I’ve been a fan of melodic hardcore for over a decade, but in recent years I’ve found a lot of the newer bands to be fairly hit or miss. Perhaps it’s just a sign of getting older, especially when this is a genre that can be dominated by younger bands, but to me melodic hardcore is at its best when it gets down to the rawest of emotions and pumps out heartfelt material that any age can relate to. This is where British band Armed with Books caught my attention. Their newest release ‘Honestly, Honesty’ originally came out in April digitally, with Grandad Records preparing a vinyl release for August 5th. Comprised of five songs that move between somber, heartfelt melodies and intense bursts of hardcore energy, Armed with Books delivers their material in a way that feels genuine and is sure to keep listeners coming back. To tie in to the upcoming vinyl release, today we’re premiering the second song Fraying.
Fraying is one of the songs that showcase the best of Armed with Books’ melodic elements. While the rest of ‘Honestly, Honesty’ throws in some blasts of aggression and raw intensity a little more frequently, this particular track is all about the buildup. Spread across four and a half minutes, the instrumentation builds slowly, letting methodical drums and soft guitar melodies expand in layers. It’s the type of somber instrumentation that I love in melodic hardcore, and it draws you in to each and every note. Around three quarters of the way in the instrumentation suddenly picks up considerably, reaching a crashing climax where the distorted guitars and drums work in tandem to deliver that blast of emotion and harsher intensity. It only lasts for a brief moment before the band returns to their softer melodies, but it makes one hell of an impact. The most obvious comparison would be Touché Amoré, as that band’s built their career off a similar type of emotional melodies that lead into booming climaxes. But more so than some of the others, Armed with Books reminds me of the mellower moments that classic screamo bands like Orchid and Funeral Diner were able to channel and that’s a major part of what made them appealing for me.
As the guitars weave softer melodies around your ears, the vocals keep things firmly on the rawer side of the spectrum. Coming in as a muffled scream that sometimes sounds like it’s just barely breaking free of the instrumentals, you can hear the emotion and tension in every word and it only gains steam as the song progresses. It’s this type of performance that makes a genre like melodic hardcore so easy for listeners to connect to, and in this regard Armed with Books absolutely nails it. So many bands put their vocalists up front, letting them scream their heads off with the instrumentation coming in as a secondary element, but here the two work equally in tandem to create a compellingly raw listening experience.
Armed with Books has been around for close to four years now, and it’s clear they’ve used this time to grow as songwriters and craft some of their most nuanced material to date. If you want a copy of ‘Honestly, Honesty’ you’ll want to act fast, as Grandad Records’ pressing is limited to 250 copies.