September 28, 2003

These Arms Are Snakes "This Is Meant to Hurt You"

What on earth is this? These Arms Are Snakes' debut mini-album, This Is Meant To Hurt You, is one impressive debut record. Of course, these guys have been around for years, in bands such as Botch and Kill Sadie, but let's not look at the past. We've got a future to talk about, and the present evidence of their future is clear. These Arms Are Snakes are going to make some really damn good records--I can feel it. After about one minute, you'll feel it, too. Maybe you won't run from fear, but I bet you will, because This Is Meant To Hurt You is a haunting, disturbing record that doesn't really like you.

How do we know? Well, let's look at this record. Apparently, somewhere along the way, these guys learned a valuable lesson: you can be more intimidating when you don't say anything, and you don't have to yell to get your point across. Sure, they do get a bit emotional (I believe the word here is 'passionate') about things here and there, but they never get...well, you know...they never get all At The Drive-In about things. Yeah, I can see that band being mentioned in reviews of this record...but that's just wrong. These guys are too good for comparisons to them. Not that ATDI were bad, mind's just that ATDI were one band and These Arms Are Snakes is another band and they've got their own sound and if you think they sound like the Drive-In then you're just lazy, or you've never actually heard much music. Which is it, slappy?

And what a sound it is! It's never gonna be easily pigeonholed, so let's just discuss what we can discern, and we'll allow you to make up your mind about what it sounds like after you go out and buy it, okay? This Is Meant To Hurt You has some pretty harsh whelping but it's not about how fast they can sing, or how much they can jam into one song. In fact, they spend more time on the actual music--this weird, tripped-out experimental meets metal meets hardcore meets whatever it is they want to call it because nobody sounds like this, really messed up yet somehow soothing MUSIC--than they do on the words. It's a big package packed in a little parcel, this record. Throw in some really messed up synth lines on "The Blue Rose" and "Drinking From the Necks Of the Ones You Love" and you HAVE WON ME OVER.

There's no good word, no journalistic pigeonhole for These Arms Are Snakes. They've got the capacity to shatter your illusions and to hammer home the point that WE ARE NOT LIKE THE OTHER CRAP IN YOUR RECORD COLLECTION. Like a snake, These Arms Are Snakes will bite you in the ass with zero apologies, and it will leave you in a poisioned daze, waiting and wondering how and when their next strike of noisy venom will enter your bloodstream--and you can't/won't/don't complain, because, well, you want it. If you're lucky, it won't kill you. Much.

And when it strikes you in the heart, you cannot complain.

After all, you knew it was a snake when you took it home.

What did you expect? Love?

--Joseph Kyle

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