These son-of-a-guns pack quite a wallop and manage to unite the seemingly opposite punk and prog-rock genres. Let’s cut straight to the point: the dudes in Arms Exploding sound better and rock harder than anyone has since At the Drive-In tragically splintered in 2001, the results of which left rock music in a sad and sorry state. Until now. On Ruminari, the bands debut album, this Midwestern five-piece eschew any sense of traditional song structure and instead move from riff to pummeling riff with all the trademark impatience and abandon of the punk leaders of old.
The most interesting thing about Ruminari is how the band takes all the hallmarks of punk music (buzzsaw guitars, urgent vocals, propulsive drumming) and situates them into the seemingly opposite prog-rock genre. Here is a punk band unafraid of 6 minute running times and passages which focus on prowess just as much as raw emotion. Opener Dancing Lepers demonstrates the genius of the formula: the track sounds like a collection of 2 minute punk songs proper, piled one on top of the other, so that the song takes on all the unpredictability and recklessness of a progressive piece. As an added bonus, it all kicks an incredible amount of ass.
A chief concern with a band of this kind is whether or not they can sustain a full-blown assault for the breadth of an LP; Arms Exploding is that rare caliber of band that can. Cross-Border Tunnels has all the trappings of a hit single; the ratio of clean to screaming vocals tips precariously closer, and still the band never allows the song, or its music, to become watered down or boring. Even the closest thing to a ballad here, the 6 minute opus Cupertino, only spends about two minutes languishing in the down-tempo doldrums before it builds into an explosion of cascading drums, guitar blasts, steady bass and vocal histrionics. Its damn powerful stuff from a damn powerful band. Recommended. File Under: emo for the right reasons, ATDI, prog-rock, punk
DELUSIONS OF ADEQUACY
...excellent progressive post-hardcore going on that is hard to ignore. While many of these songs extend past the four and five minute mark things manage to remain interesting. They are progressive in terms of the talented playing and unique arrangements in which their songs are created yet no worries about a Dream Theater-style rock opera emerging here. And though there is a strong post-hardcore lean to their sound Id say this group takes things to the next level past where NYHC originators founded it. Think perhaps more along the lines of where Burning Airlines was sitting prettyboth rhythmic and heavy, as well as exceptionally talented musicians creating driving and complex music. Arms Exploding certainly does a good job of rocking ass and throwing in lots of curveballs at the same time. Well done I say. I like a plenty.
HANG LIKE A HEX
...a bi-polar attempt at hardcore or maybe its metal or maybe its pop-punk or maybe its thrash…Ruminari opens with the absolute rocking riffs of Dancing Lepers. I know nothing is more lame then describing a riff as rocking, but I am a firm believer that when all a riff does is rock, that rocking is the sole description needed. A minute of build up leads into a frenzied dose of spastic hardcore tinged by the might of thrash metal. Vocalist Nick Thompson carries the intensity with a vengeance, screeching, Burn it down, while the riffs do that to the speakers…the savage off-kilterness [is what] makes Arms Exploding such a pleasant explosion of randomness and senseless technical prowess….Arms Exploding throw so much rock into the album it almost has too much for its own good… if there was such a thing as too much rock…
The five members of Arms Exploding are very serious about making music, and it shows. The sounds emanating from Ruminari, the bands debut album for the local Phratry label, are intense and harrowing, a melodic Post Punk/Prog cacophony of double clutch drumming, heart attack bass, delicately thrashing guitars and unhinged vocals. And their songs are inspired by the shallow conceits of the cosmetics industry (Dancing Lepers), compulsion (Cross-Border Tunnels), father issues (Measure of a Man) and morality struggles (Cupertino), among other sobering topics. One of the bands greatest assets is its dynamic range, bridging the gap between relative whisper and spine-shattering scream. The attention to detail paid off on Ruminari the Latin root for the word ruminate, which means to go over repeatedly
...The music isnt all trashy, three-chord mud, but peppered with articulate guitar work, vocals that simmer down and take it easy… what sets Arms Exploding apart is their wild time changes, the Tool-like bass lines and screamo vocals that actually take time out to settle down a bit. But when all is said and done Ruminari is still a metal disc and that is the audience that theyre going to impress the most. Also worth mentioning are their clever lyrics. After a couple more efforts and experience, Arms Exploding have the potential to crack the music world and evolve into something super-cool. Stay tuned
..the thrashing punk of Of Luxury & Branding features cymbal-heavy drum work, shrieking guitars, wild yelling, full-out screaming, slashing rhythms, and lots of distortion…wild, frenetic and barely controlled. Arms Exploding seems the type of band that would end their sets with blood on the floor and equipment broken. There is some restraint leveled in Of Luxury & Branding, as a stripped-back groove section gives a momentary respite from chaos. The song also ends on a loop of a off-kilter piano line, which was an unexpected move from such a wild and frantic piece. But the majority of this track is old-school punk rock: abrasive, unusual, unexpected, and challenging to the status quo.
The A side is Caterpillar Tracks offering up a driving piece of post HC rock with elements of noise slightly woven in. Short and sweet, the track calls to mind the more experimental turn some HC bands took in the very early 90s. The flip side is the track by Arms Exploding, which is a more straight-ahead punk cum art rock song with some tasty hooks and a straight for the throat feel. Both songs merge elements that seem slightly off kilter and make it work within the songs as if it were perfectly normal. The results are catchy as hell songs that come from a familiar place but have something bubbling underneath the surface. Im kicking myself for not getting to this seven inch (on red vinyl) sooner.
THE TROUBLE WITH NORMAL
Good stuff to blast at the beach or at a liquor-fueled party with a lot of sweaty college kids. Great beat, fast pace rock and roll…The songs that stand out and have the most potential are Cross-Border Tunnels, with its catchy riffs and clever lyrics as well as Cupertino, a slowed down cut that is not a ballad or any such claptrap but more of a slow, brooding killer of a tune, with the plaintive vocals and the slow but thunderous rhythms and even the screaming guitar that kicks in about half way into the song. Toward the end the anger perks up a bitlike someone who had been holding in his anger/agitation, etc and finally had to blow off some cathartic steam… what sets Arms Exploding apart is their wild time changes, the Tool-like bass lines and scream-o vocals that actually take time out to settle down a bit.
...fast, excitable and edgy pop-punk with a driving bass line and infectious guitars. The vocals seem better suited to a metal band, but get the job done nevertheless.