It’s rare nowadays to get something across your desk that feels genuinely dangerous, snarling with such vitriol and glowering menace that one can only reflexively flinch. Crime As Theatre, the EP debut by Armagideon Time, is one such moment in recent memory for me.
It starts with the cover: lynched klansmen bloom as ghostly smears across a tintless tree. It’s a stark reversal of the horrific lynching postcards that permeated the national consciousness of America up and into the 1960s. The numerousness of its targets just indicates the bloodthirst the band has waiting for the listener.
There’s always the moment before the needle hits, in that limbo between the experience of the visual offered by the cover and the auditory of the noise, where expectations spike and jitter. What kind of ride am I in for here? Is this going to be what I hope it is?
Sometimes it doesn’t live up to what you were expecting, and sometimes it’’ what you expected and nothing more. In some cases, however, there’s a moment when you realize you’ll be listening to this for a long time to come. For me, it came 28 seconds into the first track, “Stimulus Fuck.”
The best parts of crust punk, d-beat, thrash (and whatever other subgenres you want to crossover comfortably into this tried and true mix of hardcore punk) are not when the same components of the formula are achieved. It’s when an intangible aether, a ‘something else,’ is placed over the arrangement. It’s the viciousness, yes, but it’s also a tragic beauty, the kind of appreciation one could have for the irony of misfortune, or the madness in modernity. And while that’s largely in part due to the guitar work, it’s also thanks to the accompaniment of the rhythm section and the vocalist’s presence.
Without these ingredients, it’s another band lost in the noise, rather than becoming the focus of it. From Ashes Rise had it on tracks like “What The Good Book Says,” or on Discharge’s “Drunk With Power.” And I’m happy to say, it’s on this debut album by Armagideon Time.
Crime As Theatre is a crushing debut, wielding vitriol and outrage with expert care. The album itself summons up memories from the best moments of bands like the ones mentioned above, brought dripping and glistening from a vat of vileness, elevated by expertise, whether on mic, string, or skin. That’s high praise for an EP with less than 10 minutes on it, but I mean it when I say it: this is the next torchbearer of hardcore punk.
Editor’s Note: Like the rest of our site’s content, we began running this review on our usual social media streams (Twitter, Meta, Insta) but unlike the rest of our posts, this of all things has been taken down for “violating community guidelines,” citing things like “graphic violence,” “hate speech, harassment, and bullying,” and “nudity and sexual activity.” Yet our reviews for other bands with far more graphic violence depicted on the cover have all remained largely untouched, which means someone has perceived this artistic mirroring of the hideousness of racial persecution in America’s history as hate speech (it ain’t for nudity or sex, that’s got to be certain). Perhaps this touched a nerve with someone sympathetic to white nationalists. In any event, to any such person reporting these posts, we ask that you kindly go fuck yourself.
Crime As Theatre Track Listing:
1. Stimulus Fuck
2. For Lovers
3. Foxed In The Head
Run Time: 9:44
Release Date: May 6, 2022
Record Label: Anti-Corporate Music