Arsonists Get All The Girls - "The Game Of Life" (CD)
"The Game Of Life" track listing:
1. Business In The Front
2. Save The Castle Screw The Princess
4. Cuffed To Your Ankles
5. Shoeshine For Neptune
6. To Get Eaten By The Rats
8. Claiming Middle Age A Decade Early
9. Taiwanese Troft Trouble
10. 13 Year Old Ruby
11. Robondo De Los Muertos
12. So You Think You Know About The Game Of Life (Party In The Rear)
Reviewed by psythe on April 29, 2008
Like most people, when I first heard this bands’ name, I decided they must be some sort of scene-following faux-rock band like Panic! At The Disco or Bullet For My Valentine. The truth, thank the almighty, is completely otherwise. This six-piece from Santa Cruz combine elements of death metal, hardcore and metalcore with a musical preference for the technical and an offhanded humour that is at once disconcerting and nonchalant.
For the most part, the song structures are complex and this adds immeasurably to the band's integrity. With so many mediocre talents filling the metalcore and deathcore world, a band must mix in something unique to retain its higher standing in the eyes of metalheads. It is difficult, however, to be different without compromising the whole point of being that particular style. You could add, for example, tons of melodious numbers, but these are not genres noted for their melodies. Most just go for the same old identified, tried and tested sound. This is where Arsonists Get All The Girls really stands out from the zombified crowd: they manage to pull off differentiating themselves without contradicting their foundation sound. They do this in a number of ways, through the complexity of their song structures, their lyrics which don’t keep with the usual ramblings of the genre, their technical approach to playing, their sense of comedic self-relief, and by having two vocalists who also play keyboards.
"Business In The Front" is a cruising but suspenseful melody that, as an intro, serves to hint at something big coming. We see this in the next track, which careens out of control for just over five minutes, making it the longest song on the album. "Save The Castle Screw The Princess" is a song which comprises all the best parts of the bands’ style, complex, technical, and certifiable, it also gives us a prime example in its title of the wacky humour of the group. "Mantipede" follows, giving us the album's first dipping of keyboard effects, which are highly notable, because the keyboards aren’t used by Arsonists to add a melodic, ambient or atmospheric layer to their music. Instead, in a twist as surprising as crocodiles in your closet, it sounds like they’ve dubbed on 8-bit soundbites from arcade video games like Mario Kart. Now, this would be god-awful, if it became a major part of the bands’ sound, but AGATG use the effect sparingly, and this saves them. Their sound remains deathcore, with simply an enjoyable, healthy dose of unusual nuances.
Typically, "The Game of Life" is an album rife with breakdowns, and while some of them are great, there are just a few too many. Luckily, thanks to all the crazy aspects of the band's take on their genre, the breakdowns are less noticable than they would be on a pure hardcore or metalcore album. What Arsonists Get All The Girls does need is more solos. They have some solos here and there, and they fit in brilliantly, sound fantastic, and do an incredible amount for the band, but, conversely to the breakdowns, there are not enough of them. The solos that are present are very short, and like the keyboards, are used as an additive rather than having a major role in the music.
I do have a complaint about the lyrics, but only one: in the second track, the line “Separating body from head” sounded way too similar to Tool’s line “Separate the body from the mind” on their song "Lateralus." Other than this, the lyrics are better than most -core genre fare. One of my favorite things about "The Game of Life" is the way the lyrics are actually vocalized. The singers shriek and wail and shout and bark and growl, and there is a huge amount of diversification here, something that I personally love. I can’t decide if they sound like SikTh or The Dillinger Escape Plan, or that piercing scream on AnalCunt’s "You Look Adopted." The singers aren’t great at what they do, and these aren’t notably well-done vocals, but they manage to suit the music perfectly, and continually kept me guessing.
Though the album closes with its weakest song, a simple, non-too-technical shout-along typical of hardcore bands, it is overall a fast-paced, fantastic listen. Arsonist Get All The Girls has managed to forge their own path without losing their way. One has to remember that this band started out as a joke between a few friends and, if the uncanny humour doesn’t work for you, just be thankful that the group didn’t decide to be a humour-core act, but saved their gaffs for the song titles. Arsonists Get All The Girls may be eccentric – okay, they’re definitely eccentric – but they’re not completely insane.
Highs: Vocal diversification, complex structures and technicality makes for a potent punch to the senses
Lows: Too many breakdowns, not enough solos, and shout-alongs like "So You Think You Know About The Game Of Life (Party In The Rear)"
Bottom line: This album is like running with the bulls – absolutely mental, but you should give it a go.
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