If the Middle-Eastern metal scene had its own Avengers team, then Coat of Arms would most definitely be Iron Man (that’d probably make Svengali, The Hulk and Benevolent would be Thor…but I digress). Everything about these guys is calm, calculated and packs once hell of a punch when it finally arrives. The band’s latest work does something a little differently, as the band take heed from 2011’s “This is Manslaughter”, put it in a ring with 2013’s “Sun & Satellites” and have had them duke it out like Scorpion and Sub-Zero until an inevitable gory-splatter left on the arena floor is produced…in the form of new opus “A Shade of Red.”
Lead single “Silence the Sensor” opens with what I can only describe as an Internet dial-up tone, before launching into a riff that’s sure to have more heads bobbing than a 50 Cent music video. Lyrically, this sets a brilliantly aggressive tone for the rest of the record, with frontman (and all-round good guy) Mohammad Bailouni bellowing “WE ALL NEED THAT MOTHERFUCKING UPDATE!” with about as much composure as Corey Taylor. “Ethereal” dials down the speed and amps up the groove, sounding like Perpihery going Super-Saiyan, whilst “Krypton” (yours truly’s current favourite) provides an instance of calm amongst the apparent onslaught. It is here that bassist Liam Ruddell makes Glenn Fricker’s statement “your bass player is a useless cunt” null and void, as his dulcet tones beef out the song like The Rock on leg day. This accompanied by Bailouni’s one-way ticket into clean vocals territory, serves up one sleeping giant of a song.
“Trade Lie Census” brings back the signature COA groove that we heard on “Sun & Satellites”, whilst “Shelter” takes advantage of some atmospheric keyboards and and ambient lead guitar work to contrast an awesome background churn, allowing Bailouni and co-string slinger Amir Amiro to display their awesome teamwork. Topped off by some incredible clean vocals, this song is a brilliant display of musical maturity (as well as Bailouni’s vocal range, hot-damn that guy can riff!).
“Mirrors” is very reminiscent of old show-closer “Timepieces” (“This is Manslaughter, 2011) after a period of hibernation, emerging with a giant beard and a massive axe and…whoops sorry, got a bit carried away there. This is an old-school jam on a new-school record, and it sure as hell fits. “The Hunt” and “Never Been Clear” round off the record brilliantly, bringing both a flippant sense of brutality (namely at the hands of drummer Kareem K) and an ambient heaviness that Coat of Arms have become adept at. A string send-off followed by an epic breakdown plants a very apparent statement by a band that have been on the cusp of a global takeover for a while now.
I said this about “Sun & Sattelites” (back when I wrote for Metality.net) but “A Shade of Red” is probably most easily described as the Middle-Eastern metal scene’s Iron Man throwing his fist to the floor and staking his claim over his surroundings. This record has not only added to some of the best metal that I’ve listened to in months, but has reassured me (alongside Svengali’s “Theory of Mind”) that metal is alive and well in back home in the Middle-East. “A Shade of Red” accompanied by the band’s upcoming international appearances, including gigs in Portugal and Sri Lanka, is sure to take them to a soaring new height and finally gain them the global recognition that they deserve.
I’m giving “A Shade of Red” a rating of:
“A Shade of Red” – 8.5/10
“A Shade of Red” is out April 20th on iTunes, Spotify and the Coat of Arms Bandcamp page.