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Duct Tape & Shivering Crows


Artist: These Arms Are Snakes
Label: Suicide Squeeze
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 15 April 2022

Suicide Squeeze releases the rarities collection Duct Tape & Shivering Crows, by genre-straddling rock band These Arms Are Snakes. During the 2000s they were active for seven years, during which time they were described as Screamo or ‘animal’ Indie, although the sound incorporated Synth-infused Noise Rock, Psychedelia, Proto-Metal Boogie, Hardcore and even Prog/Post-Punk. During this time a number of B-sides, collaborations, one-offs and other curios have largely gone unnoticed. This has now been rectified with a lifespan compilation. It runs in reverse chronological order, beginning with the latest recordings and ending with the more raucous adrenaline-infused early work. The release is available on CD, Cassette, digital formats and on vinyl as a Double LP...

Side A begins with one of their final recordings, along with the band’s songs from their split EP with Russian Circles. Side B contains two covers and two B-sides.

Side C consists of their songs from the collaborative EP with Harkonen (released on Hydra Head Records in 2004). Side D takes us back to the band’s first demo; four tracks which were later polished for their first EP.

'Meet Your Mayor' blasts in with no introductions. The shouted vocals and riff are pretty much constant. Nice main instrumental riff, but the rest is non-descript to my reckoning. I think it’s because the structure seems to be flat and monotone. 'Camera Shy' has a bass and mechanical-like rhythm. It’s a better offering, and would certainly be improved if the vocals were a little more varied in consistency. The grunge aspect is nice. 'Trix' is quite different, offering some welcome variety into the stop/start riffing. 'Energy Drink and the Long Walk Home' is far and away the best track of the bunch, bridging the genres of Post-Punk, SKA, and Fastball-like Pop-Rock. 'Heart Shaped Box' is a return to Grunge/Sleaze, with a moderate and bass-heavy sound. 'Washburn' has all the hallmarks of a Trash genre, but is rather flat and samey. 'Old Paradise' incorporates elements of Prog Rock in its rhythm section, but again is rather flat in the overall sound.

'Payday Loans' is less than two minutes in duration and accordingly doesn’t get the chance to become monotonous. There is plenty of energy and melody (key components I look for). The key ingredient of 'Hook on This' seems to be discordance, although there is a nice little guitar melody. 'Riding the Grape Dragon' is the first of four original demos to close this collection. It has some nice guitar, and the structure is somewhat different. It sounds significantly better in the instrumental section when the singer is shouting nondescript monotones over the top. 'Run it Through the Dog' is a case-in-point of this. The band is quite obviously going for raw and raucous, with the edges of psychedelia, but I’m not sure that it succeeds. 'Diggers of Ditches Everywhere' is more dreamy, at least at first. The effect is soon ruined. We end with 'Blue Rose', which has some nice guitar riffing, and the vocals are set back a little more in the mix which works well.

For fans of the band this will come as a welcome collection. The musicianship is fine, although I’m certain a more tuneful and varied vocal style would improve the overall sound. However, this is not for me, I’m afraid. It’s not the more frantic elements, as I’m a big enthusiast of the recent releases from Blood Command, who mix things up and make every song ‘driving’.


Ty Power

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