This vaguely sci-fi themed album, The Search, is the second outing from Gothenburg-based speed merchants, Armory and, on this occasion, when we cite the term ‘speed metal’, we are in fact talking about a band who write fairly straightforward metal tunes and then consciously – and by their own admission – rev them up as fast as they can play them.
So where are we headed with this thing?
Well, the late 1980’s, it seems.
That’s right, the Gothenburg tag may have fooled you into thinking you were heading for something classically Swedish, and quite possibly on the melodic death spectrum, but from this album’s short intro onto “The Search”, that just isn’t the case at all. Armory sound much more Teutonic and clearly owe a great deal to Helloween, with snatches of early Iron Maiden and possibly even Raven thrown in for good measure.
We’d like to imagine that The Search was cobbled together in knowingly nostalgic fashion because if it was, then it’s a solid win. We’re serious! Listening to this album, we almost felt transported back to those halcyon days of browsing lurid-looking European metal vinyl in record shops that smelled of dust and fags. The guitars are a dry, tight overdrive for the rapid-fire riffs then chorus drenched and lurid for the softer interludes. The vocals have a long reverb and plentiful use of a weird, howling vocal effect that’s as kitsch as it is fun. Even the drum sound is cymbals-heavy and brittle, just like back in the day! It’s almost as though, no matter what system you listen to this album on, it arrives via a second generation cassette tape dubbed from a ghetto blaster.
Musically, the speed thing works to Armory’s advantage and in their almost reckless use of tempo they remind us of Belgium’s Evil Invaders. Every song is pushed almost to the point of chaos and the result is that fairly standard classic metal pentatonic creations sound exhilarating and unhinged.
Okay, so tight-trousered speed metal – no matter how fun and riotous it is – won’t win any major plaudits in 2018. But Armory have a great vocalist to elevate them from similar throwback-acts. He has the campy Euro-metal thing going on for sure, but at other times he sounds like he’s straight out of a punk band. There are moments like “Utomjordisk Domains” where he mashes up Dead Kennedy-esque hollering, with male rock-tenor chops, all fed through a heavily Swedish accent and it’s oddly unique and charming.
Om the downside, Armory are fairly mono-paced and aren’t well enough styled (musically or visually) to impress glamorous 20-something metal girls en masse. And – let’s face it – unless you love the exuberance of their whooping vocals and galloping 16th note riffs you are unlikely to fall in love with them. But like us, give The Search a second lesson and just maybe you’ll get it. After all the most Swedish thing about this band is their passion for chaotic, flamboyant heavy metal and isn’t that something we all have in common? 7/10
ARMORY – The Search
Label: High Roller Records
Release date: 13.07.2018