In yet another exercise in poor album art, apparently someone became fascinated with the blue cellophane encasing his or her untouched fruit basket, combined this with a love for arbitrarily changing font sizes, and came up with this gem of an album cover, sure to pique the interests of anyone fingering through the “Used 90s Albums That No One Cares About Anymore” section of the local Half Priced Books. Thankfully, like many design-inept 90s guitar rock bands, Arcwelder’s Entropy is far, far better than their choice in packaging aesthetics.
As I unsubtly just hinted, Arcwelder is one of those bands that sounds like a distillation of “90s guitar guys on independent labels,” and it even shows in their non-musical representetions- 1991’s Jacket Made in Canada comes with a record label catalog that sells t-shirts strictly in large and extra large. SO WHAT SETS THEM APART, you ask? Well, it’s kind of hard to describe. I find their vocals to be both distinctive and pleasing- Bill Graber and Scott McDonald sing in an almost identical register, which is similar to that of Bob Mould, and often back each other up, creating a sound of DOUBLE TRACKED BOB MOULDS without actually doing any double tracked vocals. The other brother, Rob Graber, only ever plays bass or guitar, and therefore is incredibly lazy and slobbish, leeching off of the rest of the band’s efforts. In addition to that last snippet not really being true, they tend to jump between a stuttering post-hardcore sound and a 90s “heart on sleeve” (for lack of a better expression) Archers of Loaf style within the same album and/or song- which are two things that rule.
Honestly, none of their albums really sound that different, but Entropy is my pick because of it’s consistency with being able to rock hard, be melodic, or both. Some of their other albums, even though they’re all pretty good, have a tendency to contain a few songs that don’t really do either, which suffers at the hands of the unvaried vocals. It’s also the first of their albums that I purchased due to it receiving a check mark on Allmusic.com, so I may just be obeying what people on the Internet that I’ve never met are telling me. Either way, it contains examples of everything I mentioned before- offbeat post-hardcore (“Captain Allen”), sort-of-sappy heart-on-sleeve stuff (“I Promise Not to Be an Asshole”), combinations of both (“Blowin’ Smoke”), and the greatest song ever (“Turn To”).
And yes, I realize that these entries are getting a little bit 90s heavy, BUT I’M WORKIN’ ON IT! My next review is going to be the very first Helmet album. I’m not sure if I’m joking yet.
Get all 90s listenin’ and stuff with Entropy: