Armed for Apocalypse are making their big return. It's been nine years since the California sludge-metal band released their last album, but on October 7th, they'll unveil their latest collection of groovy, decimating extremity, Ritual Violence (out via Candlelight Records).
Produced by Converge's Kurt Ballou and featuring guest spots from Sepultura's Andreas Kisser and Unearth'sTrevor Phipps, the record is a molten beast of heavy music, and many of the lyrics are centered on the idea of self-destruction — physical and emotional forms of ritual violence.
In honor of the record, we asked vocalist-guitarist Nate Burman and guitarist Cayle Hunter to pick what they think are the six most disturbing forms of ritualistic violence from throughout history, and explain what makes them each so morbidly interesting.
"It's important to note that when we view these forms of ritual violence through the lens of history they are clearly barbaric and nonsensical, " Hunter says. "As we learn more about our world, our own minds and emotions, and the universe we live in, the method of inflicting pain to solve problems seems misguided at best, sadistic at worst."
"That same lesson can be applied to our own struggles as individuals," he continues. "When we beat ourselves up in any number of ways for any number of reasons, it never truly solves anything. After finding the root cause and working to overcome it, we are left asking why we put ourselves through such unnecessary misery on the journey. Let's try not to do that to ourselves anymore, OK?"
The most creative and insane example of ritual violence I can think of comes from the ancient samurai in their attempt to try and control the thing that feels so out of control to all of us — how and when we die. Writing a death poem (so metal!), having a last meal, then gutting yourself with a blade while a friend stands by ready to decapitate you, all in an effort to die with "honor," is something most humans would never have the guts to attempt. Pun fully intended. - Cayle Hunter
Imagine how crazy it would sound if stoning were still around today? "Hi Jim and Nancy, it's me, your neighbor. Jane from down the street got caught cheating on her husband with another man (who is, of course, going to go about his life unpunished) so the whole neighborhood is going to get together and throw rocks at her until she dies. Pick you up around six?" Lunacy! - Nate Burman
The mental gymnastics that have taken place in the effort to properly interpret "God's will" are staggering, and have taken some mind boggling twists and turns along the way. None are more confusing than self-flagellation, the devotional practice of flogging oneself with whips or other instruments that inflict pain. How people went from, "the body is a temple," to, "beat the tar out of yourself to be closer to God," is curious to say the least. - Cayle Hunter
The pinnacle of all forms of ritual violence is human sacrifice, and oddly enough, it's the one I understand the most. It's long been said that if one wants something in life, success is not dependent on what you are willing to do, but what you are willing to sacrifice to get it. If the ancient Aztec culture believed the survival of their entire population was reliant on showing the deepest form of devotion, it's not a massive leap to see how they arrived at this grizzly conclusion.
That being said, I'm sure those who were sacrificed on the altar in hopes of rain for a plentiful harvest season would be bummed to learn that future generations would have a 10-day weather forecast available to them at the touch of a button. - Cayle Hunter
I picked this one because it is shockingly still legal and in practice in several countries throughout our world today. Offenses ranging from vandalism to underage drinking to theft can be met with the punishment of the offender being tied to a post or tree, stripped of their shirt, and hit with a cane a pre-determined number of times. I mean, the government could consider making vandals clean up vandalism around the city, or making a thief work until the value of what they stole is paid back to the victim, but then what would they do with all of those canes they bought in bulk? - Nate Burman
Corporal punishment in schools
My grandmother grew up going to a Catholic school being taught by nuns, and would regularly scold my mother for letting her children become too soft. She would regale us with tales of her knuckles being hit with a ruler, her mouth getting washed out with soap, and getting spanked with a paddle in front of the class for any number of "offenses." She said was deathly afraid of the nuns (who were supposedly literally married to God) and would sob uncontrollably as the punishment was being handed down.
The long-term emotional and psychological scars this left her with were obvious to me ev as a child, but she somehow touted them as some sort of badge of honor, as if her experiences were the only way to properly discipline children. Thankfully, my mother, along with the majority of the general public, disagreed and the practice is now banned. - Cayle Hunter