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Armory - Mercurion Award winner

Armory
Mercurion
by Chris Hicklin at 30 May 2022, 6:16 AM

Both the cover artwork and the track listing have me excited for this, the third full length release from Swedish Speed Metal band ARMORY, their first on new label home Dying Victims. Being an unapologetic fan of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, I am fascinated by imagined alien landscapes and space adventure, so names like “Journey into Infinity” and “Wormhole Escape” set my nerdy-sense tingling. More exciting still is the revelation that this is to be a sci-fi concept album, in the band’s own words, taking us on “a dramatic journey aboard the starship Mercurion, named after the god Mercurius – the winged messenger of the gods, protector of travelers, and god of boundaries between worlds”. Dramatic stuff let’s hope the music can live up to the premise.

Now, an important part of producing a concept album like this, is that it is not enough to simply write sci-fi based lyrics, the music must deliver the concept itself. Like scoring a film, it must evoke imagery, one does not need to see the visuals to be emersed in Vangelis’ world of Blade Runner, the music oozes the world it was written to describe. Happily, this is the case with ARMORY, first track “Message from The Stars” opens with a wicked drum fill before launching into a full-on onslaught of Speed Metal riffing. The lyrics and vocals are not even the focus here, the track is a musical tour-de-force with multiple guitar solos and breakdowns, the vocals are strong but restrained and the lyrics tell the tale of first contact and the decision to reach to the stars to investigate. The music in this first piece carries a sense of wonder and excitement and P.Andersson has a slightly odd vocal timbre, a strange warble effect especially on the higher notes which adds to the atmosphere. “Journey Into Infinity” slows things down and takes the music in a grungier, darker direction as the subjects of our story take their first leap into the unknown. This is followed by an otherworldly instrumental called “Transneptunic Flight” with exotic arpeggiating guitars and a driving Trad Metal riff.

The Hunters from Beyond” and “Deep Space Encounter” take us on an unrelenting thrash adventure as breakneck speed riffs are spat out one after another, with the latter being particularly spectacular. Our protagonists first encounter the aliens and find themselves suddenly pitched into space combat and this is reflected in the sustained punishing assault of the music. “Void Prison” delivers a foreboding sense of dread and terror, which is kept up with the slower, dark choral introduction to “Wormhole Escape,” a track which you might call mid-paced, but only by the standards set by some of the furious attacking music we have heard so far.

Penultimate offering “Music from The Spheres” ups the ante again with an epic seven-minute running time, jam packed with so many different ideas that it strays well into Progressive Metal territory, even going as far as to include a HAWKWIND like psychedelic interlude complete with Hammond Organs and swirling solos before exploding back into Speed Metal madness. The narrative in final track “Event Horizon” is a crushing one, taking a leaf out of Brian May’s book recalling the ending of QUEEN’S’39” as our heroes finally find their way back home only to find that pesky time dilation has rendered them relics of the past. Humankind has long since left behind their forms of flesh and blood and has turned the planet into a dystopia of shattered environment, industry and drones that seems not too unlike the world we live in right now.
The production on this album is decent, the performances are breath-taking, and the concept is an explosion of creativity. Great stuff.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Message from The Stars
2. Journey into Infinity
3. Transneptunic Flight
4. The Hunters from Beyond
5. Deep Space Encounter
6. Void Prison
7. Wormhole Escape
8. Music from The Spheres
9. Event Horizon
Lineup:
G.Sundin - Bass, Guitars
A.Holmström - Drums
N.Ingelman - Guitars
P.Andersson - Vocals
Jesper Lundin – Bass
Record Label: Dying Victims
     


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Edited 29 September 2022
 

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