The Armed Untitled 02Detroit’s The Armed caught fire in 2012 with their second EP, Spreading Joy and haven’t lost momentum since then; successive years have seen EPs, splits, and singles, but until now an LP has been elusive. Now we know why. This LP, left untitled, is an out-of-left-field insurgency, absolutely decimating the group’s previous output and reinventing the mosh-friendly and hard-hitting mathcore that made “Cop Friends” and “Sterling Results” smash skulls and wreck cervicals. It’s hell and a half in a handbasket doused in kerosene, with even more noise and a healthy dose of Dillinger Escape Plan, despite the four years since Chris Penne’s work with the group on Spreading Joy.

While the album opens with a barrage of manic and inventive hardcore reminiscent of a more sane – and hornless – Idylls, it’s the seventh song, “Dead Actress” that will absolutely floor you. The Armed throw a genius wrench into the works halfway through the LP and go all “One of Us Is The Killer.” “Dead Actress” doesn’t reinvent the wheel – it opts to leave the road entirely. Its abruptly soothing entry completely blindsides you every time. Never did I expect to see this level of melody and suspense from a group that usually produces the soundtrack to an arson. This level of jazzy melody hasn’t been seen since “I Steal What I Want” and boy has it been sorely missed. “Polarizer” continues to amaze with its polyrhythmic synth leads and midtempo crooning sandwiching typically obscene guitar work.

It’s all uphill from there. “Ender” dips halfway through in order to introduce the group’s feedback obsession to a piano and the two become fast friends, smoothly (in the loosest sense of the word) setting up the surf-rock tinted “No Risk” and reuniting in “Issachar” for another crack at Farewell All Joy-styled miscreancy. For all of their Dillinger-inspired switchups, you’d think The Armed would come off as derivative, but in fact the opposite is true; they’re much more punk-rooted than the aforementioned, making heavy use of gang shouts, d-beats, and simple chord progressions.

And speaking of D-beats, the group’s recruitment of Baptists drummer Nick Yacyshyn couldn’t be more appropriate. His explosive performances perfectly compliment the group’s wild-card riffing, and he’s able to hold down the fort even when the brake lines are cut. Equally commendable is Kurt Ballou’s gritty but impeccably balanced production job, although I must say this album might have been more fun if it were just a bit dirtier. But with the second half of the album’s focus on melody and experimentation, the slightly sandpapered approach makes sense, even if it smooths over a bit of character.

The Armed Untitled 01

Once you’ve spun through the LP once, the first half starts to make more and more sense; it’s about tricking you into thinking that the band is out of tricks and content by delivering variations on Spreading Joy. But if you listen again, the foreshadowing post-hardcore melodies of “Nervewrecker” and the ‘ripped straight from The Physics House Band‘ bassline of “Blessings” should have instantly told you something was up.

After years of waiting, The Armed have dropped on a hungry but unsuspecting fanbase a debut that stuns with its balance of maturity and true-to-form street urchin angst, and in typical fashion for the band, it’s available free of charge and, of course, context. Members yet again chose namelessness and present their work behind a puzzling David Bowie impersonation and a puff of smoke, sans title, calling to mind the blindfolded, alligator-holding man gracing the cover of their split with Tharsis They. The Armed present themselves in a laconic fashion, so it’s my job to tell you what they won’t. This album will fucking wreck you.


Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: Lossless FLAC
Label: No Rest Until Ruin
Website: TheArmedOfficial | Facebook.com/TheArmed
Release Dates: EU: 2015.07.03 | NA: 07.10.2015

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  • Francesco Bordoni

    Solid shit! m/

  • Martin Knap

    This is knocking my socks off.

  • Excentric_1307

    I know it’s a part of the genre, but I don’t really care for the vocals. I know they’re “all-out” but by the end of the album you’re really just looking for some sign of variation. Dead Actress has some serious impact for this very reason.

    I “get” the album though, I just don’t know if it’s my favorite.

  • Kronos

    I have to point out that the music video for “Forever Scum” is fantastic.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bCSrENlCOk

    • Martin Knap

      today I came across “Megadeth – The Right To Go Insane” and it’s pretty rad too ;-)

    • Doomdeathrosh

      that, kinda sums up the album doesn’t it!

  • Wilhelm

    Sorry but this doesn’t sound much different than your average metalcore band, just a lot of aggressive screaming and lacking melody – The music is tight and well played (I’ll hand em that) but there’s not much substance to the song writing. Whatever genre this belongs to, I’m just not a fan of.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I was into punk and hardcore back in the 80s, so I’m not a virgin when it comes to extreme music like this (Raw Power and Die Kreuzen come to mind). No doubt they’re capable musicians, but the vocal work doesn’t work for me.

      The cover art has an Aladdin Sane vibe going, but for me this is more like a Diamond Dud (sorry, cheap shot, but I couldn’t resist the pun).

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    I don’t think I’ll ever “get” this sort of stuff (seriously, I like one DEP song and it’s the painfully obvious one), but I’ll be damned if your review didn’t make me check out the album. Still don’t like this kind of thing, but thanks for convincing me to give it an honest shot with this quality pen…er…keyboardmanship, Kronos.

    • Kronos

      Is it… Black Bubblegum?

      • Damnit i was deciding on that one, I’m gonna say “milk lizard” then.

        • Luke_22

          I’m gonna guess “Panasonic Youth” or “One of Us is the Killer”.

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        Nope! It’s Setting Fire to Sleeping Giants.

        • Take comfort that it wasn’t that obvious then.

  • michael rodrigues

    AND ITS FREE ON BANDCAMP!! WOOO!!

  • Hróðvitnir

    Can’t really wrap my head around this: it’s well executed and constructed, sure, but I fail to see the creativity in the songwriting and the vocals are a turnoff for me. But your review made me want to check it out, despite labelling it as metalcore; I agree with most of what you wrote though, so it’s probably that it just personal opinion. Admittedly, I do enjoy listening to a few songs at a time, and many of them are fun alright.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    I love metal and all, but this is just noise. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion of course, I just thought that when I saw the review I’d like it. Gotta make sure I pay closer attention to the style listed at the top of the review ’cause this hardcore stuff is NOT for me.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Interesting record, Dead Actress is definitely the pick for me…Not sure how much I’ll go back to this one but cheers to the band for the free download.

    Also the cover is great it both baffles and sticks in your memory.

  • Looks like I’m one of the few in the comments that will agree with you Kronos. This is awesome, but definitely more hardcore than metal so I can quite understand why many readers won’t enjoy it.

    • Roquentin

      I’m with you. Well, not a 4.5 for me, but a 3.5~4.0 for sure and a really good hardcore record overall.