Album Review: Arctic Death – Arctic Death

I can’t believe I forgot to write about Arctic Death. The East Aurora band’s self-titled record came out last July and I immediately fell in love with it. When you only have three instruments in a band, it can be a bit difficult to sound completely original.  This is especially true when the instruments are bass, guitar, and drums (aka ‘the basics’).  For Arctic Death, they solved the problem with inventive song structures, enough hooks to kill a whale, and an incredibly unique lead singer.  Their music can be placed under a general indie rock banner, but I honestly haven’t heard a band that sounds anything like them. Ever.

“Bathe My Heart” is the perfect album opener, slowly growing more anthemic as it goes on and turning into a full on sing along by the end. “Sisters” is another standout, having quite a few different sections to it, all of which are memorable (like this sentence). The song is a pretty much the album in a nutshell, so it’s definitely recommended.

“Basement Stars slows things down, but quickly turnes into a bouncing stomper, wile “Over” is the closest the band gets to straight up garage rock. “Trivial Honesty,” on the other hand, is full of angular guitars and might be a tad jarring at first.  In fact, the whole album might be jarring at first, particularly if one is not well versed in the scene it comes from. Bands like the Thermals and the Hold Steady might be prerequisite listenings, though I’m not sure how much the band is influenced by either.

The only negative thing I could find to say about Arctic Death is that it tends to blend together if you aren’t paying attention. This isn’t the fault of poor songwriting, but comes down to the tonal quality of the record. Only having three instruments that sound and are mixed exactly the same on almost every song can lead to this effect, no matter how individual the sound is itself. Hysterically, the one song that sounds sonically different is “One Throat to Choke,” and it’s last. Overall, this really is a great record when it comes right down to it, and you would be a fool to disregard it.

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