Review Summary: There's more than one screamo band in Japan...
Two things to note when listening to Heaven in Her Arms. Firstly, the band's namesake is from a song off of Converge's legendary "Jane Doe" album. As awesome as this may be, don't be lulled into thinking the two bands share many similarities. Secondly, it's nearly impossible not to draw comparisons between them, and their fellow countrymen, Envy. Yes, Heaven in Her Arms, like Envy, hail from the "Land of the Rising Sun," and both play a distinctive brand of post rock tinged screamo. Lengthy tunes, harsh vocals, and an all around moody atmosphere are all in check, so it's safe to assume that it's no mere coincidence. Although Heaven in Her Arms overall sound has been permeated by Envy's influence (who was in turn influenced by their tour mates, City of Caterpillar), that doesn't mean the band is without their own style. In fact, Heaven in Her Arms have quite a lot offer, even if they wear their influences on their sleeves.
As stated, Heaven in Her Arms play a very particular brand of screamo. While not overly groundbreaking, parts of "Paraselene" are truly brilliant. It's moody as hell, and the atmosphere is incredibly dark, which really helps the overall feel of the album. Aside from the fantastic mood, the album just feels great moving from song to song. "Echoic Cold Wrist" is actually a build up in itself, which flows seamlessly into "Halcyon," the very dramatic climax. "Veritas," is the album's closer, and arguably it's highlight. It boasts an incredible violin solo, which leads into a very subtle, yet very beautiful piano/guitar segment. On the instrumental side of things, the band knows how to make great use of their hardware. While they don't outright showcase great feats of technical proficiency, they truly know what works best, and when. Between the subtle background work with the guitar, and the wonderful drumming, the guys in Heaven in Your Arms clearly have some musical chops.
When Heaven in Her Arms are on, they can more than hold a candle up to their contemporaries. As mentioned earlier, parts of "Veritas" alone are worth giving the album a listen. Yet "Paraselene" is not without it's faults. Vocally, the lead singer lacks the passion and emotion of many of his contemporaries, and frankly, can be rather grating at times. His screams sound like a mesh between Jacob Bannon and Tetsuya Fukagawa, with less than desirable results. Another large downer is the song, "Echoic Cold Wrist." It's a very relaxed, nine minute piece, offering little to no interest musically. There is some mildly intriguing drum play going on, but other than that, the piece consists of a talking vocal track. The vocal track is entirely spoken in Japanese, so if one isn't fluent, the song pretty much offers nothing. Also, some segments seem to drag, and while I appreciate the mood they try to set up with said segments, they often tend to bore.
Heaven in Her Arms are more than worth keeping an eye on. There is definite room for improvement, but "Paraselene" is very mucha step in the right direction. With a little more focus and maturation, the band could definitely be one of the genres heavy hitters.