Released: 2016, Saarni Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
After a nearly a decade of only demos – a good half-dozen of them – Finland's Re-Armed seem to be making up for lost time. The Era of Precarity is the band's third full-length in four years, and their most ambitious, fully realized work to date.
Billed as a dystopian concept album, its curious title certainly hints at that. Precarity, a term born of French intellectuals to describe “a generalized state of insecurity, cutting across traditional social status traditions,” has gained more traction of late as the debate over globalization, immigration and the growing chasm between the “haves” and “have nots” rages.
The story here plays itself out via evocative numbers like “Lullaby of Obedience,” “Ivory Towers,” “Years of Decay” and “Purification,” even getting a bit “Sixties radical” on “Evolve Cycle” with its “turn on, tune in, drop out” mantra. Oddly enough, Precarity's “hippiest” sentiment follows on the heels of its most ferocious moment – quite literally, it's only 1:13 long - the near-grindcore flamethrower “Three Headed Beast.”
Yet the album is crafted in such a way that its conceptualizing isn't instantly recognizable from a musical standpoint. There is an intro, “Novus Ordo Seclorum,” but no real segues, interludes or obvious compositional connectivity. And while there is a modicum of orchestration/keyboards and unusual instrumentation – like the banjo on “Through The Barricades” - the album jumps around between various shades of metal seemingly willy-nilly.
The bludgeoning “Purification” is damn near full-on hardcore. The apocalyptic closer “The Hunt Is On” is tech-death meets power metal meets djent. “Lullaby Of Obedience” is In Flames-like anthemic melodic death metal while “Riot Act” and “Years of Decay” echo Lamb of God with their muted spoken lines and snub-nosed chug – as does “The Aftermath,” sans the hushed voice.
This certainly helps the band deliver what would seem to be a pretty heavy-handed message in such a way that doesn't necessarily feel heavy handed – or pompous, as is the case with so many concept albums. Occasionally, frontman Jouni Matilainen will offer a more obvious slogan, as “are you dead or alive?” from “Ivory Towers” or the chanted “our freedom ends. Taken!” from “Cursed Beyond Belief.” But for the most part, the band seem content to let the music speak loudest, and in this case that’s a pretty sound strategy.