Albums we’ve liked in 2018: The Armed’s ‘Only Love’


The Armed employs its entire tool box from the get-go: “Witness,” the opener of its third album Only Love, begins with a prog-like synth squiggle before roaring forth with an operatic blend of harmonic guitars, jackhammer rolls by hardcore skinsman Ben Koller and Randall Kupfer’s larynx-shredding melodrama. Chaos soon blossoms into an assured, cohesive and resounding work.

It’s not the Detroit act’s only magic trick. For one, The Armed manages to coalesce disparate influences; imagine a brew equally inspired by hardcore pillar Converge (which includes Koller and Only Love producer Kurt Ballou), lullaby metal crew Deafheaven, electronic post-punk outfit The Faint and Mellon Collie-era Smashing Pumpkins. That sonic profile works chiefly because the musicians excel at arrangement and balancing their extremes: rawness and beauty, cacophony and nuance, discord and tunefulness. The rhythmic artillery and instrumental squalling of “Luxury Themes” can’t discount the vocalists’ tack-sharp melodicism, an affecting juxtaposition repeated throughout the album. As such, Only Love isn’t merely noise and bloodletting, and the resulting complexity makes it a revelation.

Photo of Mike Prevatt

Mike Prevatt

Mike started his journalism career at UCLA reviewing CDs and interviewing bands, less because he needed even more homework and ...

Get more Mike Prevatt
  • The 2016 album Hardwired… to Self-Destruct is the band’s best in many years, and the setlists on the current tour haven’t skimped on its songs.

  • Last month, Wax Pig Melting also released a lyric video for “Noise Meditation,” a Nirvana-esque track that harkens back to the ’90s in the best ...

  • Tricky, The Orb and Goldie are all in town for separate shows.

  • Get More Music Stories
Top of Story