It’s been over six years since ArmsBendBack last played together on The Waiting Room. That’s a fact. What’s up for debate is how much time, if any, passed before people stopped holding their breath for a tearful reunion and triumphant new album. To be blunt, ArmsBendBack are far from cutting edge, playing a kind of by-the-numbers screamo in the vein of Thrice or fellow Trustkillians Open Hand, except those bands do it better for whatever reason. ArmsBendBack seem like they’re way too strained, struggling to burst out of their artistic cocoon into some much more colorful and poignant incarnation.
Producer and singer Carson Slovak certainly doesn’t help relieve this impression, as his congested warble lends a lackadaisical air to music. There are some thankfully brief harsh screams—this is screamo, after all—thrown into some of the songs, like “The Queen Is Dead” or “Future Whores of America” (which also has record’s most infectious and creative riff), but by and large the singing is clean. Brace yourself for strummed ballads, though, such as “Megan Fox”, which somehow manages to be more one-dimensional than its namesake, and the trudging “Solaris”, a titular affront to both Stanislaw Lem and George Clooney. The rest of the album is basic and predictable, walking unwaveringly down the line of average. So, if for some reason you’re turning blue with anticipation for this new ArmsBendBack release, it’s time to exhale like Whitney Houston and move on. I hate to be this scathing, but when each song sounds like a variation on three chords with a wah-wah solo tacked on for good measure, your time is better spent elsewhere.