Review: In Arcadia “If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It” CD

(Don't stop reading, but I have to start this one out with a bad attitude.) Dear In Arcadia and Handstand Records: I sincerely hope that this record doesn't flop, I truly mean that. But if it does, I would have an incredibly hard time not placing a fairly significant amount of blame on the fact that this CD bears what is undoubtedly one of the most hideous layouts I've laid eyes on all year. The cover art is inexcusably horrid and the fact that the text is at least crisp and legible elsewhere is only a minor improvement over the fact that the outer packaging is so unattractive and sub-par compared to the music. People do not like to buy ugly records, and were I to see this band live and enjoy their set, if this is what I saw on the merch table when I walked to the back, I would abandon my plans to purchase the album right there on the spot. Sorry. It's a fact. Alright, that being said, I went ahead and gave this CD a fair shot because I love cheesy action movies, and I figured that any band who names their CD after a line from "Predator" is okay in my book on at least some level. Thankfully this disc is actually pretty god damn good, despite what the cover art would suggest - and features former members of Madison and Carlisle (and therefore As Friends Rust and Reversal of Man as well) no less. Be not misled by the ultra dissonant rhythmic metalcore surges and layered screams/shouts that open the first track, as things quickly shift into the lightly raw singing vocals and heavy yet melodic emo styled chord progressions that are much more indicative of the mid- to late-90's sounding emo that these guys drop throughout this record. So much so that the label compares them to Anasarca, Falling Forward, Piebald, and Sunny Day Real Estate. Don't take any of those comparisons very specifically at all, but if you threw all of those bands into a blender the result would indeed probably be fairly close to In Arcadia: Lots of singing and vocal harmonies over openly melodic chord progressions, lush clean breaks and chilled out passages, as well as caustic picking patterns and chugging aggression with loads of screaming and yelling, etc. Despite minor hitches the songwriting's usually really fucking good, too. "Super Teeth" is the first track that's a little more streamlined and melodic from start to finish, despite some jarring guitar work on occasion, but it's with the powerful opening of "Megadeth Fiero" that things really start to impress. The blend of clean and distorted guitars is among the more diverse attacks in this track, with lots of tempo changes and vocal interplay - especially towards the end. Much of that balance continues in the slightly more aggressive leaning "There's No Crying in Baseball", which boasts some of the finest vocal harmonies herein. "Domino, Motherfucker" opens with a lengthy instrumental build that gradually surges from a sparse clean run to dense layers of melodic distorted notes and wide open power chords with some chunky picking patterns to break things up a little. They end up losing that power once things kind of bounce around between stripped down acoustic guitars and whatnot as the focus is lost and the track becomes far less interesting/intense, but thankfully that disjointed issue isn't a common one here. Even the recording kind of has a dated sound to it that's more akin to the aforementioned 90's brand of heavy emo that I miss so much these days. It's thick without actually becoming muddy, and there's a little bit of a sheen to the guitars that keeps things sounding kind of raw, but it all works out just fine. You can hear the bass, the vocals don't overpower the music, and - like the slightly strained singing - the rough side to the recording is more of an endearing quality than any sort of setback. If everything they were to release sounded like this I'd be fine with it. Despite what I would call very overly sarcastic song titles, the lyrics are in more of the dramatic personal vein that still doesn't really do much for me, but... they get the job done, so I'm alright with that. "Hate changes what you mean to me. That's not how it's supposed to be. Take something that was never yours, for fake recognition of your name. It's easier to steal than to create..." Sorry for my assholic rant about the layout, but seriously, I'm a pretty big fan of this CD and everything I stated regarding that case is entirely true. But I wish this band the best and honestly want to hear more from 'em. Anyone that was into this general niche of emo eight to 10+ years ago should really look into this - it's only $8 brand spankin' new from the label. Very nicely done, I mean that. I hope to be totally floored by these guys the next time around

Running time - 32:35, Tracks: 9
[Notable tracks: Super Teeth, Megadeth Fiero, There's No Crying in Baseball, Fathom the Brig'uns]
Handstand Records -