Arma Secreta / Army Secreta

A Century Remains

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When punk and its quickly birthed offspring post-punk exploded across the music scene, it initially appeared to be without antecedents. No past, no future, that was punk's claim to fame; music for the moment, for tomorrow we all may die. Obviously, the arrival of post-punk put paid to the second half of that equation, but it's only been with hindsight that the falsehood of the former has slowly been exposed. Arma Secreta never set out to help topple punk's foundation myth, but with their debut album, A Century Remains, they've done so nonetheless. With their rock leanings, occasional punk bends, and multiplicity of post-punk influences, Arma make a nonsense of the lines drawn in the sand back in 1976. For starters, for all their big sound, the unit itself is a mere duo who sound like a five-piece band, because between Christopher Wark and Bradley Bean, the two multi-instrumentalists are. That's notable in itself, but it's the music that truly impresses. From the rock world they take the thunder, crafting a huge, bottom heavy sound that send the speakers shaking, emphasized by the predominant basslines and stop-start rhythms so beloved by the post-punks. Their gloamy atmospheres are a toss-up, it too was a signature of the post-punks, but was equally important to the likes of Black Sabbath and many of the other early metal bands. The buzzsaw guitars come courtesy of Siouxsie & the Banshees, borrowed of course from the Velvet Underground, the more delicate leads from both new wave and rock, while their chiming harmonies tip a hat to the more modern melodic punk scene. Numbers like "Salon Song" almost defy description, the Jam played by Gang of Four, the Sisters of Mercy meet the Banshees, hardcore meets nucore? At some point, each of those apply. "Segue/Debris" smashes hard rock into hardcore, before suddenly upending into a delicate interlude of keyboard and guitar. "Sweater Weather" best captures their strong melodies, "Turin Style" their devastating anthemic choruses.

Every song has its own unexpected revelations, with the lyrics and themes as eclectic as the music itself. A splendid set, and a fabulous debut.

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