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Snailbones Drops Keelhaul 'em All

Snailbones is an electrifying band that doesn't pull its punches, and that's putting things lightly. On Keelhaul 'em All, these Portland rockers come scorching out of the gates with a raucous riff on "Mouse Clap.” What an intro to the album. But Snailbones has more to offer than head-bang-worthy guitar-noodling. The vocals are absolutely mesmerizing too. There's nothing more satisfying than a rock band with a frontman who can match the energy of the instrumentation. The guttural shout-singing manages to take prominence, even atop manic drumming, heavy guitar riffing and a thick bass rhythm. This is how you do an opener for an album. All rock bands, take note. Seriously.

"Dead Inside" is a tighter song in terms of the placement of notes and the punchy, restrained drumming, and I think I love it even more than the opener. The riff is so catchy; those couple of bending guitar notes are real ear-worms. I find them ringing in my head even as I write this. And then Snailbones offers more ferocious drumming, metallic bass guitar and roaring vocals. The choruses explode into a world of chaos that really make the build-ups feel all-the-more satisfying. Another great song. And it leads into the surprisingly mellow, but welcome, "Sweet and Serene.” As the title suggests, this is a melancholic track, but not a somber one. There's a peaceful beauty to it. Tranquil guitar chords are strummed on clean electric guitar. Of course, that wasn't going to last for the entire song, was it? The choruses are full of explosive distorted chords and smashing drum cymbals. I often talk about the value of loud-quiet dynamics in music, and I think this song is a perfect example of that. The choruses carry more weight because the verses are so calming and understated. It gives the song variety.

"Break Apart the Day" is a punchy, feel-good track driven by female vocals that really show a different side to the band. There's a fast-paced ferocity to the track, but the drums are punchy in a very intimate, restrained manner. Combined with slightly-cleaner guitar (though manically strummed), this track feels like more of an indie rock banger, but I'm here for it. It's great to see another side to a rock band. It keeps the music fresh and intriguing. And the combination of male and female vocals on this track adds layers of musicality to the song. The more sonic variation, the better. That's always my approach to music. "Break Apart the Day" is such a short song, but it's so eclectic that I honestly believed it to be much longer than two-and-a-half minutes. I think that speaks volumes of how much the band packed in there. I think it speaks volumes of the band and this album as a whole. It's a diverse and exhilarating musical experience that's well worth your time.

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