Screamo is NOT dead.

While many here in the States believe that screamo died with Orchid, or Neil Perry, or whoever the screamo band of choice is– the truth is that screamo is in fact very much alive. One band doing their part to make sure the unfortunately-named genre doesn’t suffer any further bastardization at the hands of shitty scene kids with fucked haircuts is Japan’s Heaven in Her Arms. I’m going to assume they named their band after the Converge song from 2001’s Jane Doe, because that earns them 1,000 coolness points.

So any band whose moniker is lifted from one of the greatest contemporary hardcore bands has to be awesome, right? Well, in Heaven in Her Arms’ case, the answer is a shrill, blood-curdling “YES.” They recently dropped their debut full-length album Erosion of the Black Speckle, and it is a powerful reminder of just how great this mostly forgotten style of extreme music can be.

Erosion is a passionate expression of sadness and futility. This is epic, post-rock influenced screamo that’s as close to Saetia as it is to revered Japanese hardcore stalwarts, Envy. Erosion isn’t focused on the dynamics of building and collapsing within a sprawling song structure– no, Heaven in Her Arms is intent on making every moment as heart-wrenchingly cathartic as possible. Although they are certainly not scared of tenderness or serenity, Heaven in Her Arms rarely sacrifices intensity for atmospherics. Nothing is wasted. This band has much sharper teeth than the Japanese legends that influenced them.

Spoken word passages filter in and out over the mid-tempo ambiance like a lost transmission caught in the air for a split second, only to fade again just as quickly. Somewhere along the way, these indifferent manifestos turn into horrifying expulsions of dissent recalling the piercing vocals of such wonderful acts as Reversal of Man. Groundswells of iridescent guitars build around these emotions to form a protective wall that extends upwards into the infinite night sky. Pretty epic.

Heaven in Her Arms demonstrates their penchant for unflinching brutality on album standout, “Correlative Sign.” This track seesaws back and forth between somber, cleanly picked guitar passages and jackhammering grindcore-esque sprints before finally collapsing into one of the most floor-punchingly devastating breakdowns in years.

Heaven in Her Arms is not a revolutionary band. It’s quite obvious they wear their influences proudly, and that’s something I can respect. This is honest music that will reach out of your speakers just to bludgeon you with its raw emotion. Screamo ain’t dead yet, bitches.


~ by theoberlander on February 1, 2008.

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