These Arms Are Snakes

Tail Swallower and Dove

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    7
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More direct than These Arms Are Snakes' first two releases, Tail Swallower and Dove racehorses angrily out of the gates in a tightly harnessed fury. Maintaining restraint and removing meandering interludes from their equation, the post-hardcore quartet holds strong in an unwavering speakercone-shaking volume. Rather than throwing in the atmospheric splash as they did on Easter, the only dynamic shift here is from loud to louder. Vocalist Steve Snere helps to determine the slight difference in decibels by alternating between a snide Afghan Whigs whine to a full-throttled At the Drive-In screech on the choruses. For the most part, the album fits the bill as a post-hardcore/metal explosion of heavy-handed beats and nimble guitar work that doesn't sound all that far removed from albums released on Dischord and Headhunter in the '90s. Chris Common is a skilled producer, playing the role of a Steve Albini-type, who concentrates on strict engineering rather than adding too much production. This gives the record a timeless quality: not too raw, not too slick, with close attention to sonic detail and only the occasional piece of additional flair. Even with moments of vocoder and distorted synth blasts, he's careful not to obstruct the rock grooves, which act as the cornerstone for the album, blending and building from song to song. Common also acts as a hell of a drummer, blasting out skittering fills and providing interesting razor-sharp rhythmic interplay between Ryan Frederiksen and Brian Cook. With nimble hammer-on riffs and a driving ominous intensity of distorted crackle and cymbal smashes, it pays ample tribute to trailblazers Fugazi and Drive Like Jehu. As a listen, the record is focused, but also pretty exhausting, which is probably the primary intention of These Arms Are Snakes: to bludgeon listeners into submission.

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