After listening to Finland’s Armour self-titled full-length on Hells Headbangers my jaw is permanently gaped in the stunned disbelief. It is one thing to claim you will be doing metal in the vein of your 80s heroes, but it is a totally different level to come off sounding truly retro, truly 80s, when metal was the rebel tearing up and reshaping the notions of what it was to be a rock star. I do not think they were making metal like this anymore, but Armour is a proof to the contrary.
An album like this simply cannot escape my personal reminiscence. Time - year 1986. Only final exams and one month left till my high school graduation in Kiev, Ukraine. Location – one of our female classmate’s apartment, who was fortunate enough to have a bigger apartment to host a party. People – me and my three closest friends and a couple or girlfriends, guys professing never ending love and friendship for each other in their 16-yr old drunken stupor. Soundtrack – Accept I’m a Rebel, Breaker and Restless and Wild, WASP The Last Command, and Judas Priest everything between British Steel and Defenders of the Faith playing on endless repeat. Almost a quarter of a century later I still remember that day, and I hope my friends, who now live on a different continent, do as well (although I doubt it).
With this album Armour, with Vince “Werewolf” Venom (formerly of Horna) at the helm, have completely captured that subtle feeling of traditional heavy metal of the early-mid 80s. This was the time when this music, often generated in less affluent industrial neighborhoods in various European countries, was revolting against a mainstream, yet deep down inside still yearning for acceptance. This was the time before everybody in the European metal scene thought they have Malmsteen’s skill to interpret Vivaldi and Paganini, or had to follow the epic, speedy path uncovered by Helloween. This was the music “from the concrete jungle” as Judas Priest so aptly put it. Armour remove none of the dirt and grime and, maybe, pile up additional layers of roughness with their album.
Armour do it with simple, some would call them primitive, riffs, which may not have taken long to compose, but they are absolutely swamping the listener in with their unbelievable catchiness and standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge/solo-chorus structure. Well, Accept music wasn’t rocket science either. Strategically placed sharp solos, drum rolls which make you air drum, audible bass and the best use of gang vocals since, well, Accept (see Roll Out (or Get Rocked)) are the essential elements of the style carefully nurtured back to life in Armour’s delivery.
The band is not afraid to have their riffs mimic the well documented classics (Hellfire is dead ringer for Judas Priest Rapid Fire) or play the solos on one string, yet twist and twirl it endlessly (Satan’s Knights). Can’t Resist Your Spell rolls out in the more expansive WASPian The Last Command style, Satan’s Knights rushes in a scorcher of a tempo, The Time Is Right is a locked-fist-waving anthem, while Rock’n’Roll Tonite, Sex Demon and Rock Out (or Get Rocked) are unabashed attempts of reaching for the rock’n’roll stardom (and your girlfriend and every other unsuspecting female in the audience in the process). Throughout this all Vince Venom maintains his Udo impersonation, down to copying the German’s phrasing in Ready to Attack.
If some found this review to be preaching to the younger generation to uncover the metal of the days gone by, it probably is that. Whatever the effect it will have on those who got converted into metal recently, Armour will seriously cut into my time listening to new releases, as revisiting of my complete Accept discography is an absolute must now.
Killing Songs :
Sex Demon, Roll Out (or Get Rocked), Hellfire, Ready to Attack
|Alex quoted 85 / 100|
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