Arsonists Get All The Girls
01. Rise to Fall
02. Neck to Contrast
04. It Was A Mamoir
05. Dr. Teeth
07. Waiting For The War To Die
08. West Cliffs
09. Hemlock Like This
11. Our Super Symmetry
12. Will Someone Please Turn Down The Ocean?
There’s still a reason to get excited about deathcore! This Californian band of progressive goofballs have made an evolution over the years from a jokester mentality and chaotic songwriting (an iwrestledabearonce before its time, as it were) to a more serious project with coherent songs with a sense of direction. After a would-be crippling lineup overhaul, AGATG released their third album Portals in 2009, becoming one of my favorite albums of the year. It would have taken home the gold too, had it not been for that pesky Between the Buried and Me, one of AGATG’s admitted influences. Do not discard this band simply because they have a silly name; they’re the highlight of an entire genre.
Motherland seems to pick up where Portals left off, stylistically. You’ve got your dance-worthy drum beats and zany space synths juxtaposed against aggressive snarling barks of and technical riffs packaged into a tastefully experimental forty minute package. There is little deviation from the sound that the band has established since this current lineup has been established, but there is something noticeably different about Motherland. In general, the songs seem more concise, with only the closing track “Tempest” breaking the five minute mark. Everything seems more focused and fine-tuned, and that’s an improvement on some of the hairpin turns that Portals took. Arsonists could always fit a ton of different ideas onto a three minute song though, and with the flow of this record, there’s no need for a 7-plus minute detour.
Melody seems more important than ever on Motherland. Portals touched on lengthy sections where the focus was on creating a beautiful atmosphere instead of how many cool sounding time signatures they could go through, but they take it a step further. While vocalist Jared Monette hasn’t taken up clean singing, they seem to pack in more bouts of polish between the abrasive core aesthetics. “Dr. Teeth” is a prime example of how catchy Arsonists can be when they really want to. That being said, there are still plenty of riffs to go around, and very few songs incorporate the dreaded breakdown crutch.
The experimental moments haven’t gone anywhere either. The playful keyboards always do their part to spice things up, but it doesn’t end there. There are a couple of instrumental tracks scattered throughout Motherland to offer up a sense of dynamic. “It Was A Memoir” is an ominous sort of melodic track, if Between The Buried And Me’s climactic moments on their older material were a bit darker. “West Cliffs” is a full-on showcase of keyboard player Sean Richmond skills as a writer and a player, taking the spotlight for the entire song. How many deathcore bands throw a piano suite in the middle of their albums? No one else? That’s what I thought.
“Hemlock Like This” sports an almost psychedelic jazz break that makes up for the ‘so off-kilter it’s awkward’ breakdown at the end and “Neck To Contrast” takes a bit of a funk-tinged detour. Unfortunately, the genre fluctuations and experimentations aren’t as wild as they used to be (sorry, no silly southern rock bar-room moments to be seen), but the distractions aren’t completely gone yet!
Arsonists Get All The Girls are not your typical core band, and Motherland isn’t your typical core album. One of the most unique bands in the genre may have just stumbled onto what could be their greatest work to date. For some reason, I didn’t expect the band to be able to top Portals, but Motherland goes for the throat and delivers a top notch album that might just become one of the best that this year has to offer.
Arsonists Get All The Girls – Motherland gets…