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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Armored Theory

The Fact Remains

Review by Gary Hill

This disc is a mixed bag from a band that shows promise. At their best they are a driving metal machine that has definite elements of GWAR. There are some moments that don't work as well, though, and a couple clunkers here. Still, overall this is a strong set. The biggest issues come with the mellower sections and the sung vocals. They have a tendency to get off-key, and it can be glaring. Going forward, I'd say that these guys should pay a bit more attention to getting everything on key or just focus on the more rocking stuff with the guttural vocals. They nail that stuff. On those numbers they still have a tendency toward awkwardness and being unpolished, but it is one of the charms of the music there. Some of this album earns parental advisories, so do be advised. These guys show a lot of promise and really nail it a lot of the time. The moments where they stumble a bit show that they have room to grow into their sound.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Armored Theory
Starting with ambient sounds, this becomes an acapella military call and response thing. It's an interesting little introduction.
Press
Powering in fierce and furious, there is a real power-metal vibe to this screamer. The vocals are part shouted, but part guttural. I'm reminded of Manowar to some degree, but the vocals are definitely different. A section later in the cut has dual vocals, some sung and some of the guttural ones. That part almost feels like a cross between Manowar and GWAR somehow. Mid-track it feels like the number has ended. A mellower movement emerges, stripped back and rather trippy. Abruptly a new hard rocking jam ensues from there. This instrumental section drives forward until it fades down to end the number.
Gingerbread Man
Pounding in heavy and pretty crazed, this has some killer riffs at the heart as it works out from there. I'm definitely reminded of GWAR here, both in terms of the music and the lyrics.
Kintsukuroi
Coming in heavy, this drops back to a mellower section that's pretty rough around the edges in terms of the sung vocals. That awkwardness really hurts this track. In fact, if you are going to skip something here, this should be it. It does grow out to more rocking stuff (in a rather odd transition) from there. That part of the cut works better, but it's not strong enough to really save the piece. The second mellow movement has some whispered vocals and guitar soloing only, making it work better than the first one did. They fire back out from there into some killer metal. They eventually bring it back to the mellower movement further down the road and it starts to struggle again. Once more it works better when they fire it back upward.
Wendigo
A pounding hot metal tune, this again makes me think of GWAR quite a bit. It has some great riffing and a lot of energy. I really dig the instrumental section that makes up the last part of the song.
25 or 6 to 4
Once you hear the power-chords doing the main riff on this Chicago tune, the idea of doing a metal version seems somehow obvious. They really twist this thing up, though. A lot of it has a detuned sound to it, bringing sort of a "psychedelic nightmare in hell" vibe. I have to assume that was the basic concept they were going for. The instrumental section later in the piece seems to ground it. They bring it back out to the song proper before it's all over. This is weird, jarring and oddly compelling.  A little noisy bit ends it abruptly.
Mindless
Coming in furious, this is a real powerhouse. Once it works out from there it becomes screaming hot metal that again calls to mind GWAR. A dropped back section here is a bit of a mistake, though. The grunted vocals work, but the sung ones are definitely not working. That brings a detuned effect to that segment of the track, taking away from the power and fury of the rocking stuff. Speaking of the rocking, they drive this out into screaming hot stuff further down the road.
Rain
This is a killer metal tune. It's still nicely unpolished and still feels a lot like GWAR. That said, it gets things back in the right direction after a bit of misstep on the last number.
Goodbye
This starts with a mellower, odd but tasty instrumental section. The vocals really sink this opening section, though. They power out from there with a metallic fury, bringing it more into the "win" column. That doesn't stay around long, though. They drop it back down, this time for some spoken vocals. Then it screams back out into a more effective movement. The cut drives forward with a raw fury. The sung vocals over the top mar it a bit, but it is strong enough to make it work despite that.
 
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