It's been an eventful stretch of time since the release of Engine Down's last record, 2002's blisteringly gorgeous Demure. In the last two years, the group has signed to mega-indie Lookout Records, hit the road with huge bands like Thursday and Sparta, and seen its side project, Denali, get super-popular and then abruptly break up. Just a few weeks ago, the band even got all of its equipment stolen while on tour in Texas. Luckily, the Virginia quartet has something to take its mind off the tumult of recent months: the unveiling of its fourth, self-titled album, a stunning maturation of Engine Down's melodic post-hardcore formula. Like the gusts of a coming thunderstorm, the disc churns and rumbles with a moody disquietude, struggling for breath amid black swells of minor-key atmosphere and startlingly spiraled chord progressions. As adverse as life has been for the group lately, all the ups and downs have obviously honed the band's depth, substance and ability to write some majestically kickass songs. This weekend's shows will also feature Seattle's up-and-coming spazz-punk powerhouse, These Arms Are Snakes, providing a fitting complement to the headliner's slow-burning -- but well worth the wait -- intensity.
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