Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Armed--These Are Lights

I have been feeling painfully and increasingly under the weather the last few days.  I think that we can all agree that having a bad cold is probably the worst of those experiences that you can have that don't make you think that you're going to die.  It's just generally shitty, and the fact that it's largely bearable to have a bad cold makes it that much worse.  So these last couple of mornings I wake up and head straight to the sink to expel and behold what new horror my sleeping body has coated my esophagus with, followed by a day of trudging through work with the lonesome goal of getting to my long Christmas weekend keeping me standing.

Boo hoo hoo, right?

Since my wife is also out of town until Monday, my nights have been a rollercoaster of sitting around alone listening to music that trying to construct similes that pertain to human and/or animal genitalia.  Today I decided that I would pull something that I thoroughly enjoyed out of the vault (my iPod) to reinvigorate my body and soul, namely These Are Lights by The Armed.

I first caught wind of The Armed when some jerk with a Hitler-related pseudonym took over Metalsucks for a day or a week or some such thing.  Out of everything he wrote (and there wasn't much), the one thing I took with me was his high praise of The Armed (actually, it was the fact that he said they were good and they gave away all their music for free).  I proceeded to download their available discography, specifically the Common Enemies EP, followed in short order by These Are Lights.  What I found rocked my ass off at first listen, and now, during my fourth listen today, I find that the music has an additional degree of staying power, which is increasingly uncommon in today's atmosphere of music as a throwaway artform.  Indeed, as the fashion becomes to have more music downloaded/purchased/stolen than anybody else, it's ridiculously uncommon that somebody can give you their impressions of almost any album they listened to more than a couple of days ago, and less common (even for me) that half of what is obtained gets more than 1 full listen before it goes in the heap of "stuff I've heard."

Now.  The Armed tend to wear their musical influences on their sleeve, which is fine.  That they do it while still maintaining an identity of their own is impressive, as thi is a difficult balance to strike for any band, anywhere, ever.  The easiest and quickest comparison to make would be to Dillinger Escape Plan; The Armed appropriate the mathy, rubbery style of Calculating Infinity-era Dillinger to create their own brand of mathed-out thunder skronk.  The riffs shriek and yelp in a whirlwind of revolving time signatures and churning hemiola, off-kilter like that dude that we've all seen in Las Vegas who gets kicked out of the Venetian for being too drunk at 1 in the afternoon. 

The "mathcore" label might apply to The Armed even more than to Dillinger themselves, in that The Armed showcase much more of the typical hardcore underpinnings that (to me) always seemed absent from DEP's sound.  This is where their other obvious influence tends to appear: Converge.  Now, we all LOVE Converge, right?  Right.  The Armed pluck the ripe hardcore-apple from the Converge tree to synthesize their Mathcore Moonshine, creating something enduring and endearing.

I contest that if DEP and Converge all stood in a circle and touched their dicks together at the same time, The Armed would spring from that bundle of Glans Penises fully clothed in armor and wielding a spear.

The Armed also throw a couple of curveballs in the mix that really add some punch and pizzazz to the mix; gang vocals (a personal guilty pleasure of mine) rears its ugly head from time to time to make the whole shebang sound like the soundtrack to my formative high school years.  My favorite moment in the album comes in the form of the connecting vignette titled "I Steal What I Want," which is a hamfisted swing tune with a totally killer clarinet player JAMMING THE FUCK OUT.  Silky chalemeau to soaring squeals, the clarinet player glides in and out of the heavy-handedly strict tempo, weaving a gorgeous soundscape with his/her/its flowing, expressive rubato.  It takes me back to my college years where the thought of a #11 would cause nocturnal emissions and the inability to look anyone in the eye the next day.

Does all this waxing ecstatic make you want to check this out, or what?  Well, why don't you just follow your nose to their impressively slick website and download this and their EP for FREE?  You might like it, and if you don't, you should tell me all about it in the comments.

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