My love for Detroit-based artist collective The Armed is well documented through out their wildly entertaining career thus far. During their live performance at Saint Vitus Bar earlier this week, their first time in New York City, it hit me more than ever that this is the band America is crying out for, if they ever wake from the Bacon-wrapped burger coma.
As smoke billowed the stage, and the scent of oysters and cheap wine filled the air emanating from the table that was propped in the middle of the room, the band ripped into their furious brand of cordial chaos leaving anyone in attendance with a literal jaw drop. Any direction you looked, there was something happening: Swamp Thing eating shellfish, a band member taking selfies with fans mid-song, their vocalist pacing the entire room like an escape mental patient, and roughly seven dudes on stage thrashing like a fish out of water in a sea of smoke and lights.
It was one of the most entertaining sets I’ve ever seen at the legendary NY bar, in the name of art, or madness, one can never really tell.
So how is it that The Armed are not 72 times bigger than they are? Well, I believe the inherit confusion behind this "unmarketable" band with no label support might be the actual culprit. As one of the most mysterious bands in metal’s history, no one actually knows much about who is involved in this project over the past decade. That is, until Noisey asked their Jr. Gumshoe to put down his jelly donut and compile an investigative report on the most unknowable band in hardcore.
The biggest reveal of the fascinating read is the section in which reporter Max Frank speaks with the band's producer, Kurt Ballou of Converge and God City Studio, about who is really behind the band. Ballou responds:
“When I started the band I was thinking a lot about how the division between a band (or any known entity for that matter) and its audience has changed in the era of social media. The direct access can build close relationships within a community, but it can also create disproportionate senses of entitlement. My idea in creating this project was to disrupt that culture by forcing people to focus only on the content, not the creators, hoping it would usher in an era in creative culture where the work is more important than the workers.”
Well, I never saw that coming! One of metal’s most notable producers might actually be a ring leader behind hardcore’s great mastery? Another layer of confusing oddities in the world of The Armed. If true, it kinda makes you think what else is Kurt hiding from us. Was he a ghost writer to Slayer’s Diabolus in Musica? Does he create Kawaii-inspired dub-step in his spare time? Is the mustache even real!?
Unfortunately, I’m left with more questions than answers, but that’s par for the course with this group. While we continue to speculate what The Armed is all about, you should probably give their latest album, Only Love, several spins. The only thing I can be sure about, is that it's one of my favorite albums of the year.