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EP Premiere: "The Winds" by Arms & Armour

15 September 2023

After a swirl of samples from what sounds like 1920s radio and even an appearance by Ebenezer Scrooge, Arms & Armour’s opening track ‘Haunted’ cuts through any murkiness with intensity: “A howling sound out your window that night / Like the howl of the dogs / Smell of blood in the moonlight.” Singer/guitarist Lauren Voss’ dark and foreboding lyrics only underscore the deep-in-the-forest sounds found on the band’s fifth release, The Winds. One could argue that Arms & Armour, hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, and recording in an old drill bit factory, are an industrial band. But to limit the band to that descriptor would be unfair, as there are more moments of ephemeral joy and wanderlust in this EP than industrial noise. Think witches dancing in a forest of rusted drill bits, if that makes any sense.

Beginning as a drum and guitar band more than a decade ago, the band evolved its sound toward electronic and, arguably, industrial. Recent covers of Sarah McLachlan’s ‘Possession’ and AC/DC’s ‘Can I Sit Next To You, Girl?’ suggest a duo that enjoys some irony in their music, as each cover is stretched through sludgy tempos and doom-like growls to create more winks and nods than one expects of an electronic band. But it’s in this new EP of originals that the band seems to arrive at a sound that gives the most space to Voss’ angelic vocals, Panza’s raw, sample-driven beats, and the pair’s cacophony of synths and guitar. Panza moonlights as drummer in doom band Hiram-Maxim, so think of his beats as evolving from Godflesh or even, in a lesser sense, Phantogram. Voss plays guitar and synth at the same time, and the tunes therefore have a minimalism reminding one of gggolddd or Chelsea Wolfe or even early PJ Harvey.

Recorded and mixed entirely in their Cleveland-based studio Dark Current and mastered by Mario McNulty (David Bowie), the duo’s approach in The Winds is to convey to a listener the full scope of their song design, offering a gentle hand leading the listener into the dark, drill-bit forests of Arms & Armour’s mind.

Arms & Armour’s The Winds will be released on September 15 on Kramies Windt’s VanGerrett Records.