I need to get something off my chest: it bothers me that we may never know who (if anyone) comprise The Armed. It's entirely possible that the whole thing is a Kurt Ballou stunt. And any time someone who seems more definitely "in" the band talks about what they do, it comes across as somewhat bullshitty. So, I'm forced to forget what I think I know about The Armed, what they did before or since, and instead evaluate Untitled without any context. And you know what? It still utterly owns. Also, while I'm being transparent: I'm a total sucker for Slugdge's intergalactic slugs theme. But even beyond that, the band are all about technical death metal that is epic, frenzied, and deeply satisfying.
While the scorecard predicts a nearly dead heat (with The Armed leading in emotion and replayability, yet Slugdge dominating in shredding and production), two other factors tilt the match toward Slugdge. First, while both albums have pacing issues, The Armed's is generally an issue of granularity: with rare exception, each track is unwavering in its monochromaticism, so the album can come across as 14 motifs committed three minutes at a time. Second: while what The Armed do en masse is ambitious, the actual riffs are fairly derivative. Expertly handled, but oh so familiar.
I'm just as surprised as anyone to discover that Slugdge win against The Armed! Let's see how these slugs fare against The Human Abstract in three weeks.
We will end this, the first week of Arsies competition, with a truly unusual contest: for the second time in recent memory, TesseracT challenge The Dillinger Escape Plan. If you're wondering about the first challenge, I'll explain more tomorrow.