ARMAGEDDON
Proto-Metal • United Kingdom

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Armageddon was a hard rock band formed in 1974 - their self-titled debut, Armageddon, was recorded in England and released in the United States on A&M Records.

Not to be confused with Armageddon, the Krautrock band who formed and released an album in 1970, the French Black Metal band.

The albums' original liner notes use the term "supergroup", as their personnel were drummer Bobby Caldwell (previously a member of Captain Beyond), singer Keith Relf (who had fronted the enormously influential Yardbirds as well as having been a co-founder of Renaissance), guitarist Martin Pugh (from Steamhammer), and bassist Louis Cennamo (also formerly of Renaissance and Steamhammer).

Keith Relf had helped on the final Steamhammer LP, "Speech," in 1972. That band's dissolution came soon after the album release following the death of drummer Michael Bradley. The remaining Steamhammer alumni Pugh and Cennamo shared a flat and were asked by Keith Relf to move to
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.. Album Cover 3.52 | 9 ratings
Armageddon
Proto-Metal 1975

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ARMAGEDDON Armageddon

Album · 1975 · Proto-Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
voila_la_scorie
I was glad to find this album available on CD because I had been a fan of The Yardbirds since my high school days and I knew of Keith Relf's involvement with Armageddon. What I didn't know was that former Captain Beyond drummer Bobby Caldwell was also on this album. So that was a thrill to discover since I loved his work on the Captain's debut album.

As the story goes, Keith Relf left The Yardbirds along with Jim McCarty because they wanted to get away from the heavy direction Jimmy Page was taking the band and Relf was interested in doing more acoustic-centred work. He formed the original version of Renaissance with McCarty but after two albums he left and went on to produce for a few bands. One of his last productions was an album for Steamhammer and along with two of the members of that band, Relf left for California. There the three found Bobby Caldwell who had played in Captain Beyond alongside Iron Butterfly alumni Lee Dorman and Larry Reinhardt and Deep Purple MK I vocalist Rod Evans. They formed Armageddon and recorded this one-time album.

"Armageddon" is listed as both hard rock and progressive rock, though I believe the hard rock sound is more obvious. The fact that four of the five songs are over 8 minutes long would suggest a prog act and it's true that the longer songs wander outside the standard rock song format, but much of the length is taken up by jam sessions and extended guitar solos.

This album is mostly a hard rock affair with some great riffs, excellent guitar solos and Caldwell's phenomenal drumming. I do find the songs less engaging than Captain Beyond, however. Maybe that's because the Captain's debut was mostly short and blistering rockers and avoided long instrumental solo sections. Only "Silver Tightrope" steers clear of the hard rocking groove the band have going for most of the album. It is slightly reminiscent of Led Zeppelin's "The Rain Song" but for me it's much less enjoyable because "The Rain Song" builds and progresses while this song just maintains the same slow flow. The gentle electric guitar riffs seem to go on for a couple of minutes more than necessary.

The other four tracks "Buzzard", "Paths and Planes and Future Gains" (two very awesome guitar riffs here), "Last Stand Before", and the four-part "Basking in the White of the Midnight Sun" are focused on hard rocking guitar music which to my ears sounds, very generally speaking, similar to Led Zeppelin's "Presence" album, particularly the song "Nobody's Fault but Mine". The music has that funky blues sound and the guitar sound similar as well. Real gritty distortion is only used between the 8:30 and 9:30 minute mark of "Basking...", at the end of part c) "Brother Ego".

As Relf played harmonica with The Yardbirds, it's not surprise to hear a little bit of mouth harp here as well. It fits in with the music well enough. The weakest point, I am afraid to say, is Keith Relf's vocals. It's not that his singing is particularly bad (except at the opening of "Silver Tightrope") but it doesn't have the power required for the music. Furthermore, I find his vocals a bit lost in the mix, meaning that the music seems louder than his voice. There is, however, one point that I am not clear on and that is who is doing the vocals at the beginning of "Buzzard". It sounds like someone is trying to imitate a young Lemmy Kilmister. When I first heard this I couldn't imagine that this was Keith Relf singing and I still can't as the rest of the album is sung in his recognizable voice.

It's unfortunate that Armageddon collapsed soon after the album was released but more so is the tragedy that Keith Relf died by electrocution soon after returning to the UK. I wonder if he would have taken part in The Yardbirds reunion that occurred with Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja in the 1990's or if he would have been part of the Box of Frogs project in the 1980's with McCarty, Dreja, and Yardbird's bassist Paul Samwell-Smith?

So here it is anyway. Armageddon's one album. Quite a good listen for many reasons and almost worth three and a half stars in my opinion. But I don't take this album out to listen to so much now that I am familiar with it.

ARMAGEDDON Armageddon

Album · 1975 · Proto-Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"Armageddon" is the debut and sole full-length studio album by British/American hard rock act Armageddon. The album was released through A&M Records in May 1975. Armageddon were a kind of supergroup which consisted of Keith Relf on lead vocals, Harp and Harmonica (Yardbirds, Renaissance), Martin Pugh on electric and acoustic guitars (Steamhammer), Bobby Caldwell on drums, vocals, piano and percussion (Captain Beyond, Johnny Winter) and Louis Cennamo on Bass ( Renaissance, Steamhammer). Armageddon were brought to A&M records attention by Peter Frampton who was impressed by the band´s music. Armageddon´s career were very shortlived though as Keith Relf´s bad health and the drug abuse among some members of the group made it impossible for them to tour in support of the album (they actually only performed two shows in their lifetime) and even though the album was generally well received by fans and critics alike, Armageddon disbanded shortly after it´s release. Keith Relf returned to England and began a reunitement project of the original Renaissance called Illusion. He sadly died after being electrocuted while playing guitar in his basement/recording studio (and not in the bathtub as many sources claim). The guitar was not properly earthed. He died before recording any material for his new group (with the exception of "All the Falling Angels" which is featured on "Enchanted Carees (1990)" by Illusion. The other members of Armageddon went on to other projects.

The music on "Armageddon" is guitar driven hard rock. The tracks are generally pretty long which provides guitarist Martin Pugh a lot of room to show off his skills. The rhythm section is pretty fantastic too and I have to give a special mention to former Captain Beyond drummer Bobby Caldwell. His performance on this album is outstanding. The music style from the debut album by Captain Beyond comes to mind a couple of times during the playing time of "Armageddon". Don´t expect this to sound like Captain Beyond though as it´s just elements in the music I find that are similar. I don´t find the music on "Armageddon" to be as accomplished as the music on "Captain Beyond (1972)" either. This is mostly due to the vocal lines/melodies and the vocal delivery by Keith Relf which I honestly find a bit weak. The rest of the music is great even though some parts drag on a bit too long (the riff in "Silver Tightrope" just seems to go on and on and on).

The sound production is professional, organic, and suits the music well and all in all "Armageddon" is a solid guitar driven hard rock album with a lot of positive qualities. The vocals do drag my rating down a bit though and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is warranted.

ARMAGEDDON Armageddon

Album · 1975 · Proto-Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
cannon
The ground work for Armageddon's s/t debut from 1975 was already somewhat laid out with Steamhammer's Speech(1972) as the band was left as a power trio with Martin Pugh on guitar, Louis Cennamo on bass and the late, great Mickey Bradley on drums from the Mk.II Steamhammer. Steamhammer's first three albums were in the vein of progressive blues rock but Speech took took a 90 degree turn just before hitting the sun's photosphere melting experimental/hard rock/prog into exploring the new frontiers of far away galaxies. This is where Cennamo introduced the bow to the bass. This album seems to have found a black hole and is basically lost in the proto-metal realm.

Forming from a sun's solar storm a few later Armageddon's s/t debut(1975) is casted in plasma with turbulent and dynamic forces. Joining from the interplanetary magnetic field Keith Relf(Yardbirds, Renaisance) and drummer Bobby Caldwell(Johnny Winter, Captain Beyond) find Martin Pugh and Louis Cennamo from another solar cycle.

Pugh's guitar work is radiant with scorching chords, riveting riffs and manic solos to floating acoustic passages. Keith Relf's vocals never sounded better but it is his harmonica interludes with Pugh's guitar that are stellar and even taking it solo to take some of wieght off Pugh's shoulders.

Matching Pugh at warp speed is drummer Bobby Caldwell. Caldwell takes it to another light speed from his fantastic show on Captain Beyond's s/t debut and on par with Mickey Bradley's technical drumming.

The album opens up with a proto-metal classic "Buzzard", ripping flesh from bone to the soaring "Silver Tightrope", a break from the relentess onslaught but comes back with Pugh's "Paths and Planes and Future Gains", reminescent more of Steamhammer blues formula. Relf's harmonica duelling with Pugh's guitar is smashing in the "Last Stand Before". The epic four part suite "Basking In The White Of The Midnight Sun" puts in motion all the interstellar sub-genres related to proto-metal in a celestial sphere.

Armageddon was one of the few pieces of vinyl from the proto-metal sub-genre that did stay in print for a relative period of time and was easy to acquire even after it was deleted by A&M. After acquiring the Black Sabbath catalogue 25+ years ago Armageddon was the next LP I had picked up and shortly after Steamhammer's Speech which was available as a German import on the Brain label which opened the flood gates to my relentless pursuit of these obsure/rare albums of proto-metal/heavy psych/hard rock artists.

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