The constantly engaged metal-drumming madman gets conned into recording one of the year’s most brutally raw albums— with a few surprises.
On April 27 the Detroit-based hardcore/experimental band the Armed released Only Love, the group’s second full-length since its inception in 2009. For the new effort, the Armed recruited metal-drumming vet Ben Koller [Converge, Mutoid Man, Killer be Killed, All Pigs Must Die] to handle the album’s ruthless parts. After Only Love’s split-second synth intro, Koller and the band launch into a distorted barrage that endures throughout the record’s eleven tracks. On the effort, the group coaxes a chainsaw-like cacophony through time shifts, melodic breaks, and well-tempted resolutions—all with a clever grace.
Koller explains to MD that some surprising circumstances led to his involvement on the Armed’s newest release. “Kurt Ballou [Converge guitarist, owner of GodCity studio, and Only Love’s producer] had known the Armed for a while,” explains Koller, “since he’d recorded a previous album of theirs. I was sort of familiar with them and knew they were mysterious and total weirdos, which is right up my alley. Kurt informed me that they were doing a new record and that they’d love me to track drums for it if I had time. I was skeptical at first—it was short notice, and the recording would take place right in the middle of tracking drums for a new Converge album, which seemed [like it would be] pretty stressful. The selling point for me was that at one point I’d heard that Rob Trujillo from Metallica would be playing bass. This seemed weird and farfetched, but I believed it since another friend of mine had jammed with him for a project recently.
“It turns out,” Koller continues, “Rob was never involved in any capacity. When I showed up for the session asking, ‘Where’s Rob?’ Kurt looked at me like I was crazy. Also, the Armed had sent Kurt demos for the record and made him tell me they were Converge songs so that I’d start learning them. So essentially, I was conned into playing on this album. I was so taken aback by these weird tactics that I just went with it.”