Review Summary: When the lions were restless
These Arms Are Snakes (TAAS) were the result of members from Botch and Kill Sadie after both bands disbanded. The band managed to keep the hard edge from botch and the spastic sounds of Kill Sadie, but adopting haunting sounds as well, resulting in an album that manages to evoke a sense of maniacal dread behind screamed vocals and swaying punk guitar riffs.
Oxeneers’ pull won’t be felt immediately, as it isn’t until the album highlight, Your Pearly Whites, which TAAS come into their own brand of rhythmic post hardcore sounds tinged with synth interlaced between the shouted vocals and the wall of sound. For the first few tracks we have some focused songs that rely on straight forward groovy riffs and a traditional sound not uncommon in the early 2000’s post hardcore scene. What really pushes these songs above and beyond though is just how crisp they sound. In fact, regarding the entire album, you can hear how great the production value for Oxeneers’ really is. Every lick from the strings on the guitar rings loud and true helping give the album that much more power.
By the time you get around to the first interlude, Tracing, it feels off-kilter, effectively doing a one-eighty set by previous songs. This somber tune stops the momentum to wallow in what will be a sizeable part of the rest of the album. Maybe not implemented as well as it could be, but a welcome intro to the demented turn TAAS achieves. It is here, where TAAS play around with some of the more conventional sounds in the genre to make something their own. If the beginning of Oxeneers’ is TAAS playing it straight, then the rest of it is them losing their mind. The synth is played up more to create morbid sounds to go along with riffs that sway back and forth like every moment is a crescendo. The vocals changing up into deranged shrieks as they wail against drum beats that pin you down with their ferocity. The lyrics as wild as the music gets, teetering back and forth between playful and downright insane. Every second of Oxeneers’ music is well placed and meaningful. The way the music is arranged is so every instrument flows well with each other. Nothing is overused or jarring.
What we have, with Oxeneers’, is an album that is interesting as it is enjoyable. TAAS played a more straight sound on their second LP, Easter, before experimenting even more with their sound on Tail Swallower & Dove. Nevertheless TAAS always stood out to me as an exceptional band with a style they could call their own. I can’t claim to know their sound would’ve progressed even more as TAAS went on, as the band members have since ventured on to different bands. For what we have though, is a delight and music that is an absolute must to listen to.