Arma Angelus
Where Sleeplessness is Rest from Nightmares

Arma Angelus, featuring ex-members of hardcore luminaries Racetraitor and Extinction, are conveniently Eulogy Recordings new warhorse following the spectacular demise of Santa Sangre.

Where most bands in this space use death and thrash metal devices to create a sense of heaviness missing in traditional hardcore, Arma Angelus’ thick, angular attack comes from a rock and roll sense of composition that’s every bit as heavy as their metal-infused counterparts. True, elements of Where Sleeplessness is Rest from Nightmares do delve into death metal territory (vocals, tuning), the majority of Arma Angelus’ material pummels to the tune of catchy, head-bashing song structure.

The album begins with ‘An Anthem for those without Breath and Heart,’ a single line mantra that effectively states, ‘Breathe their control. Fuck their control.’ Despite its length (1:20), the ugly, steamroller-heavy riffs recall Submit-era Pitch Shifter and Soul of a New Machine-era Fear Factory. However, Arma Angelus are by no means industrial. ‘We are the Pale Horse,’ like most of the other material on Where Sleeplessness is Rest from Nightmares, is quicker, less claustrophobic but still every bit as deadly. Using an infectious melodic lick to draw you in, ‘We are the” is like a hungry wolf watching a tethered goat. The strike is sudden, aggressive and unexpected. ‘For the Expatriates of Human Civilization’ is an angry rover when not in full attack mode. The song’s ultra-heavy chugging is spliced with a smart groove that’s in the same league as Cave In’s Until Your Heart Stops with a bombastic ending as explosive as Pitch Shifter’s ‘Tendrill.’ ‘To Feel No More Bitterness Forever’ and ‘Misanthrope 2.0’ execute a simple three-to-four riff formula in order to succumb and destroy their prey ‘ one is faster (‘To Feel No More Bitterness Forever’) than the other (‘Misanthrope 2.0’), but that doesn’t stop Arma Angelus from ripping your heart out and holding it to the sky like a deranged warrior.

The album’s two most interesting cuts are the last two. ‘Cold Pillows and Warm Blades’ has a spacey intro for Failure fans and a stuttered mid-section full of Sabbath’s blackened blues while ‘I’m Every Broken Man’s’ reflective opening could be a Country Western take on The Cancer Conspiracy. On the latter track, Arma Angelus riveting rock construction comes out in full force and even in its simplicity whips you around before it slays.

On the whole, Arma Angelus are very much an entity that has the capability of widespread success, but if I were to complain briefly it’s vocalist Peter Wentz’s hardcore signature shouts (verses growls, screams) seem unwelcome in the material, a hanger-on from the old days of the genre. Otherwise, Where Sleeplessness is Rest from Nightmares is a stellar album that’s every bit as abrasive, unexpected and stylish as some of those other bands I don’t need to mention.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Dick
January 24th, 2003

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