Review Summary: An undeniably cool release from Seattle's most underrated band.
On their third full-length album, Seattle post-hardcore supergroup These Arms Are Snakes once again push the boundaries of what can fit under the seemingly infinite sub-genre in which they belong. The quartet has accumulated its share of (much deserved) good press, and its members’ résumés read like a who’s who of the Seattle scene’s icons, with bassist Brian Cook’s stint in metalcore legends Botch and Steve Snere having lent his trademark strained vocals to the sadly short lived Kill Sadie. And while the latter of those two acts is somehow connected to just about every Seattle indie musician like some freak Kevin Bacon experiment, it is TAAS who have proven to be the leaders in all that is loud, chaotic and oddly catchy in their hometown.
In keeping with a steady two-year album cycle, the guys have delivered yet another collection of pulsing, energetic songs that, while hinting at heaviness, comes across as danceable. Where Tail Swallower and Dove truly splits from its two predecessors is in its ability to balance rhythm and groove with the band’s instantly recognizable guitar histrionics. The youthful energy of Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home is still present in the push-pull riffing of album opener “Woolen Heirs” and the crushing chorus of “Red Line Season,” and Easter’s psychedelic soundscapes are sprinkled throughout “Seven Curtains” and most of the second half of the disc, but Tail Swallower and Dove brims with a sense of urgency and confidence not often seen in post-hardcore. Though there’s always been something different about TAAS, a certain attitude and reputation they’ve always maintained, especially live. If Death Cab for Cutie’s penchant for storytelling and pop hooks makes them the Beatles of the Seattle scene, and Minus the Bear’s trippy finger tapped guitar and willingness to play in anything but simple 4/4 makes them its Pink Floyd, then These Arms Are Snakes are the Rolling Stones, all sensuality and swagger; the kind of guys who would jump out of the window and dress in the driveway the morning after a show just to avoid any awkward conversation.
Tail Swallower and Dove doesn’t surprise with its 10 (11 if you’re a Japanese fan) tracks of rhythmic, hip swinging rock. Who knows what we’ll here from these dudes next. If the synth intro to “Lucifer” and foreboding distorted bass of “Lead Beater” is any indication, it will once again be equal parts punishing and seductive.