It’s actually stunning that a genre like mathcore exists. In some ways, it is the epitome of everything that’s not music. Chaotic, dysrhythmic, abrasive, and avant-garde are only a few of the words that come to mind when talking about mathcore. However, it is this same dissonance and disarray that draws most people. When I first heard the genre, I was completely caught off guard. It’s authentic in its own world, because it’s pure emotion, driven by technical proficiency. With bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan or The Number Twelve Looks Like You and their respectively unique blend of the genre, mathcore was pushed more and more into the mainstream. But now with both of them gone, who will fill the void? Will we see a second wave of mathcore bands? Well, if so, I might have found one the bands leading the new wave. I present to you proudly: Arms!
Arms was initially founded as a single person project by the very talented Paul Hundeby. Although active in other bands, he wanted to become a part of the sonic space of ferocious music. Producing two records by himself, like-minded people eventually became aware of his vision and joined in. At this point, Arms is a complete band.
While Paul never thought mathcore would be coined as a widely known genre, he is very appreciative of what the community does for the band and that this support allows him to play what he envisions.
When asked about the reason that inspired him to make music for Arms in the first place, Paul answered:
“Experiencing contemporary works of art and wanting to be a part of music that inspires and influences a generation. I always ask myself when writing, ‘Will someone listen to this in 10 years?’ There’s no point in becoming something if you’re just another drop in the bucket.”
And I can attest you that Arms certainly isn’t your average band. While being extremely chaotic and violent in terms of rhythm and playing, the experimentation and texture of the music proves to be singular. Certain moments like the counter-rhythmic breakdown in “Ceremonial Monster” off of their album Blackout prove to be memorable and almost catchy. A no nonsense pragmatism seems to lead the music – either every detail matters or it’s not worth putting it in. The segues into other songs are fluid, often barely noticeable, which makes for a seamless experience. And if you ever thought about feedback being present in music as a feature, this record has already done it. Squealing feedback pours from the cabinets like ambrosial noise feeding the ears of fans of the genre. “What about pacing?” I hear you ask. Of course this is no issue here either. The songs have interludes that give the listener time for breathing and space out the music over a long period of time while avoiding monotony.
When asked to describe Arms in one word, the answer was rather simple: Arms. it can either mean nothing or anything. Its meaning gets attributed by the viewer. We are looking at a band that was founded purely on the basis of joy and admiration for the genre – nothing more, nothing less. Creating art for itself is, after all, a strong motivation.
An especially interesting aspect was revealed when talking about the meaning of the music itself, though. Paul had this to say about his own music and lyrics:
“I try to limit the constraints of my limited perception of reality, to: 1. Create a better experience for the listener to coexist with me. 2.To focus more on the story; I’m more interested in writing conceptual albums. My lyrics are a product of me and my conditioning in life but I try to be as rational as possible and write an objective stance on the topics at hand. I even go so far as to monitor the amount of “I’s” that occur within my lyrics.”
This was quite astounding to me from a writer’s point of view as well as a listener’s. For showing this level of dedication towards music, I can only wish the band the best and hopefully hear of their future endeavors soon.