After a lot of promise and discussion, local trio Secret Arms has finally delivered on their intended fanfare with New Colonies, a fully realized ten track album that can now be yours for, well, whatever price you deem it worth.
Of course, the whole point of a cute flea market ploy of this nature is to mitigate you into truly evaluating the work. We recommend the following rule of thumb: a) amount of tracks, b) length of tracks, and finally c) what percentage of the tracks got you bopping along?
That aside, the album is a fine example of taking one's time and composing interesting arrangements that bear the trademark sound they try to achieve, which would be under the whole post-punk/screamo banner, but such a way of reading into this is fallacious as there are far more desirable genres blended into the mix. For example, towards the back nine of "Damaged Goods" the band gets downright operatic during a nice build-up that is refreshing and intelligent.
With the average song mark at slightly above the four minute mark, Secret Arms has plenty of room to explore their sound and are successful by not ever falling within the boring traps that may occur when bands try to overachieve. "Sink and Strangle" opens the album up firmly displaying the aforementioned screamo/post-punk stuff but once it opens into the first third, that tag does indeed take a backseat.
Let's look at the middle song, "World in Wireframe." While it should offer a brief respite before closing strong, the song runs through the motions of the front and back of the album in true catalyst form. The guitars of Louis Salgar are reminiscent of the Promise Ring if the Promise Ring did massive amounts of cocaine and writhed naked on a mattress of broken glass and nails. There are instances of straight up power violence blast beats and quiet moments of pure rhythm in which bassist Tyler Bronis (formerly of Run Like Hell) and drummer Mike Rodriguez are seemingly caught in a K-hole of alternative rock and roll. There's even lyrical content that has mimicked my life: "Freedoms forged and occupied with whores..."
"Holy War" reminded me of Jihad live and that era in the late '90s when this kind of music was forging its identity out of the morass of hardcore, punk, emo, crossover and power violence. Call it screamo or post-whatever, it rocks, and knows it holds power; so when the band offers it to you at your discretion, do not be a freaking dick about it and cough up some bucks. This album was recorded by Ryan Haft and engineered by Jonathan Nuñez so keep that in mind when you work the aforementioned formula out.
But here's the real kicker, after all is said and done, the true story behind this album is best summed up by Bronis: "We started recording this in June of 2011, got through almost the entire record by September, which was originally nine songs, and all we had left to do was vocals. So Ryan Haft and I were out one night for the opening of Mamushkas and he'd taken the hard drive to his other studio to grab some files and had left it in the car while we were inside. At about five a.m. when the night was done, we walk back to the car to find it broken into and the only thing missing is the hard drive!"
We bring this up, because sometimes we as consumers think we're getting the better deal in situations like this, when bands put their music up digitally for a donation. The lesson here is, don't be a dick, and pay somewhere around what you'd pay for a similar length album. Undeterred by the setback of having to basically rerecord the album, Secret Arms looks forward to a productive 2013 with your help.
"I (Bronis) just moved to San Francisco and the other dudes are still in South Florida, so we're trying to relay ideas back and forth via the internet. We have a handful of new songs as well, so we're planning on throwing those onto a few splits or an EP. We're also trying to plan a tour this summer when we hopefully get New Colonies pressed on vinyl."
Get some good karmic points and help these local cats out by clicking below and be righteous with your self-pricing!
Purchase the album here.