Arms Are Snakes, the post-hardcore outfit out of Seattle. Comprised of former members of Botch, Kill Sadie, and Nineironspitfire, this is one solid quartet and their latest, Tail Swallower and Dove, may blow out your windows.

The record works as a whole, coming across as an incessant piece of music without room for breathing. The best advice I can give is to take a deep lungful of air and hold on to something as These Arms Are Snakes unleash a barrage of harsh drums, crunching bass, pounding guitars, and Steve Snere’s blistering vocals.

Tail Swallower and Dove is a journey, one with depth and passion. It structured well, each song melding into the next in a sonic salvo of noise and composition. The music is textured, resonating vociferously with Ryan Frederiksen’s guitars and keyboards providing layers of sound and Brian Cook’s bass unfolding beneath the shell. Chris Common’s percussion is vibrant, equal parts poignancy and bash-and-crash enormity.

Perhaps one of the most compelling things about TAAS is their meticulousness. This is a tight unit, one that operates with focus and concise musicality. There is never a wasted gesture, never an over-baked fragment.

Case in point: album opener “Woolen Heirs” moves in with a undulating approach as drums surge and tear when the driving guitar forces itself into the middle. Snere’s vocals bellow over the tussle, pulling each member of the band into the composition. It has all the drive of an anthem… a big, loud, kickass anthem.

Produced and engineered by Chris Common in Seattle’s Red Room, this is an album with a will to live and a stronger will to be heard. While I had not heard anything by TAAS prior to sliding this one in the player, I can assure you that their merciless, critical delivery had me longing for more.

The 7:33 “Ethric Double” does everything an epic song should, coursing through the veins with pounding bass and drums and winding with dark atmosphere until it reaches its breaking point. Common’s snare is attention-grabbing, accenting the wave of guitar and punching out light bulbs as the song ventures down a murky corridor to its unavoidable culmination.

Atmosphere is far from all TAAS has to propose here, however. Snere’s shout-sing-shout intonations have a lot to offer beneath the fray, hitting themes of death, sex, and everything in between with astuteness and exigency. Listen to the way he shouts and snaps his way through the adamant “Seven Curtains.”

Tail Swallower and Dove finds TAAS with no fear of experimenting, moving from the necessity of “Seven Curtains” right into the cyclic, swirling effects of “Long and Lonely Step” without missing a beat. And “Cavity Carousel” is a near-hallucinogenic track with vocal experimentation and valiant percussion.

Overall, I was incredibly impressed with Tail Swallower and Dove. These Arms Are Snakes are a post-hardcore quartet to be reckoned with, melding experimental noise with driving rock urgency to formulate a fulfilling and persuasive ten songs. I, for one, am looking forward to getting my hands on the imminent TAAS/Pelican and TAAS/Russian Circles split albums, both due out later this year.

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About Jordan Richardson