RETRO TUESDAYS: Armoured Angel – Communion [Demo] (1990)

Even the most persistent kings of underground heavy metal rarely carry the torch as long as Canberra, Australia musician Glen Luck who formed Armoured Angel in 1982 but wouldn’t fully staff his project until 1984 when rehearsals lead to the Mercyful Fate-meets-NWOBHM demo ‘Baptism in Blood’ (1985). You can hear echoes of Iron Maiden, Tank, and the sort of hard rock Australia was known for in the Mark I incarnation of the band. With a taste for blasphemic art and the worldwide spread of speed metal creating the necessity for adrenaline-fueled attacks, Armoured Angel quickly took hints from the Bay Area mania caused by Slayer, Possessed and Metallica among others. The Mark II line-up again featured Luck but was a trio post-’87 and included Joel Green on drums/vocals with Matt Green on guitars. This triad is widely considered the ‘classic’ Armoured Angel line-up, and they thrashed like hell.

‘Wings of Death’ (1989) was the first proof of this new line-up’s power and it came in waves of brutal mid-paced thrash that verged on death metal along the lines of Infernäl Mäjesty but with a menacing uptempo groove that never colored far outside the lines of mid-80’s thrash. Australia’s first extreme metal band only upped their game from here on their third demo ‘Castration’ (1990) with a more aggressive iteration of their sound on ‘Wings of Death’ that focused on what would become Armoured Angel‘s most notable trait: The riffs. When I first listened to ‘Communion’ it had the scent of Sabbat all over it but what really makes the demo special is the incorporation of late 80’s death/thrash style with guitar work inspired by that era’s releases from Amebix, Running Wild, but without losing sight of the upcoming storms from Sepultura, Slayer, and their ilk. Some of this could be said for ‘Wings of Death’ but there is greater urgency and intricacy to be found within the thrashing rhythms of ‘Communion’.

Armoured Angel were pioneers in the Australian extreme metal landscape alongside (Sadistik Exekution and Slaughter Lord) and you can still hear echoes of their body of work influencing countless projects today be it Hellripper or Deströyer 666. Taken out of context and just as an early 90’s brutal thrash demo ‘Communion’ still holds up as a ripping example of the timeless appeal that thrash guitar riffs carry regardless of era, trend, or sonic fidelity. Following a similar, but far more extreme, lifespan as US metal band Hexx their trajectory had gone from traditional metal to thrash metal and as they achieved death/thrash they’d quickly evolve once again towards the extreme. I’d also highly recommend checking out their death metal EPs and sole full-length as they had plenty more riffs to churn out throughout the 90’s until dissolving in 2001.

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Artist Armoured Angel
Type EP
Released 1990 [Cassette] | 2016 [12″ Vinyl]
BUY/LISTEN on Hell’s Headbangers Records’ Bandcamp! Armoured Angel on Metal-Archives
Genre Thrash Metal,
Death Metal

Of life beyond the tomb. 4.0/5.0

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