REVIEW: THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES – TAIL SWALLOWER AND DOVE (2008)
Lead Beater, the eighth track on Tail Swallower and Dove (Suicide Squeeze Records, 2008) lands with such a foreboding bass it’s difficult to distinguish whether speakers are trembling because of the music, or the sheer calculated viciousness These Arms Are Snakes’ approach on their latest. Steve Snere has ever grown confident with vocals teetering between the voracious and the snide. Gone are the maundering traverses between atmospheric post-hardcore heaviness, replaced by the most straightforward, commanding declarations this Seattle outfit has made thus far.
Tail Swallower… begins with a quartet housing the ethereal evidence of recent tours with Pelican and Isis. The hooks are ratcheted, cleared of the greasy wavering that dominated and detracted Easter. These Volta-esque variations remain with a spaced guitar solo near the end of Woolen Heirs, but never are they allowed to pull the listener out of the leaden gravity of Chris Common’s drums or Brian Cook’s bass. Immediately after this galactic trip, Prince Squid tightens with drum rimmed rattles that keep Ryan Frederiksen from drifting into the psychedelia that dominates the Volta’s Omar Rodríguez-López.
What made These Arms Are Snakes intriguing is still evident. The danceability moments, as on Lucifer, hearken to Angela’s Secret with its KORG centricity, pushing closer towards Horse The Band‘s Nintendo inspiration than prior tracks. While the epic opus of Ethric Double takes the paced success of Drinking From The Necks of the Ones You Love, where Steve’s repetitious refrain is replaced by Brian and Ryan’s bass and guitar, it holds an unmatched precision. Earlier monuments (Drinking…, Gadget Arms) ultimately felt more unconscious, near-psychedelic, an element that has been contained and unleashed to the sheer benefit of Tail Swallower and Dove.
Cavity Carousel, an awkward cavort towards The Blood Brothers, rests as the most dynamic, yet damaged song. It’s cracked, seemingly unrefined, and detracts the attention. However, as with The Blood Brothers, time will tell if Cavity… is reinforced or collapses due to standing out. Regardless, Tail Swallower and Dove is the most confident, most forceful, and most direct release than any other from These Arms Are Snakes.