Things You Might Have Missed 2011: Armor Column – Maximum Collateral Damage

Wow, how the time flies when you’re a reviewer! It seems like only yesterday we were welcoming in 2011 and looking ahead to a vast sea of new and interesting releases. But now we’ve reached that time of year when we at Angry Metal Guy Industries reflect back on the past twelve months in music. That means taking stock of what we liked and disliked, and sadly, owning up to all the shit we overlooked, ignored, missed or otherwise screwed the pooch on (oh, the SHAME!). First up on Steel Druhm’s Shame Spiral Tour is Upstate New York’s own Armor Column and their debut, Maximum Collateral Damage (available via MWA Records). Featuring a heady blend of old school thrash and traditional American power metal (Jag Panzer, Helstar), these war hawks led by fret-man Noah Carpenter (ex-Skinless) have come to batter, brutalize and bombard with their war-themed attack. At times ripping, at others catchy and always a bit rough around the edges and dirty, this was an unexpected but welcome surprise for yours truly that just didn’t get the review space it deserved (I blame Obama).

Their sound hits closest to late 80s thrash (think Overkill and Sacred Reich with some Exodus and Metal Church overtones) and from the start of “Warmonger,” things are pretty frantic and frenetic with lots of fast, driving riffs and the alternating barks and air-raid-screams of Jeff Andrews. This is the very soul of a guitar-driven affair and the riffs Carpenter and battery-mate Ray Russell come up with are solid and satisfying. Tracks like “With Blood and Vengeance,” and “Dictator’s Whore” hit fast and hard with as much subtlety as an RPG and both feature exceptional solos. Longer songs like the title track show off the band’s technical prowess without sacrificing any of the heavy artillery. Of the eight tracks, only “Rattenkrieg” feels expendable, with theƂ remainder being good examples of meat and potatoes thrash with power elements.

Aside from the effective guitars, Jeff Andrews puts in an impressive and diverse vocal performance. At times sounding like Overkill’s Bobby Blitz, and at others like Steve Souza from Exodus, he even adopts a style akin to Harry “the Tyrant” Conklin from Jag Panzer on “We Breathe Extinction.” His screams, snarls, blathering and bleating really put the album over the top into the money zone and even brings to mind long defunct and largely forgotten New Jersey thrashers Blessed Death. An inspired exercise of the pipes indeed. Kudos to you sir.

With the holiday season upon us, why not give yourself and your loved ones the gift of war-thrash? It’s better than the sweater Aunt Gertrude made for you and it’s WAY better than the whiskey infused fruitcake Uncle Murray made (or found in a dumpster). Sing with me, tis the season to kill all the enemy/ fa la la la la, la la la la/ bomb the towns and all their factories/ fa la la la la, la la la la.

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