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The riffs of steel, extended version - 90%

Felix 1666, February 14th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2019, CD, Thrashingfist Productions

Greetings and best wishes to Thrashingfist Productions, because last year they gave the world 500 copies of this CD that bundles all four EPs / demos of the Australian semi-legend Armoured Angel from 1989 - 1994. Of course, 500 is a ridiculous number in view of the quality of the trio’s music, but it is better than none and it keeps the cult alive. Even the only vinyl is real party will probably enjoy the fact that one can listen to 18 songs without interruption.

The CD has this magic element that makes the entire album more than the sum of its parts. Naturally, certain inconsistencies show up, because the typical album concept is missing. For example, “Ordained in Darkness” is a prototypical closer (it was the last track of the EP “Stygmartyr”), but here it is placed on the fourth position. Nevertheless, these details may slightly hurt the flow of the material, but the sound of all single releases is pretty comparable (full, dense, almost apocalyptic, droning solos, only the songs of “Wings of Death” sound a little bit less heavy) and this fact lends the compilation a surprisingly high degree of homogeneity.

Thrashingfist Production did not prefer a chronological order of the EPs / demos and so “Wings of Death”, whose material is slightly weaker than the remaining tracks, does not open the release. This was a good decision, because a compilation needs, like any other release, an icebreaker right at the beginning. The four songs of the (original) “Stygmartyr” kick off the album, the only EP with six songs is following (“Mysterium”), “Communion” closes the album after “Wings of Death”. All tracks deliver mostly mid-paced, heavyweight thrash with a sinister atmosphere. Some dudes say they identify death metal elements as well, but from my point of view, these nuances can be neglected. The riffs, the vocals, the guitar sound and the entire aesthetics of the music make me speak of (black) thrash metal, even though high velocity is mainly missing.

The output from 2019 fails to deliver an information overload, to express it mildly. The thin booklet does not hold a detailed history of the band or something like that, but it shows the original artworks, some tour posters or the original tape design. To put it positively, the booklet does not take away the mysterious touch of the compositions. The music speaks for itself and each and every listener can enrich it with her or his own thoughts.

Highlights? Too many to mention, but “Stygmartyr”, “Myth of Creation”, “Enigmatize”, “Castration”, “Communion” and even the outros/full-songs bastards “Ordained in Darkness” (with a few lines of text) and the instrumental “Elegy” are definitely wonderful examples of metallic strength, robustness and power. (More details to the music are in the reviews of the original releases, so I will be brief here.) The riffs of steel, extended version, provide 18 monolithic grindstones and mark a fantastic feast of controlled, malignant brutality. I recommend to look out for a copy of the limited edition. 499 is the maximum number of copies which are still available.