CTA makes A.V. Club’s Top 5 for December

Awesome mention in the A.V. Club this month:

http://www.avclub.com/articles/this-months-top-noisemakers-including-blockheads-y,90296/

Countdown To Armageddon, Through The Wires
One of the many great things about Killing Joke and Amebix is the way these two granddads of abrasive British filth have gotten more epic as the decades pass. Seattle’s Countdown To Armageddon reminds me of that same eroded, degraded angst. The trio’s latest full-length, Through The Wires, wraps spectral guitars around a terse, pulsing, post-punk rhythm section, then tops it with a crown of thorny blasphemy. Not to mention a bleakly melodic edge to offset its more scarifying, horrifying tendencies. Ethereal crust? Bring it the fuck on. – Jason Heller

Show review of our tour kick off gig by Ahistorical Revue

http://ahistoricalrevue.org/countdown-to-armageddonwounded-giantschool-shootings-performance-review/

. . . at The Kraken; University District, Seattle

September 15th, 2012

Review by Jim Walkley

Riding the bus to the U-District, staring out the window (a favorite pastime of moody bus riders everywhere), I predicted, “I’m going to be blown away by Countdown To Armageddon tonight.”  All signs pointed to a momentous Friday night: the final Seattle show for Countdown to Armageddon before a two-week tour of the East Coast and an extended tour of Europe.  In addition, it marked the release of Through The Wires, a new full-length by the band.

I arrived early at The Kraken … and had nothing to do.  I stepped outside and saw a man in a black T-shirt smoking a cigarette, so I stood next to him and chatted for awhile.  There’s a skeletal outline of an impressive, modern-looking building being constructed across the street from this humble pub/venue, and we both agreed that The Kraken will be getting noise complaints from whomever decides to live there.  “It looks like an office building,” he told me.  “Check out those high ceilings …”  I later learned that this new (and obviously pricey) structure will indeed be condominiums, all but ensuring our predicted noise complaints.

“I’m excited to see Countdown To Armageddon tonight,” I said to my new acquaintance in the black T-shirt.  He chuckled.  “So am I!  My band is playing here tonight, too.”

It turns out that he plays guitar in School Shootings, who opened this show with an interesting marriage of goth (particularly evident in the stick-figure black clothing of their frontwoman) and bare-bones punk that returned hardcore to a sort of primal, early-’80′s-in-L.A. base.  The crushingly loud, distorted guitar kept charging ahead as the singer added an emotional depth to the songs; the female bassist summoned the perfect accents to lift those four or five chords into post-punk, rather than a Black Flag retread.  School Shootings closed a fairly long set with that instantly recognizable Black Flag song (do you remember?): “I’m crazy and I’m hurt/Head on my shoulders …”  Yes, it was “Nervous Breakdown” — and it sounded great.

I’ve seen Wounded Giant once before at The Morgue in Georgetown.  I recalled them that night as a post-metal band who were not afraid of atmospherics, but subsumed by a “riff monster” songwriting style, ceaselessly spitting out meat-and-potatoes metal.  I suppose there’s more Black Tusk or even Mastodon (straight-ahead riffola) in Wounded Giant than there is, say, Neurosis — however, the penchant for both styles is definitely present.  For their show on this night, Wounded Giant’s guitarist/vocalist stripped down to only a jean jacket with no sleeves and a tight pair of jeans (riffola); but would often play extended instrumental passages that you certainly wouldn’t headbang to, leading to the conclusion that your appreciation of the band might depend on how many Strongbow Ciders you’ve imbibed.

Truth be told, there’s a large place in artistic metal for fist-in-the-air, thunderous music — and in fairness to Wounded Giant, perhaps the target for brute, bulldozing guitar and crashing drums isn’t an aging “music critic” (and, um … I’m busted on that count).  I suppose it’s most accurate to say that there are evenings when you want the satisfying bludgeon of something like, say, Seattle legends Tad; but then, conversely, there are evenings when you feel like taking an unchartered trip into the vast reaches of the universe.  Where does Wounded Giant fit within these two extremes?  If I’m being generous, I’d submit that they accomplish both — on their own terms, and with a refreshingly developed (and quite original) sound.  However, the “bludgeon” might not be wall-leveling enough, and the descent into dark space not anywhere near complete, to move them into the category of “must hear.”  Regardless, Wounded Giant were enjoyable and the audience liked them just fine.

My appreciation for Countdown To Armageddon didn’t begin until I saw them live at The Highline with Antisect earlier in 2012.  Countdown To Armageddon ruled that night — melodic, emotion-laden, post-crust bass lines (comparable to a band such as Deskonocidos) with the fiery — yet emotional — crust of early From Ashes Rise.  In fact, I liked it so much that I sought out bassist Dav Tafoya at that Antisect show and told him that I couldn’t wait to see them again.  When they played The Morgue (on my birthday), I had to skip it due to work early the next morning. With nothing to bother me on the Saturday morning following this show at The Kraken (except some idiot doing yard work next door – which I was banking on sleeping through), it was finally time to see them play again . . .

Dav Tafoya of Countdown to Armageddon; live at The Kraken. Photo by Jim Walkley

Countdown To Armageddon took the stage and promptly fell into all sorts of microphone trouble with bassist Dav’s set-up, so their soundcheck was a good ten minutes longer than the other bands.  Once that problem was sorted out, and someone from The Kraken had been assigned to monitor the meager “soundboard”, the band kicked into a full set of their new album, Through The Wires, with a couple older songs thrown in for good measure.  This new recording has been released on a CD that includes songs from their previous LP, Eater Of Worlds, and opens with the gloomy, haunting “In The Unknown” – which sounded amazing at The Kraken.  Another strong track from Through The Wires is “Ex/Communication”, which has more of a call-and-response, or “chorus”, chant to it and is the kind of song that will get even the most reluctant show-goer up and dancing.  There are elements of goth and post-punk in the Countdown To Armageddon sound, but there’s also a sort of caustic crust, a “true punk core” that saves the band from arty pretension.  Think about that for a moment … Countdown To Armageddon embody the anthemic melodies of post-punk, the fog-on-the-moor gloominess of goth, as well as the bulldozing power of modern American hardcore!?  It’s the perfect combination for someone (uh, me) who has grown tired of bands who don’t experiment with bold swatches of several genres.  Experimentation is the death of punk, you say?  I’d say the greatest opponent to punk thriving is boredom!  With a sound this tense, dark, and moving, Countdown To Armageddon are never boring.

When Countdown To Armageddon come back from their European tour in November, an LP version of Through The Wires should be available from Skuld Releases.  Appropriately, Skuld put out some of those classic (and controversial) early From Ashes Rise recordings.  Controversial, that is, because some deemed From Ashes Rise to be progenitors of “emo-crust”; think whatever you like, but I always enjoyed Portland-based From Ashes Rise, and I think their early LPs were phenomenal.  Countdown To Armageddon seem to branch off from that template, keeping the emotion as well as the crusty power, but adding a great deal more musical nuance and artistic depth.

Until you can lay your hands on the LP (I think it’ll be worth it), spend a few bucks and buy the new Countdown To Armageddon CD.  It’s on Aborted Society Records, a Seattle label co-run by the aforementioned Rob Hanna.  It’s a top-notch label, and Countdown To Armageddon are one of its premier bands.