These Arms Are Snakes

Easter

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Don't let the title fool you. There are no bowtie-wearing bunnies, colored eggs, or model families arm-in-arm on their way to Sunday mass to be found on These Arms Are Snakes' sophomore full-length, Easter. The holiday as questioned here is much more dismal and corrupt, threatening religious and desert imagery poetically wound through jerking rhythms, discordant fuzz, and trembling riffs, and delivered through the heated bark of Steve Snere. His thoughts aren't always the most discernible -- a look through the lyric sheet finds lines like "Conceptive city soon to contract and birth a child of its own rats" and "You may say God's got it in for us but I'm not sure if he's really anywhere to be found" -- but the bitter force through which they're spit out gets the point across regardless. The Seattle troupe continues to mash post-hardcore with noise rock and mathy song structures that astringently contrast calm and harsh settings to keep listeners constantly on edge. Echoing keys resonate murkily through dense backgrounds, unconcerned with whatever else is going around them. And without their own spoken word, the guitars and drums have no choice but to voice agreement with the tortured observations of Snere by pointedly rising and falling, emanating an unquestionable intensity of their concurring distress. This intensity is pretty solid throughout -- even calmer stretches, like the second half of "Corporeal" and the instrumental "Desert Ghost" (which sounds like a creepy video game backdrop that's weirdly soothing), remain ominous. But while the overall album is good enough, on the song level it's almost so consistent that many tracks ultimately blur together, nothing really distinct about them amid the band's own abstruse formula of attack. Fans will no doubt find much to revel in, but for the uninitiated, an entire run through Easter has the potential to grate on one's nerves. These Arms Are Snakes is banking that you'll stick with it over multiple listens to uncover their message within -- and though it's a deserving one, whether you really want to is your choice.

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