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The riffs of steel - 89%

Felix 1666, January 14th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2017, 12" vinyl, Hells Headbangers Records

First of all, I want to greet TheStormIRide and the Metal-Archives anti-plagiarism committee. I salute TheStormIRide, because the excellent headline of this critique is stolen from his "Communion" review and this marks exactly the point where the committee comes into play. I strongly hope that it does not ban me in view of this criminal activity. But I have to admit that the headline of the renowned colleague hits the bull's eye in the best possible way when we speak about Armoured Angel. These dudes have posthumously become a legend, at least in my private metal cosmos. Their, well, riffs of steel and their dense guitar carpet that build the basis for all of their songs pour out the spirit of violence in every second. In addition, their often chosen mid-tempo approach creates an iron sound which seems to be the acoustic equivalent of the sight of molten steel. These outsiders doubtlessly spread the message of pure heavy metal in an impressive manner. Please understand the words "heavy metal" as a generic term in this context. It is not meant as a genre description, because Armoured Angel play extremely sinister thrash. But their aura is exactly the aura that should be generated by an uncompromising metal band - and that's the reason why I was speaking of outsiders. True heavy metal does not originate from the centre of society.

It is a pity that Armoured Angel's discography is filled to the brim with EPs, while full-lengths remain a very rare commodity. However, the Australians make the best of the situation. Their compact formats are free from any kind of fillers. On the other hand, we must not renounce exciting highlights. The riffing of "Enigmatize" combines catchiness and merciless intransigence excellently. It's by no means that kind of catchiness that has its eye on the mainstream audience. I am speaking of this strict, relentless and clear structure that also made songs such as "Fallen Angel" (Possessed), "Ordered to Kill" (At War) or "Hell Awaits" (Ratt - haha, little joke) to earworms. And all these bands - with the exception of Ratt - are not too far away from the general approach of Armoured Angel, at least regarding the level of uncompromising power. Nonetheless, it remains a fact that this trio from down under has found a very individual style without integrating highly original or external elements. The terrific overall impression is created with the usual tools, but the band uses them in a very intelligent manner. By the way, I don't want to hide the fact that "Mysterium" also holds songs with comparatively fast eruptions, namely "Heir to Evil" and "Carved in Sin". Anyway, it cannot be denied that the slower sections characterize this EP and the work of Armoured Angel in general.

Due to the powerful and almost impenetrable production, the music develops its full aroma. The riffs cut through the sound like a hot knife through butter and even a seemingly mild piece - the outro - offers some screaming guitars in addition to its casual flow. It is a little bit sad that the final number is an instrumental, because the deep, demonic and imperious vocals mark another strong feature of Armoured Angel's art. Some dudes will surely blame the lead vocals for being monotonous, but I guess the dick of these grumblers is simply too short (please recognise my high sophisticated way of argumentation). In other words: the lead singer does an outstanding job, because this type of music needs this commanding kind of singing. Metal was not invented to make many compromises. The here presented style of singing matches the musical way of proceeding and therefore everything is fine. The ironclad EP gives you the feeling of being placed between the hammer and the anvil and the guy who holds the hammer in his hand has never heard of things such as mildness, loss of power or humanity. However, this vinyl is meant for all those thrash metal freaks who choose heaviness instead of velocity and strictness instead of variety from time to time. The riffs of steel will definitely not disappoint them. If you have any doubts, buy the great re-release (grey vinyl, band photo on the B side) of "Mysterium" or ask TheStormIRide.

Immersive - 98%

skoggangr, April 28th, 2011

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)

An underrated classic of Australian metal - 95%

vorfeed, May 13th, 2006

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
perfectly audible.

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
variety.

"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