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White Arms of Athena – White Arms of Athena – 8.25/10

– White Arms of Athena did an impressive job making a name for themselves with their first album Astrodrama in 2011. They were praised for their style similar to bands like Between the Buried and Me, Last Chance to Reason, and The Contortionist. They return 3 years later with their follow up, and self-titled album. When songs got released from this album, it was clear that there was a big style change. The overall tone is a lot lighter. The album is mostly sung with slight moments of screams, the complete opposite of the first album. Also, in exchange of the complex transitions and changes from double bass fills and complex guitar parts to soft jazzy guitar moments and clean vocals, this album has a less frantic pace. It doesn’t focus on changes as much as building up and creating an atmosphere. One reason for this (in addition to the band wanting to head in this direction) is the change of producers. The first album was produced by Jamie King, who is known for his work with BTBAM and LCTR. This album is produced by guys who are known for their work with Converge, Baroness, Every Time I Die, and The Dillinger Escape Plan (including the legendary Kurt Ballou). These kinds of bands can be seen in this music. Instead of the crunchy complex riffs, we hear that classic Converge style in the frantic guitar hits to the sludgy guitar chords that are just rung out to create drone. We hear experimental guitar sounds at the beginning of the album’s centerpiece “This Transition” which is 11 minutes long. We hear dissonance in the melody lines in songs like “Heavy Sleep” and “On the Edge” and less in the instruments. In fact, the albums starts with 2 minutes of just vocals layered over each other. It definitely has a crunchier tone, very similar to what Intronaut has behind their beautifully executed vocal harmonies. Towards the end of the album we have “Participating in and Awakening to the Cycle”, which is just two minutes of ambient post rock to build up the last song on the album, which is “The ‘I'”. This song picks up from the previous song and builds up on the post rock even more, including riffs that sound like the band Pelican. The album is short, at just 38 minutes, and the new sound may isolate the fans who wanted this band to continue in that Progressive Metalcore path (I was really surprised that this album seemed to just fly under the radar and think it is because the drastic change in sound), but I personally enjoy the fact that this band tried something new. I think the song writing can become more solid and think that the clean vocals have room to grow stronger, but still think that this is a very solid album and see lots of potential for this talented band.