01. Act I: Evince
02. Act I: Ascend
II: Esoteric Allusions
03. Act II: Creationed
04. Act II: Recreationed
III: Implementing Geomancy
05. Act III: Crown Chakra
06. Act III: Astral Body
07. Act III: In The Encephalon
08. Act III: Superhuman
IV: Blueprints for a Time Machine
09. Act IV: Astrodrama
10. Act IV: From Now On
Talk about this year’s curve ball. Coming from ‘out of’ left field, batting a thousand, rising above the bush leagues, and other baseballing idioms, Texan quintet White Arms of Athena have almost literally jumped out at me from nowhere wearing a Scream mask and shouting “boo!” like it was ‘all one big fucking joke’.
My soiled-laundry bill aside, I like it when this happens. It’s satisfying to know that there are still hardworking, talented and commited bands out there, working toward their dream, especially as we sit and wade our way through the Bog of Eternal Stench that is the music industry, sniffing each fetid miasma with increasing levels of disgust. White Arms are the proverbial rose amongst those smelly, smelly thorns.
Considering their choice of producer, it should be no surprise that they channel some serious Between the Buried and Me-esque traits. Jamie King is responsible for most of BTBAM’s back catalogue, and handled recording duties for their Astrodrama album as well. Mirrored are the complex song structures (all beautifully written), changes in time signature that are both sexy and skillfully handled, and the stark contrast between clean and heavy vocals.
There is certainly something to be said for vocalist Joshua Everett, who has great range, and is of a rare breed of intelligible growlers. By that I don’t mean that he’s a talking vagina, but that even in his more ‘brutal’ moments, you barely need to glance at the lyrics sheet, which is excellent, because said lyrics are sweet — carrying themes of altruistic encouragement, the nature of life and motherfucking time travel. Got my attention for sure. I think it’s worth mentioning the tone of the album too — I get a strong feeling of positivity and hope from Astrodrama that invigorates without preaching from a soapbox.
Speaking of brutality, whilst the heavy sections are excellent, everything feels organic rather than simply bouts of pure caustic ferocity, and I think that’s partly down to the beautiful guitar tones. It’s this kind of attention to detail that should be lauded, especially from such a small band. The mix also sits so elegantly that you hear every crisp note, which allows such elements as Thomas Sifuentes’s fantastic bass-line to be heard crystalline clear.
Astrodrama is a majestic piece of work that flows so exquisitely through its four acts that I can’t god-damn recommend this album enough, short of beating you in the face with it and suffering the consequences of the inevitable lawsuits. I see great things happening for White Arms this year, so get involved while you can still say you liked them before they were big…
White Arms of Athena’s Astrodrama gets: