October File - Holy Armour from the Jaws of God Review
by Mark Hensch
It seems that even music---that rare bastion of rebellion and a loud voice of change at that---has been lacking vitriol lately. Bands play it safe or follow trends, never really spitting on the masses with a glaringly outraged album about the state of things. Thankfully, Holy Armour from the Jaws of God is as far from such complacency as it gets. The latest from British political agitators October File, Armour rants and raves with a straightforward righteous fury largely lacking in today's political climate. Put simply, this is as much a call to arms as it is an album.
Just how powerfully does this call ring? The answer is loud but not exactly clear. Over the course of its ten tracks, Armour ricochets through a firefight of many different genres. Sometimes these songs nail the musical bull's eye, while on other occasions they shoot fairly wide.
The order of the day here is aggressive, politically-minded hardcore, with plenty of other disparate elements creeping in. Though the typical breakdowns, roaring vocals, and simplistic riffs are all here, elements of industrial's militancy ala Killing Joke, Ministry and Prong are on offer here. Though this is plenty odd by itself, the singing---which bellows and roars like outtakes from a Neurosis album---are extra weird too. Mix it together with the unrelenting social commentary of Rage Against the Machine and a slight tendency towards the OTT nature of the Dead Kennedys and one almost has the total picture.
With that said, Armour is endlessly compelling but not always in a good way. Opening cut "A Munitions Crusade" slowly works itself into a fine rabble-rouser with its slamming but catchy riffs and thundering aggression. The album highlight "Another Day" kicks back into a cool, brutal progression that is frenzied and memorable, lacerating and poignant. "Hallowed be Thy Army," meanwhile, explodes like aerial carpet bombings with its mechanized warfare of guitar and drums. Hell, the song even comes replete with a chillingly simplistic breakdown. Finally, the hypnotic "A Sun That Never Sets" grooves with a shamanistic shimmy worthy of Neurosis brawling with Black Flag behind sorrowful, apathetic punk caterwauling.
As sweet as these cuts are, this Armour does have a few chinks in it. "In My Magnificent Circus" toes the line between energy and hokey camp with a metaphoric narrative starring Emperor Nero of Rome. "High Octane Climate Change" makes excellent use of the quiet-to-loud sludge dynamic perfected by Neurosis but unfortunately wastes it on some piss poor claptrap about global warming that is not anywhere near as creative as it should be. Finally, I am all for catchy but straightforward brutality, but the pairing of "Friendly Fire" and "Blood and Sweat" runs together like a duo of Siamese twin joggers.
Despite these minor hiccups, Armour is at the very least interesting if not always excellent. It is worth noting that the majority of the cuts on offer here usually tend towards the powerful rather than the pathetic, as truly great punk and all its derivatives do. With all this in mind, Holy Armour from the Jaws of God is not exactly snatched direct from the divine but it sure comes fairly close.
October File's Holy Armour from the Jaws of God
1. A Munitions Crusade
2. In My Magnificent Circus
3. High Octane Climate Change
4. Another Day
5. Hallowed be Thy Army
6. Friendly Fire
7. Blood and Sweat
8. A Sun that Never Sets
10. So Poor
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October File - Holy Armour from the Jaws of God
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