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These guys get namedropped a lot but have a pretty small following. That's a shame!
With a name as cool as "Armoured Angel," you'd think they would be more popular. A.A. started out in the mid-80s making totally killer black/speed metal, kind of like early Destruction. I think this is the era for which they are fondly eulogized by the Destroyer 666 crowd. By the early 1990s, however, they had completely shifted gears to something weird and unique.
The Mysterium EP sounds like what I imagined extreme metal sounded like before I'd heard any of it--it's built on a churning undercurrent of midtempo palm-muting, and it grooves like a beast. This has nothing to do with Pantera or deathcore, though. It's vintage black/death metal through and through. A.A. have a really strong sense of rhythm and melody, and they appreciate the power that comes from shifts and transitions. Their elegant riffing sounds superficially like Bolt Thrower, but has much more to do with Killing Joke. It radiates distorted warmth. The vocalist is great, with a deep and primitive death growl. All in all, Armoured Angel take a smart approach to a "dumb" sound, and it just works. It's so much fun to listen to. You'd think that there would be a ton of bands playing this kind of stuff, but there aren't.
If you have a friend who read about Sunn O))) on Pitchfork, and now thinks he is "into metal," play this for him as a litmus test. During the opening seconds of the first track, "Myth of Creation," you will hear a chug riff so archetypal it sounds like the first one ever written. Your friend's eyes should open wide with anticipation at the sonic carnage to come. At 0:20, the beat drops and the vocalist roars something like "diiiiieeeeeeee!" Or maybe just "daaaaaaaahhhh!" Your buddy should start headbanging furiously, and preferably throw the horns. Sadly, he will probably just piss himself and cry.
The most brutal moment, though, comes in the latter part of "Enigmatize." There's a somber melody followed by a single ringing chord. Then, at 2:59, A.A. go balls out with the most rapidly picked chug riff on the album, and the vocalist does his awesome "daaaaaaaahhhh!" thing again. He does that pretty much whenever he feels like it, and the great thing is these parts will make you want to growl random shit too.
The atmosphere of this album is amazing. It's heavy as fuck, but not in a typical death metal way. It's occult, but not in the stereotypical sense of the word with lots of reverb and spooky voices. It's physically gripping, but not just in terms of inducing headbanging: It's sensuous! This could be the soundtrack to some really gnarly sex. Mysterium embraces you and pulls you into a world pulsating with violence.
Anyway, if you're starting a band seriously consider ripping these guys off.
(slightly adapted from my original post at www.trialbyordeal666.blogspot.com)
This is the second CD from Armoured Angel, an Australian band playing
mid-paced melodic death metal. Released in 1994, it was the final
release from the band's original lineup.
Armoured Angel's style combines death metal rhythm guitar with heavy
metal leads and varied, gruff vocals. The atmosphere on this record is a
a bit like mid-period Bolt Thrower, only with a more melodic
edge. Solemn, crushing songs are this band's hallmark. The sound on
Mysterium is dominated by the low-end: there's lots of bass, the guitars
are tuned low, with plenty of crunch, and the searing vocals add even
more depth. The drums are kept far back in the mix, but they're still
The first few seconds of "Myth of Creation" are a tremendous lead-in to
the album... the angry, exultant feeling on this track is irresistible!
The main riff has a rolling sound to it, and the vocals follow much
the same rhythm. Some expansive lead guitar parts add a bit of
"Heir to Evil" speeds things up a bit, with nimble riffing and a rousing
chorus. There's a slower break in the middle, with some atmospheric
guitar and bass work. The vocal timing on this song is excellent.
The vocals on "Enigmatise" are insanely great -- varied, threatening,
and vicious, yet perfectly understandable. The guitar work is equally
fine, with plenty of cutting riffs. There's a nice, complex bass line
during the breakdown on this song, as well. To me, this is the
quintessential Armoured Angel tune.
"Carved in Sin" starts off with an explosive riff, and then settles into
an unrelenting rhythm. Between the speedy main theme and the heavy
slowdown, it's hard to resist a little headbanging...
"Pray for Me" is the most atmospheric song on the album, with mid-paced,
heavy progression drenched in caustic rhythm guitar. The sound here is
so damn bleak! The pummeling drums deserve special mention.
"Elegy" is an instrumental piece that finishes out the album. The lead
guitar work on this song has tons of feeling!
Armoured Angel's first lineup was never as well-known as they ought to have
been, despite their original and punishing sound. It's a shame, because
this EP is a stellar example of old-school death metal. If you can find
this, or any of the band's other releases, pick it up without
hesitation! Armoured Angel is among the forgotten jewels of Aussie
metal. Highest recommendations.
Standout tracks: "Enigmatise", "Pray for Me"
Review by Vorfeed: http:/www.vorfeed.net