The Armed are a modern band with modern ideas. So much so that beyond being a rabble of hardcore smothering pop tendencies – particularly on the aptly named, 2021 release ULTRAPOP – they’re also a morphing manifestation of anger, creativity, and refuting restrictions, with all the switches that ignite these ideas cranked to eleven – all whilst also not strictly having any official members. Simply utterly ambiguous with the the most direct intention.
ULTRAPOP: Live At The Masonic is the sonic counterpart to the cinematic release which happened late last year (which in itself is a marvel of Shyamalan-esque mystery and an embracing of the bands seemingly expanding cinematic universe masterminded by the bands protagonist, one Daniel Greene – part cult leader, part vocalist, who knows?!) But standing alone, the audio is worth a nod on the merit of the songs that, already housed on ULTRAPOP, find new gravitas and impact beyond the recorded caged slaughter.
It allows each particle in the large hadron collider that is The Armed to breathe. Existing in their own moment, and crushing together to make an impassable unit of sound, losing none of the albums impact – even with the addition of low slung orchestral strings. Recorded, The Armed are an abrasive sound, a purposeful one that challenges you to dig beneath the surface but live the organic nature of their being comes into play. The harmonies of “An Iteration” come striking through, while the darting guitars of “All Futures” pierce, but it’s the gentle hum of something more at play that embodies proceedings.
Live At The Masonic is most notable for its development of one of the most intriguing, beguiling and down right fascinating bands currently active. It poses more questions than it answers about their existence, while ensuring to completely wipe the board and leaving in the place of this extensive list just the remarkable vitality that a group of people playing music in the same way and space can conjure.
Even the setting of the Detroit natives legendary Masonic Hall (fully utilised during the walkthrough in the video accompaniment) plays into the mystery behind this outfit. Part cult, part hardcore band, all boundaries are pushed in the name of something. It doesn’t matter what it is, this is a journey that if you’re already on, you know how special it is, and if you aren’t, you’re missing out. Refract.