"Earth, man...What a s@#$hole."

Aug. 3, 2014


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When I listen to black metal, I tend to group it into categories based on the second-wave forerunners. You have the blackened thrash of Immortal, the ambient drone of Burzum, the progressive Enslaved, symphonic Emperor, and the more rock-oriented Mayhem. I would place IXXI's Assorted Armament in the latter. While it is not exactly the black 'n roll of later Satyricon and the like, there is plenty of head-bobbing verse-chorus-verse to warrant the comparison.

The music itself is pretty basic and easy to describe. The vocals consist of growls that border on a deep croak at times. The approach is grim enough to get me making my Abbath-face, but also clear enough that each word is audible and understandable. Guitars are heavily distorted and provide riff after riff of catchy, violent hooks that walk the line between hard rock and metal. They lack the speed and complexity of acts like Absu, but are no less enjoyable. When paired with the drums, this is a recipe for neck injury. I had a few qualms with the production on the symbols and bass drum, but it wasn't distracting enough to ruin my experience.

For all of its reliance on the basic blueprint, Assorted Armament does take the occasional detour into other territories. For one, the lyrics are far more interested in the political than engaging the usual satanic sentiments. The current status of world government is compared to the "the last stuttering days of our modern Roman Empire." Related to this are the two major passages of spoken word that break up the album, "In the Name of Nothing" and "Imperial Requiem." Both of these consist of clean-picked guitar parts and doomy drums backing a performance that is more than reminiscent of Randy Blythe's on "Ashes Of The Wake" and the opener of "Omerta." While they are almost identical right down to the cadence and tone, vocalist TotalScorn sells what could come off as cheesy in a convincing enough manner to make them quite entertaining.

Final word: IXXI make anarchy as fun as any punk or industrial band. What they lack in innovation, they make up for with riffage and vigor in spades. From the poignant opening Ron Perlman sample, "Earth, man…what a shithole," to the intensely rocking "Armageddon Nobility" and title track; Assorted Armament is some black metal comfort food you do not want to miss. You can listen to two tracks and purchase this relatively cheap album at their bandcamp page. Patriots need not apply.