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ARMAGEDDON

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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Armageddon was a self-described 'super-group' formed by 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). Armageddon formed in L.A. when Steamhammer broke up and moved to L.A. at the hehest of Relf with an eye to forming a new group. Armageddon came to life after enlisting Caldwell on drums and catching the attention of Peter Frampton who got Armageddon signed to his record label.

The group's promising future was side-tracked by Relf's bad health and drug problems and only performed live twice which didn't allow their self-titled album to gain traction despite positive reviews and exposure on FM radio. The group soon collapsed and Relf died several months later leaving only their self titled album as their only recorded output.

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3.28 | 47 ratings
Armageddon
1975

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ARMAGEDDON Reviews


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 Armageddon by ARMAGEDDON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.28 | 47 ratings

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Armageddon
Armageddon Heavy Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A veritable super-group made up of former members of the British blues-based acts Steamhammer and The Yardbirds, American heavy proggers Captain Beyond and classical folk-rock exponents Renaissance, Armageddon were one of those promising outfits whose line-up looked great on paper yet for various reasons failed to truly develop their exciting potential. Only one album was produced - 1975's self-titled 'Armageddon' - and the group split after less than a year thanks to a destructive cocktail of personal issues and disappointing sales.

An intriguing blend of bruising proto-metal riffs, progressive rock and heavy psychedelic blues, Armageddon was in some respects an album slightly ahead of it's time, prefiguring the 1980s rise of heavy metal whilst also stealing a march on the punk explosion that was just around the corner. Featuring Keith Relf(harmonica, vocals), Martin Pugh(guitar), Bobby Caldwell(drums) and Louis Cennamo(bass), this was a group very much in the mould of hard-rockin' mid-seventies acts such as Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep, Quatermass and Deep Purple, only this quartet placed more emphasis on creating ambitious, progressive-style song-suites, a stylistic streak showcased on an impressive debut album containing just five interlocking pieces. As a result, 'Armageddon' proves to be an occasionally rather frustrating listen, yet there are many rewards for those who take the time to explore what is essentially an epic re-branding of British prog-rock.

Recorded in L.A., this is a deceptively complex, multi-layered album that demands multiple listens - the typical musical onion if you will - though it is not without its longeurs. The album starts with the quickfire riffery of 'Buzzard', Martin Pugh and Bobby Caldwell feeding off each other in a dynamic guitars-and-drums duel, before making way for the delicate intro of the atmospheric 'Silver Tightrope'. A nicely melodic and surprisingly tender track, 'Silver Tightrope' features a slower pace that almost belongs to another album, Keith Relf's yearning vocals undercut by twinkling keyboards and a sky-searching Clapton-esque solo from Pugh. Rather perversely it seems(this is a heavy rock album after all) 'Silver Tightrope' proves to be arguably the strongest track on the album, though it does eventually burst into heavier life during its fiery closing stages. However, it's a stand-alone piece.

Both the brisk 'Paths & Plains & Future Gains' - the album's shortest piece at four-and-a-half minutes - and the following 'Last Stand Before' revert back to the original, fast-paced metallic blueprint, before the album's crowning achievement, the epic four-part closer 'Basking In The White Of The Eye', takes the album to a different level altogether. A highly-charged proto-metal workout featuring extraordinary drumming from Caldwell, this final piece injects a strong dose of rocked-up blues into the equation, gathering together elements from each of it's four predecessors for a spectacularly muscular - and strangely mystical - blast of early progressive metal.

A mixture of pioneering blues-based heavy rock, epic soloing, crushingly powerful rhythms and earthy psychedelia, 'Armageddon' is a genuinely innovative - and rather original - statement that probably proved a touch rich for the American mid-seventies audience it was supposedly aimed at. The album fared little better in Europe, though thankfully it has survived through the ages to find a new set of fans in the 21st century. Maybe some it's lengthy individual pieces simply take too long to reach their sonic destinations, yet for those who can take the pace 'Armageddon' should prove an exhilarating listen. A flawed musical mixture then, but a brave one with much to recommend it all the same. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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 Armageddon by ARMAGEDDON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.28 | 47 ratings

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Armageddon
Armageddon Heavy Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

2 stars 2.5 stars really!!

Among some of these short supergroups made from well-known veterans, this Armageddon group (not to be confused with the German band or the heavy metal from much later) is a very short-lived one, since they disbanded after the on-stage death of ex- Yardbirds and lead singer Keith Relf, but given the boringness of their sole album, they wouldn't have survived any longer anyway. Made from Yardbirds, Renaissance, Steamhammer, Captain Beyond and Johnny Winter group ex-member, you'd have expected much more from these guys, especially on the four-part "epic" Basking In The White Of The Midnight Sun. Coming with disputable War artwork, reminiscent of Warm Dust's album, this album was produced by relf himself (which hardly believable since his vocals are mostly drowned in the mix) and was on A&M in 75.

Part of this album's problem is Martin Pugh's mostly uninspired guitar playing, just reinforcing my opinion that Steamhammer's last two albums (where bassist Cennamo also played) were indeed poor. If Mountains was still correct, I always disliked the extremely sloppy Speech. Armageddon's album is more along the lines of the still- salvageable Mountains album. Actually the album starts at 100MPH with Buzzard, with an infectious guitar riff, but unfortunately repeated endlessly over the 8 minutes of the song. If Relf's vocals are buried in the mix, his harmonica solo towards the end is loud and clear. Starting much softer, Silver Tightrope, a boring and sloppily-written ballad, where Cennamo's bowed bass guitar gets some action, but will disappear as the track slowly builds up. Future games returns to an endlessly repeated guitar riff, even if this is the only shorter track of the album. Bad stuff as is Last Stand Before that opens the flipside, although there is an abrupt tempo change halfway through, but man is this heavy - in the clumsy and tiresome sense of the word, even though the second half is more interesting and might just be the album's high-water mark. The 11-mins+ epic mentioned above starts a bit in the same vein as its predecessor had ended: a prog intro before a 100 MPH guitar riff repeated endlessly covers Relf's vocals in the second section. The last two movements are more heavy guitars with harmonica responses, but although the group engages in more frequent tempo changes, it's become very tedious, despite some real heaviness.

Normally given the participants, this album should've been one of those hidden gems, but somehow, somewhere, things went terribly wrong. Armageddon's sole album is probably one of the neediest of a good remastering, and might even need a remix, and even then, that won't save it from getting a low rating. Best avoided, unless you're a fan of second- zone hard rock/heavy metal with slight prog touches.

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 Armageddon by ARMAGEDDON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.28 | 47 ratings

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Armageddon
Armageddon Heavy Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "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 bandīs music. Armageddonīs career were very shortlived though as Keith Relfīs 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 itīs 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". Donīt expect this to sound like Captain Beyond though as itīs just elements in the music I find that are similar. I donīt 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.

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 Armageddon by ARMAGEDDON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.28 | 47 ratings

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Armageddon
Armageddon Heavy Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars.This is one of those bands I honestly never heard of until recently. They referred to themselves as a "supergroup" as they were former members of such bands as STEAMHAMMER, RENAISSANCE, THE YARDBIRDS and CAPTAIN BEYOND. I read the names of the four band members but didn't know any of them. I really think this project was totally about making some money (nothing wrong with that) instead of out of love for the music.The band themselves never really gelled as some were into drugs and some weren't. Keith the singer was already busy planning a new group after the record was released. Unfortunately Keith was killed while playing an electric guitar in the bath tub.The band broke up shortly after that. This is an album I should love considering the heavy style plus that those great sounding drums and guitar, but it just doesn't click with me. The vocals are a little weak at times although Keith did have some serious health issues including breathing problems which may account for why they seem so low in the mix at times.

"Buzzard" is such a great opener with the relentless guitar and pounding drums. Vocals after 2 minutes. Scorching guitar 4 1/2 minutes in. "Silver Tightrope" is a long (8 1/2 min.) ballad although the guitar after 7 minutes is a nice touch. "Paths And Planes And Future Games" has a nice heavy sound to it as vocals join in.The guitar is all over this one.

"Last Stand Before" is a catchy track with some incredible drumming. Harmonica from Keith as well. Great tune. "Basking In The White Of The Midnight Sun" is where the vocals really seem distant. More excellent drumming and guitar. I like the way the harmonica and drums dominate 8 minutes in. Vocals return with the previous melody to end it.

I haven't given up on this one. I will continue to listen to see if my rating should stay where it is. Love the album cover on this one.

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 Armageddon by ARMAGEDDON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.28 | 47 ratings

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Armageddon
Armageddon Heavy Prog

Review by AmericanProgster

5 stars Armageddon should be one of the world wonders, honestly! Formed from members of Yardbirds, Steamhammer, Renaissance, and Captain Beyond, one could only expect a masterpiece and Armageddon exceeded that!

Buzzard - opens the album with a lot of wah wah and heavy guitar from Martin Pugh. Amazing drumming from one of prog's best drummers, Bobby Caldwell. The bass playing from Louis Cennamo is as powerful as Bobby's drumming. Hearing Keith Relf was surprise at first, considering I didn't even know it was him, he sounds so much more mature and powerful than he did with the Yardbirds.

Silver Tightrope - is a beautiful ballad. The song includes synthesized guitar and probably the most melodic singing Keith has ever done. Again bass and drums are superb, and to risk sounding redundant the same applies to every second of this album!

Paths And Planes And Future Gains - pretty much continues where Buzzard left off, in the sense that it picks up the heavy, wah wah guitar playing. Such amazing energy!

Last Stand Before - along with the epic Basking in the White of the Midnight Sun, is the heaviest song off this album. These guys are just wild.

Basking in the White of the Midnight Sun - is the closing number and what a way to end! From Paths and Planes and Future Gains & Last Stand Before, the heaviness is just unrelenting! This song is an epic in every sense of the word.

I recommend this not only to all Heavy Prog and Classic Metal fans, but also to people who need an album to make up for Captain Beyond's foray into jazz and departure from heavy prog. In my opinion this is one (if not THE) heaviest album ever recorded in the 70s. These guys could easily put Black Sabbath and Sir Lord Baltimore to shame!

5 Stars to a truly unique and unrelentingly heavy album!

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