One of the most ferocious bands to have emerged from the post-hardcore landscape, Seattle quartet These Arms are Snakes have, since their inception, polarized audiences with their unabashedly classic rock-leaning take on the genre; forging a sound that, while seemingly at odds with their heritage (members have done time in Botch and Kill Sadie), is, in truth, a natural step forward from it. They're an inscrutable and chaotic shaman in a sea of breakdown-heavy roughnecks, and on this, their third full-length, they've transformed themselves into the finely tuned rock n' roll killing machine they've always hinted they could become.
Throughout Tail Swallower & Dove, there's less of an emphasis on the almighty riff -- the band finding new ways to eviscerate via slash-n-burn electronic blurts, swirling, mantra-like guitars and serpentine drum patterns courtesy of rhythm destroyer Chris Common. Opener "Woolen Heirs" instantly puts their new ethos to work, with a demonically grooving, megaton rhythm underpinning Steve Snere's feral Robert Plant-ish vocals, with howling guitars exploding overhead covering the whole thing in a hail of shrapnel. Elsewhere, "Lucifer" sounds like a gaggle of pinball machines attempting to play hardcore, with gurgling blips and over-modulated synth lines incinerating their interiors as they scream bloody murder, while the following "Ethric Double" finds them exploring the inner recess of prog, locking into a circular space-rock groove that's far less bloated than your typical Hawkwind-y progenitors. Better still is "Long and Lonely Step", a song which bridges the gap between their earlier work and the present day, riding a titanic riff and galloping drums towards an utterly bombastic coda that even occasionally recalls the halcyon days of Botch.
With many bands of TAAS' ilk, by the time they reach the third album (if they ever do), they're either out of ideas or venom, and yet Tail Swallower & Dove is an embarrassment of riches on both accounts, not merely finding the band shedding their hardcore skin (possibly for good), but forging ahead into a gloriously barren netherworld of endless possibilities.