I’ve thrown quite the barrage of punches in the direction of overly-Christian metal. It’s not that I’m anti-Christian, it’s just that I kind of despise worship in music. If I’m rocking out to some serious metal, prayer to any god(s) (aside from Viking ones, because that’s more thematic than religious) becomes akin to nails on a chalk board as soon as I recognize it. Now, not all Christian metal suffers from this: bands like Zao and Living Sacrifice have always been consistently awesome, and use religious themes as thought-provoking subjects rather than means of worship. I even have a special place in my heart for older Extol, and that starts to approach the border here and there. Recently however, I was exposed to The Crimson Armada’s new album, Guardians. It sent me back to the drawing board for my Christian metal argument, because as preachy as this record is (and believe me, it reeks of prayer), I can’t seem to stop listening to it.
The Crimson Armada is a melodic and technical death metal band that heralds from Westerville, Ohio. These guys don’t beat around the bush to affirm what side they’re on, though. One of the songs, appropriately titled “In The Eyes Of God”, features the line “In the eyes of God I am His testament”. Stuff like that makes my eyes roll back into my head, but hell, it’s hard to overlook just how friggin’ nasty the music actually is. As soon as the somewhat-title track “Guardian” takes off, one would have to consciously put forth an effort to not get into the riff-age. The guitar riffs are tasty and interesting, and the package as a whole is completely metal. Every aspect of this band is enjoyable to the true metal head.
It’s easy to compare these guys to a lot of bands. The guitars sound a lot like Arsis at times, and that’s certainly not a bad thing. This is very apparent in the opening riff of their second track, “A Filthy Addiction”. This track also contains a nasty Swedish death metal-esque riff structure throughout the middle of the song, and this is another staple of the record that earns it praise. The intro for the song “Revelations” also showcases some of the amazing guitar talents that the band possesses. The drums and vocals are very much like The Black Dahlia Murder; again, not really a bad thing. The drummer, David Puckett, is a human metronome, plain and simple, and I was definitely impressed by the level of variance he used. Couple this with the guitars, and the band consistently managed to hold my interest and keep things fresh.
The vocal tone throughout the album is consitently brutal. The lead singer is complimented by the bassist, who provides backing vocals, and together they do a lot of simultaneous high/low dynamics. Again, “Revelations” is a great example of this. The vocals over the breakdown towards the end of the song are downright mean. This is also noteworthy due to the fact that it’s one of the few times during the record where I can actually get into the lyrics, as they are more apocalyptic than preachy. Aside from this moment, however, the lyrical content is that of a typical bible-belt Christian band. This definitely hurt the record for me, because as enjoyable as the music is, I find it hard to sing along to.
Religious differences aside, I still love to rock out to Guardians. The Crimson Armada have released a solid death metal record, and even if I can’t get down with the message, I can seriously get down with the music. If you like bands like Arsis and The Black Dahlia Murder, you would be doing yourself a disservice by ignoring this record completely.
02. A Filthy Addiction
03. The Sound, The Flood, The Hour
04. In The Eyes Of God
05. The Serpent’s Tongue
08. The Final Words
09. The Architect