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Armed For Apocalypse - "Defeat" (CD)

Armed For Apocalypse - "Defeat" CD cover image

"Defeat" track listing:

1. We Fell From The Bottom
2. The Demon Who Makes Trophies Of Men
3. Fists Of God
4. A Failure
5. Hero Complex
6. Torch Light Search For The Dead
7. A Collapse
8. You Are Alive When They Start To Eat You
9. Temptation's Wings (Hidden Track)

Reviewed by on September 25, 2009

"The downtuned mess is the hallmark of the band and is central to 'Defeat.'"

Armed for Apocalypse has toured with a variety of bands – Unearth, Static-X, Lazarus A.D., The Funeral Pyre – and their music fits with all those lineups, simply because they are really heavy. Specializing in a doom metal sludge-fest, their crushing riffs and face-grating distortion would be accepted by any fan of metal anywhere.

“We Fell From The Bottom” begins with a mid-tempo avalanche of down tuned guitars and vocal roars by Kirk Williams. Moving through different time signatures, the melody is almost atonal as it gets swallowed by the distortion and production. As the song proceeds it continues to slow down and becomes much more Spartan. With the production opening up the space the song becomes less claustrophobic. By the end the tempo couldn’t beat an octogenarian in a footrace, and each instrument is almost alone in the black abyss.

The key to the brand of doom played by Armed for Apocalypse is that they do not forget they are writing rock songs. Despite the band’s clear disdain for sweep arpeggios, harmonies, and all things Yngwie, there are some rock god elements interspersed throughout. A pick slide in “We Fell From The Bottom” brings anticipation and delight, while the quick burst of “A Failure” features almost-hardcore riffs and a catchy almost-melody. “A Collapse” features a southern, slightly bluesy groove winding its way through the muck. Hidden track and Down cover “Temptation’s Wings” highlights the band’s swinging sensibilities, and for a second they might even be having a good time.

But the down tuned mess is the hallmark of the band, and is central to “Defeat.” Armed For Apocalypse never strays far from their chosen delivery method. Songs often get to the brink of a guitar solo or a speed metal break, but then the band walks away. They could play these more technical elements, but they always opt for the other direction, choosing even slower, more drudge-filled grinds than the fireworks of solos and speed. “You Are Alive When They Start To Eat You” builds and builds until the crescendo can’t go any higher, but then the song devolves into big chords played slower and slower as an outro.

“Hero Complex” is the only respite from the quicksand of Armed for Apocalypse and “Defeat.” A guitar dirge plays alone until it slowly ends, and then the bands rolls into a groove-filled riff with call-and-response vocals. Even the chorus has a recurring melody that gets stuck in the head. Halfway through the unthinkable happens. A guitar solo, albeit mirroring the melody, bursts from nowhere. The outro last for one minute, and despite being another head-boppin’ hayride, it slowly gets dirtier. But the song ends before the band can get back to their doom-laden ways. “Torch Light Search For The Dead” interrupts the dream, busting in with the standard shallow sludge melody, and the band is back to the norm.

Armed for Apocalypse swears they are “trolling the sea of heaviness at one of two speeds, slow, and slower.” This is mostly true, but there are glimpses of light among the creatures of the deep. Armed for Apocalypse can’t help themselves, and despite trying to be uncompromising non-sellouts playing a backlash against modern metal, what they have really done is just make a good metal record.

Highs: The crushing riffs get really good when they get a dose of groove.

Lows: The bass might as well not even be listed in the notes – it can’t be heard.

Bottom line: Huge doom metal with a touch of style.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)