Arma Angelus – Where Sleeplessness is Rest From Nightmares

Arma Angelus
Where Sleeplessness is Rest From Nightmares

“Can this torment give me peace?” This question is asked by vocalist/lyricist Pete Wentz on Arma Angelus’s new full length Where Sleeplessness is Rest From Nightmares on Eulogy Records, and it poses an interesting thought. Does the process of surviving through pain and times of struggle bring about a more fulfilled concept of self and spirit in the end? That’s a topic that could be debated either way. This lyric is quoted from “Misanthrope 2.0” and is typical of the issues wrestled with in almost every track on this record. Their frustration with living in this modern and, in many ways, unfeeling society comes right through in the lyrics and, when combined with their ultra heavy and, at times, unrelenting sound, one gets the sense that these guys may have a few answers for those willing to listen.
For those unfamiliar with the band, Arma Angelus is a Chicago hardcore group featuring ex-members of Race Traitor and Extinction, two of the best and most politically on-point Midwestern hardcore bands from the past several years. Although Arma Angelus is not as overtly political and revolutionary in terms of lyrics as their members’ previous bands were, they do have a message to bring. Topics ranging from depression, relationships, apathy and revolution of society, and self-help pose many tough questions for those willing to look and think.
Although the band’s first EP on Happy Couples Never Last Records was a solid and well-produced effort, the overall blend on Where Sleeplessness is Rest From Nightmares is an even bigger step up in almost every way. The production is better, and all of the instruments are utilized to their fullest potential. While the EP had a bit more melody, the full-length makes up for the absence of melody by belting the listener across the head with loads of intensity and heaviness. They even have enough left over for a bit of rock now and then.
The album’s intro, “An Anthem For Those Without Breath and Heart,” begins with feedback and a slow beat building towards an explosion of double bass, thick guitars, and screamed vocals that ferociously open the record. The intro track fades right into “We are the Pale Horse,” which is a nice blend of Damnation A.D. style heaviness with some rocking Snapcase type riffs thrown into the mixture. Every facet of the band is given a chance to strut its stuff on this track. The guitars display versatility and attack the listener’s ears with squeals, thickness, and technical efficiency. The rhythm section keeps the song properly paced and leads it in seemingly every direction possible, from fast to slow, loud to silent. The vocals range from a guttural growl to a slightly sung/spoken feel at times. This is one of the best tracks on the record.
“To Feel No More Bitterness Forever” belts the listener over the head with Slayer style riffs combined with ultra brutal break down parts. The guitars shred with pick squeals and tight riffing laying to waste anyone not ready for an onslaught. When the song nears the middle, it heaves towards a brick-wall of a break down part head on. Pete Wentz’s vocals are given a full work-out here as they range from the predominant heavy growl, to spoken word, to a high-pitched wail. The combination of lyrics and music come together here to create one of the most emotional songs on the record.
“Misanthrope 2.0” is the same song as “Misanthrope” from the band’s debut EP. The major difference in this new version is that the production has taken a step up. The tones and intricacies of the instruments come through a bit clearer, and the pace of the song seems to have slowed down a bit, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, one could argue the sludgier pace makes the song more brutal than the original version.
The lyrics are, at times, just as bleak as many of the tracks from their EP. Just seeing the title of the track “Cold Pillows and Warm Blades” makes one want to cringe at the subtext. At the same time, tracks like “To Feel No More Bitterness Forever” give the listener a sense that even though life can be a tough and often times depressing chain of events, there is still room for hope and upliftment in the end.
In terms of genre, Arma Angelus would fall under the category of metal-hardcore. One cannot pigeonhole the band in that area necessarily though. They are not some generic Earth Crisis rip-off or Slayer wanna-be like so many groups in hardcore these days. The band takes elements from hardcore, metal, and even heavy rock and creates a thick, dark, and emotional sound that they have worked hard to come up with. While the band does not stray too far from its metal-hardcore roots, the other elements they bring to the mix help to keep each song interesting and a bit different. It’s nice to see a record so well put together in a genre that is pretty stagnant these days.
Arma Angelus is one of the best bands going in the Midwest. This excellent full-length on Eulogy should go a long way towards showing hardcore addicts that they are a force to be reckoned with. Their live performances are just as intense as their records, and each show brings continuously good word of mouth. Fans of hardcore and heavy music in general should pick up this release right now. It’s one of the first essential hardcore releases of the year and it’s going to be a tough one to surpass.