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Formed from the components of a number of Leeds-based punk /noise outfits, Broken Arm are a supergroup of sorts, involving former members of Sailors, Woman, Like A Kind Of Matador and the incandescent, slightly terrifying Mob Rules. Life Is Short is their debut album, arriving six years after their formation, and expands their sound somewhat from the short, sharp shocks of the Negative EP from 2011. The last track on that release, the grinding 'The House Rules', pointed to a less frantic approach, and there are moments on Life Is Short where that progression is thrillingly brought to fruition.

There are obvious touchstones on the record: the outputs of Fugazi and Minor Threat and virtually any band on SST Records (Black Flag and Soundgarden in particular) all loom large. However, it is credit to the band's verve that they are soon able to break up any games of 'spot the influence' with their relentless attack.

Slightly unfortunate, then, that they open with the relatively pedestrian 'Hard To Live' which, for all its dirge and menace, doesn't really have much in the way of a dynamic shift, and seems sluggish for a band with such obvious energy and smarts. Similarly 'Under the Table' is let down by a slow section which aims for foreboding but ends up feeling a little undercooked. The band truly get going in an exceptional mid-section, starting with the triple-whammy of 'Double Talk', 'Waiting For A Call' and 'Newsreader', the latter featuring some superb guitar and drum-based heroics. Tellingly, these three tracks are the closest the band gets to their concise hardcore roots; they are bracingly chaotic (all sub-three minutes) and bursting with terrific performances. Another slow track 'Directions' follows, but this time they really nail the dirge, capturing that despairing-yet-defiant tone that defines so many of the best hardcore bands. The title track is perhaps the most accessible on the album, coming on like The Fall circa Fall Heads Roll (or perhaps it is simply singer Nick's Northern drawl that puts me in mind of MES...), and closer 'Escape Route' represents the best summary of the band's sound thus far, beginning with some more boisterous thrash before segueing into a maelstrom of noise.

Life Is Short is a slightly frustrating album, but one which improves track-on-track to become a thing of quite serious heft. Presumably some of these songs are over five years old, but they still sound remarkably fresh and furious, and there's also evidence that the band can move even further from their 1-2-X-U roots to embrace a more bluesy approach (see 'Hard To Live's neat turnaround, or 'Guilty Conscience's Cramps-esque guitar licks). It's the sound of a band finding their feet - then using those feet to kick some shit over. It is also the best fun you can have while simultaneously being fucking furious.

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