ANXIOUS ARMS- ‘Crimes of Despair’
In another universe Anxious Arms are a straight-up punk band. The Californian outfit are adept at barrelling riffs, skating rhythms, and hard-edged melodies. In the here and now though, they are weighed down by the state of… well, everything. You can hear that in their lyrics, in lines like “A future with no hope, I’ve seen it all and I’m letting go”, but also in their music. While they have added increasing amounts of distortion to their sound since their inception, here everything is absolutely smothered in feedback, grit, and rage. And, for the most part, it’s the right call- the molasses-thick sound transforms the title track from rote emo into something dark and hypnotic and immersive, ‘Catastrophes’ is a heady mix of post-hardcore and satisfying ‘Load’-era Metallica chug, while ‘Nailed to the Wheel’ is almost doom metal. Not every decision is dead-on- while Kyle Bolla’s raspy urgent vocals are great, his metal growls are less effective, and sound cut-and-pasted in from another project, and a couple of songs sound far too similar to stick out- but there’s something special in this dark, sludgy mix.