Bands to Watch 2009

The Crimson Armada

  • Will Shilling photo
From the The Crimson Armada edition

Never in a million years would The Crimson Armada have thought to shop their demo to Metal Blade Records. They might dream about the thrill of signing with such a storied home of heavy music, but they figured it a fool's errand to give it much thought.

Somehow, impossibly, Metal Blade came to them.

The MySpace message from label executive Michael Faley was simple and brief: Hey, I like the message you guys are sending, and I'd like to talk more.

"At first when we saw it, we thought it was one of our friends playing a really, really sick joke," singer Saud Ahmed said. "I was like, 'This can't be real.'"

After e-mailing Faley, talking to him on the phone and then checking his number on YellowBook.com, they began to believe. Final proof came on Aug. 20, when the label of As I Lay Dying and Cannibal Corpse announced a worldwide record deal with five North Side kids who, not long ago, traveled to Pennsylvania to play for six people in the basement of a Chinese restaurant with no lights.

None of them can drink legally.

As most stories of unbelievable success do, this one's moving quickly for Ahmed, bassist Chris Yates, drummer David Puckett and guitarists Dan Hatfield and Josh Jardim. Debut disc Guardians has been recorded and will be released in the spring, when the band hopes to begin touring.

A mix of five songs from a previous EP and a handful of new tracks, it's sure to hone the band's crushing thrash - a thunderous mix of AFI, early Metallica and Slayer. In The Crimson Armada, there are guttural snarls, infinite riffs and absolutely no letup.

"If people want to find a message in our music, they can," Yates said of the band's lyrics, which touch on spirituality and faith. "If they just want to bang their head and put up the horns, then they can just listen to the fast riffs."