Let’s cut straight to the point: the dudes in Arms Exploding sound better and rock harder than anyone has since At the Drive-in tragically splintered in 2001, the results of which left rock music in a sad and sorry state. Until now. On Ruminari, the band’s debut album, this Midwestern five-piece eschew any sense of traditional song structure and instead move from riff to pummeling riff with all the trademark impatience and abandon of the punk leaders of old.
The most interesting thing about Ruminari is how the band takes all the hallmarks of punk music (buzzsaw guitars, urgent vocals, propulsive drumming) and situates them into the seemingly opposite prog-rock genre. Here is a punk band unafraid of 6 minute running times and passages which focus on prowess just as much as raw emotion. Opener “Dancing Lepers” demonstrates the genius of the formula: the track sounds like a collection of 2 minute punk songs proper, piled one on top of the other, so that the song takes on all the unpredictability and recklessness of a progressive piece. As an added bonus, it all kicks an incredible amount of ass.
A chief concern with a band of this kind is whether or not they can sustain a full-blown assault for the breadth of an LP; Arms Exploding is that rare caliber of band that can. “Cross-Border Tunnels” has all the trappings of a hit single; the ratio of clean to screaming vocals tips precariously closer, and still the band never allows the song, or its music, to become watered down or boring. Even the closest thing to a ballad here, the 6 minute opus “Cupertino,” only spends about two minutes languishing in the down-tempo doldrums before it builds into an explosion of cascading drums, guitar blasts, steady bass and vocal histrionics. It’s damn powerful stuff from a damn powerful band. Recommended.