These Arms Are Snakes
Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home Jade Tree http://www.tinymixtapes.comsites/default/files/arton760_1.jpg

[Jade Tree; 2004]

Rating: 5/5 5 / 5 (0)

Styles: screamo, post-hardcore, prog rock
Others: the Blood Brothers, the Mars Volta, Botch, Kill Sadie


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The terms "Seattle" and "grunge" are still inexorably linked in many peoples' minds, and it's a link which is massively unfortunate. Seattle rock-beast These Arms Are Snakes, along with their cohorts in bands like the effervescent Minus the Bear and Pretty Girls Make Graves, are pioneering new musical worlds in bass-heavy Ninas and guitar-shredding Santa Marias. These Arms Are Snakes' follow-up to their impressive debut EP, This is Meant to Hurt You, has both raised the bar for their Emerald City contemporaries and made a peacock-like display of the band's maturity.

Unlike a lot of heavier bands who try to branch out in their sound, there is absolutely no dead weight on their new genre-bending LP, Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelopes Go Home. They venture from power ballad and Blood Brothers-style hardcore to drunken circus shanty (What? Yeah, I know...) over the course of just 45 minutes, and do so with aplomb not usually native to a band so early in its development. The epic, post-rockish and largely instrumental "Gadget Arms" is startling in both its hypnotic power and its simplicity, the shimmering guitar at the start of the track a haunting portent of what's to come. Oxeneers is drenched in sound throughout, as multiple instruments and heavy tracking result in immensely thick and rewarding sonic jungles.

The players are all seemingly near the top of their games here, but of particular note is the rhythm section of Erin Tate on drums and Brian Cook on bass. While Ryan Fredriksen's guitar has a tendency to occasionally get a little too flighty, the hammering bass and ever-varied drums carry the songs that could otherwise be annoyingly spacey. Producer/engineer/etc. Matt Bayles, who has previously worked with bands as varied as Botch, Pearl Jam, and Isis has seemingly crafted his masterwork here, as all elements are perfectly in place and sound exactly how they should sound.

To top it all off, the visual presentation of the album is spot-on. Simple color portraits and large blocks of color mixed with a distinct, clean font result in a stark and affecting masterwork.

Here's hoping that the rest of the new school Seattle crew can keep up with the standard set by these dudes. If so, the city may have a new musical revolution on its hands. If not, at least we'll have this gleaming, polished gem to adorn our 2004 top ten lists.

1 The Shit Sisters
2. Angela's Secret
3. Big News
4. Tracing
5. Your Pearly Whites
6. Gadget Arms
7. Greetings From the Great North Woods
8. La Stanza Bianca
9. Darlings of the New Midnight
10. Oxeneer
1 1 The Shit Sisters
2. Angela's Secret
3. Big News
4. Tracing
5. Your Pearly Whites
6. Gadget Arms
7. Greetings From the Great North Woods
8. La Stanza Bianca
9. Darlings of the New Midnight
10. Oxeneer
11. Idaho