Minnesota isn’t widely known for exporting much in the way of heavy music. Children 18:3 comes to mind as notable, one to prove that growing up in the North Star State doesn’t predispose a band to a guest spot on A Prairie Home Companion, but there isn’t a massive track record.
Arms For Elephants is now making that record. Opting to chase the energy and melody of post-hardcore in a traditionally non-hardcore environment, the five-piece has been churning out songs that owe more to Warped Tour than to the fields of Minnesota. Having released a four-song EP (Identities) in 2014 and spending the year honing their live show and sound, AFE has emerged from the studio in 2015 with their first full-length album, My Judas Scene, which debuted here on HM.
There are plenty of elements a post-hardcore fan would enjoy – catchy choruses; passionate vocal performances; piercing screams and guttural growls; and guitars that stretch from both jarringly dissonant to soaring and melodic. The only downside to having those easily-identifiable hallmarks of the genre is that they easily recall the band’s influences a bit too strongly at times (Underoath, As Cities Burn, Taking Back Sunday and so on). The musicianship is great, but a little more diversity in the writing would certainly enliven future releases.
The album’s best feature, however, is its lyrical content. Title track, “My Judas Scene,” tells the story of God’s grace relentlessly pursuing us: “No matter where you go / I’ll find you where you are / I’ll never leave you alone.” “Oh, Complacent Heart” features a gentle whisper from God: “Fear not, for I am with you / Be not dismayed, for I AM.”
If this album is any indication, we can expect Arms For Elephants to continue to mature in songwriting, sound and performance. My Judas Scene is a prime example of a band shedding its training wheels and heading out into the brave new world. They’re forging that path just fine.