For this, their fourth album, The Armed have done more than synthesize hardcore and noise pop into something intoxicating and vibrant; they’ve also thrown off the veil of anonymity. Until now the group cultivated an aura of mystique, revealing the occasional guest contributor but keeping the core band members a secret. Now, we have faces and names to go along with the music: Jonni Randall (vocals, bass); Chris Slorach (vocals, guitar); Dan Greene (guitar, vocals); Adam Vallely (guitar, vocals); Dan Stolarski (guitar, vocals); Clark Huge (synthesizers); Urian Hackney (drums); Ben Koller (drums); and Cara Drolshagen (vocals).
In the past, critics occasionally compared The Armed to Converge, and so it’s interesting to find Converged drummer Koller among the ranks of The Armed. Besides that, his bandmate Kurt Ballou executive-produced ULTRAPOP. The album also features guest work from Mark Lanegan, Troy Van Leeuwen of Queens of the Stone Age, and David Hayter, who is best known as the voice of Solid Snake in the Metal Gear Solid video game franchise.
Guitarist-singer Greene explained how the eclecticism of ULTRAPOP came together, saying,
“Crafting vital art means presenting the audience with new and intriguing tensions-sonically, visually, conceptually. Over time and through use, those tensions become less novel and effective-and they become expectations. The concept of ‘subgenre’ becomes almost the antithesis of vitality in art-itself a fetishization of expectation.
“ULTRAPOP seeks, in earnest, to create a truly new listener experience. It is an open rebellion against the culture of expectation in ‘heavy’ music. It is a joyous, genderless, post-nihilist, anti-punk, razor-focused take on creating the most intense listener experience possible. It’s the harshest, most beautiful, most hideous thing we could make.”
02. ALL FUTURES
03. MASUNAGA VAPORS
04. A LIFE SO WONDERFUL
05. AN ITERATION
06. BIG SHELL
07. AVERAGE DEATH
08. FAITH IN MEDICATION
09. WHERE MAN KNOWS WANT
10. REAL FOLK BLUES
11. BAD SELECTION
12. THE MUSIC BECOMES A SKULL (feat. Mark Lanegan)