The Crimson Armada

Guardians

Written by: BL on 29/09/2009 18:34:03

I've just noticed something about the recent wave of Joey Sturgis bands I've been listening to: almost all of them come from Ohio, including the likes of The Devil Wears Prada, Attack Attack! and Miss May I. It doesn't really come as a surprise then that The Crimson Armada are from Ohio, and their debut "Guardians" is produced by none other than the Sturgis man himself. Though all in all I've gotten so used to his precision techniques and super glossy sound that I've started to think most of these bands wouldn't sound as good without them. By the way, atrocious album cover, yuck!

The Crimson Armada are a technical melodic deathcore band. That is to say that it is based on the idea of combining metalcore with melodic death metal from The Black Dahlia Murder. The end result really is essentially a heavier version of Miss May I, whom I reviewed a while back. They share a lot of similarities - breakdowns, melodic death metal riffs, impressive drumming. But within these similarities there are a world of differences. For a start there aren't as many breakdowns; most songs will have one or two at most and usually they're backing some very impressive harmonised riffs ("The Sound, The Flood, The Hour" ends on a really cool one), and you might get some synths in there too. Then the melodic death riffing itself is often far speedier and far more technical than Miss May I's and there's a lot more lead guitar - sweeping, tapping, and the occasional solo. "In The Eyes Of God" is perhaps the most conventional deathcore song (the minor riffing Whitechapel kind), yet even so there is a wealth of catchy riffing throughout the song (at 1:00 and 1:57 Dan Hatfield and Josh Jardim crank out some seriously addictive guitar chops). The same goes for "The Final Words" - fast paced lead based guitar licks designed to trouble those who try to get their head around them. While the Black Dahlia Murder worship starts to grow a bit thin on repeated listens, overall I was quite impressed with the sheer abundance of melodies at hand.

Vocalist Saud Ahmed impresses as he switches between some seriously derranged high pitched screams to guttural low death growls, or sometimes both at the same time. The lyrics are very faith orientated, and this is pretty much immediate as soon as the first track kicks in: "Can you show me what it's like to be alive?" - if you have an issue with strong religious lyrics then you'd be advised to probably not look at the lyrics, or you might find it a huge turn off to know what they're singing about. Elsewhere the drumming is simply fantastic from David Puckett, very varied and relentless like a machinegun. Joey Sturgis' production really allows the drums to stand out in most of his records now I find: clear as day and ultra precise. Bass is barely audible and follows the rhythm guitars, making no mark of its own as per usual (something that needs to change sooner or later).

The other downsides are that some of the songs tend to drag on a bit, often exceeding the 4 minute or 5 minute mark. On opener "Guardian" I felt the song should have really finished after the re-introduction of the intro at the end, but instead it carries on for a while longer rather meaninglessly. Otherwise a shame since the main riff for that song is very catchy, and in essence that's the band's best selling point - the hook based guitar riffs. But these guys need to learn to better utilise a catchy song structure too because often you find a great riff that doesn't necessarily fit with the next part at all. In other words, like Miss May I, these guys need to perfect their songs a little more and shave off a little excess weight. They can certainly write quality melodes, but considering the borderline we've heard it before tag that comes with these Sturgiscore albums, it isn't enough.

Download: A Filthy Addiction, Revelations, The Final Words
For the fans of: Miss May I, The Black Dahlia Murder, Born Of Osiris
Listen: Myspace

Release date 07.07.09
Metal Blade Records

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