Armsrace

Cross Your Fingers For The Next Ice Age EP

Written by: PP on 09/11/2007 04:08:49

While most of us agree that the last two or three Thrice records have been absolutely amazing in their own way, how many of us find ourselves pondering what the band could've been if they would've continued on the path of "Identity Crisis"? And how many of us find ourselves missing a band like the now defunct Give Up The Ghost / American Nightmare? What if you added some Enter Shikari into the mix? Excited yet? I know I am, and if you feel even remotely the same way, keep reading, and allow me to introduce you to a brand new New Jersey band Armsrace, whose debut EP "Cross Your Fingers For The Next Ice Age" mixes the best parts about both sounds together, while adding exciting and often unexpected twists to it.

"Tracers" opens the album with a killer punk bass/guitar combo that takes you straight back on the Thrice memory lane. Dustin Kensrue-style aggressive clean vocals are upheld until the first chorus, after which the other vocalist literally jumps in your face and screams / yells his lungs out while a complex guitar line backs him up ingeniously. And then, all of a sudden, the whole song pauses and ghastly synths create a foreshadowing atmosphere that can only be described as daunting. When the breakdown finally comes, the song has transitioned almost entirely into a modern hardcore song complete with repeated vocal lines and crunching guitars - need I say more? Keep in mind this was the first I ever heard by this band, and I was blown away in an instant.

Then bring in "Big Island Cowboy", a song which starts with gentle strumming and relaxed drumming, while the soundscape as a whole is surrounded by peculiar effect-laden synths. What a complete change from the first song, but yet it fits perfectly. The transition from the soothing atmosphere to a more rocky one is done smoothly, so when the crunching guitars finally come it feels like they have always been there. Two and a half minutes into the song and still left without any vocals, the listener is standing in awe-inspiration, wondering what the heck is coming next on the song, let alone the rest of the EP. As the song progresses, the instruments become louder, and paradoxically, more beautiful, and as some curious guitar experimentation closes the track, I realize that "wait a minute, there were no vocals on that track at all" but it doesn't matter - the track works.

As such, the track works as a near-perfect build up to the all-hell-is-lose hardcore punk of "Conversations Underground" that recalls the raw aggression of the oldest Thrice EP. Then you notice the Eurodance/techno styled synths on the background that directly reference Enter Shikari and bingo, a band that at this stage is still supposed to sound like their influences has their own impressive signature sound.

To complete the four track record's profound combination of different influences, "First 100 Years" starts with some brutal guitar oscillation akin to something you could hear on a Norma Jean record. The scratched clean singing suits the electrified atmosphere perfectly, and the band even pulls out something resembling a chorus in the song successfully.

At this point I'm left sitting here by my desk writing the conclusion to this review not exactly sure what to say. Thoughts like "Armsrace can't possibly be this good on their first release" go through my mind, as I stare emptily at our rating guideline. But really, there's no way around it. I've been blown away by a band that has taken something from three bands very dear to me, and made it their own. If there's only one more new band you're gonna check out before the year comes into close, make goddamn sure it's gonna be Armsrace.

8

Download: Tracers, Conversations Underground
For the fans of: Thrice, Enter Shikari, Give Up The Ghost, Thursday
Listen: Myspace

Release date 01.09.2007
Imperial Wax Records

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