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ARMAGEDDON - The Money Mask (Vinyl)

From The Vault Vinyl Series #2

The From The Vault Vinyl Series (Retroactive Records) continues in 2018 with some great new releases this month – one classic oldie never before released on vinyl –The Money Mask (1989) – and then the more recently released Bride – Tsar Bomba (2009) which will be given similar treatment on vinyl (review forthcoming). For those not familiar with this series, it is comparable to the Roxx Underground Series, which features a “limited edition” type fold-over sleeve rather than a full jacket sleeve (pictured below), in a re-sealable polybag – the same as those used with the recent Mortal vinyl reissues. The sleeve is a thicker material than the usual lyric sheet stock, and contains the lyrics on the inside with credits. The cover has been re-worked (as pictured) with white boarders on the band logo and some color differences on the skull. It is great to have nicely legible lyrics as well. The disc itself (black) is the non-heavyweight variety so keep that in mind when considering storage. My copy was flat, though, with no dishing/warping.

Let’s face it, this kind of metal was made for vinyl/analog! Although Armageddon didn’t bring anything highly original or cutting-edge to the burgeoning Christian metal scene (circa late 80’s), they did have a great singer in Mike Vance and a very credible classic metal (Saint meets Judas Priest) sound with some inspiring guitar shred. With The Money Mask they managed to put together a really solid collection of mid-tempo rockers. Along with the scathing title track, “Mercenaries Of Injustice” and “More Than Conquerors” have a metal sound that is timeless, featuring buzzing guitars and catchy, shout-along, chant-like choruses. For me, as good as those opening salvos are, the latter part of the album was even better. “The Ship Of Changes” closes out the first side on a lighter, acoustic side, but the ballad has some seriously beautiful metaphorical lyrics. Side B features my two favorite Armageddon songs, “Blazing Wasteland” (great lyrics) and the crunchy Priest influenced “Nightlight.” Things slow up a bit with the heart-felt “Giving It To You,” and then the record closes out with “The Judge” and the speedy “We’re Outa’ Here.”

As I stated above, this album is well-suited for vinyl treatment. I’ve spun both sides about 6 times now and rate this pretty high marks for the sound quality. There is plenty of low-end power/bass that comes through in this format. I always thought the original recording (on Talkingtown) was a bit flat, but there is a robust crunch and clarity coming through the speakers on this version with plenty of vocal clarity. While distinctively 80’s in style, The Money Mask doesn’t sound like dated material and retains a nice classic quality, now enjoying the upgraded clarity of contemporary mastering and vinyl pressing. The surface noise is minimal (this is a pretty loud recording after all), but is noticeable between tracks and at the beginning of “The Ship Of Changes.”

This is my first review of this particular vinyl series and I am impressed so far, but am a bit concerned that these thin polybags won’t hold up well over time as they can tear easily. The only real negative, though, is that there are only 150 copies worldwide so if you want this you had better act quickly before they are gone.

Track Listing:

Side A

1. The Money Mask

2. Mercenaries of Injustice

3. More Than Conquerors

4. Looking Out For You

5. The Ship of Changes

Side B

1. (Liberation From) Blazing Wasteland

2. Nightlight

3. Giving It To You

4. The Judge

5. We’re Outa, Here

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