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|Origin||The Great Beyond|
|Years Active|| 1976-1978|
|Label(s)|| Happy Puppy Records|
World's End Records
|Current Members|| Keith Relf|
|Past Members|| Jane Relf|
- You may be looking for Armageddon and not even know it!
“If one plays good music, people don't listen, and if one plays bad music he's probably in Armageddon.”
Since their inception, Armageddon has enjoyed a long history, beginning with their pre-album period, during which they toured extensively. They followed this with their first trilogy of albums released in 1976, '77 and '78, often referred to as their hard rock period. A later reconvening saw the release of three albums in '80, '81 and '82, during their art rock period, ending with a trio put out in '85, '86 and '87, considered their "crisis" period. The nature of Armageddon's current touring contract prevents them from releasing any new material. Because of this, rock historians call the span of time from their last release to the present as their post-album period.
In 1976, The Yardbirds' manager, Dewey Cheatum, decided to tap the then unexploited underwater market, touring to merpersons and other intelligent aquatic beings. His plan had The Yardbirds performing as as The Seabirds to the underwater populations of coastal towns. The band found the idea insane, but as they had all signed contracts with The Devil (like just about everybody else), they consented. Tragically, on their first tour date, an over enthusiastic fan at Innsmouth waddled out onto the shore and dragged Keith Relf into the water where his guitar electrocuted him, killing him. (The remaining Yardbirds continued to tour as Flock of Seagulls.)
**NOTE** Stories that Keith Relf was electrocuted while playing a poorly-grounded guitar in his basement are utter fucking lies.
Upon his entrance to The Great Beyond, Keith met local greeter and future wife, The Grim Reaper. Knowing that the person who has Death's scythe has the power to command her, Keith used his golden voice to charm her and steal the blade while she was busy swooning. He then had her take him back to her residence, so that he could crash and consider his new status as a death-defier. During one of Death's poker nights, Keith met the members of Death's former band, The Four Norsemen of the Apocalypse – Famine, Pestilence, and War.
Upon discovering that he was late of the music scene, the three reminisced about their former work, such that when Keith suggested they tour again with him as their front man, they were eager to break out of retirement. They christened the new band Armageddon with Death acting as their manager and Relf made the seamless transition from live-in boyfriend to lead singer.
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Upon forming Armageddon, Keith Relf took the band on an extradimensional tour. Early setlists are difficult to piece together as most extradimensional mediums are incompatible with ours. As a result, most are the products of hearsay and may in fact be heresy. Reports suggest, however, that early Armageddon was a cover band, playing such rock classics as "Prism Difracting Light Against Black Background," "Four Lads Crossing a London Street" and the lesser-known "Roger Dean Bullshit Take Three."
During this time they developed the material for their debut album, preparing to unleash it upon an unsuspecting public. The material remained unreleased, however, until their swan song album.
The First Trilogy
After finishing up their extradimensional tour (which some say actually took an eternity rather than just feeling like one), Armageddon released a concept album of sorts, titled Armageddon, which was more or less a musical diary of their travels in the regions beyond and features the highest ratio of "touring is hard" songs to normal songs on any release (excepting Touring is Hard Vol. 1, 2 & 5). Armageddon was the first septuple album, the release of which bankrupted the fledgling label, Happy Puppy Records. When Death - normally a shrewd businesswoman - was asked why she had undertaken such a disastrous financial venture, shaseoilglkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk
At this point the Four Norsemen considered breaking up the band, but
our their eternal despot Keith Relf took a fraction of his vast personal fortune to fund their next album, Rugeddonit. Rugeddonit, a true concept album, described the events of the War on Terra. Problematically, the opening salvos of the war had not yet sounded. Relf conceived the album's predictions as its main selling point, but it was panned by Critics as being Eco-rock past its prime. As time moved on, the references to the future became relevant and the three or four people who had heard the album wished they hadn't pawned it for pot money. When Lester Bangs asked to meet Death for an interview to discuss "her latest failure", I she set up an interview for a time of her own choosing in the distant future. This was to be at the end of Armageddon's second trilogy of albums in 1982.
After two commercial tanks, Keith gambled and invoked the "Third Time's a Charm Rule," forcing the other members of the band to make a third effort in order to prove him wrong. The resulting album was a brilliant construction of hard rock taken to its most extreme level. Their label at the time - deLay Records - left the album to languish in the vaults, knowing that its release upon the record-buying public would rock millions to death. They negotiated a deal with Armageddon, realizing how successful the album would be if allowed to cool for a few years, and promised to release the album in 1980. When they dug the album out, however, a series of clerical errors caused it to be released under the name of an Australian hard rock band named AC/DC, though still under its original title, Back in Black. While a few weak-minded individuals were rocked to death, the vast majority enjoyed the album and contributed to its smashing success. Armageddon, realizing an opportunity was to be had (given that their sound had taken a new and altogether different direction), made a deal with AC/DC. The Australians would turn royalties for all things related to Back in Black (sales royalties, performance royalties, t-shirts, toboggans) over to Armageddon while benifiting from their newfound fame. While it is officially out of print, the album is currently maintained in their catalog as Armageddonit.
While waiting for the release of Back in Black, several members of Armageddon tried their hand at extrabandicular activities. Feeling outcast from the group, Famine attempted to break into the disco scene. His first single, Easy to Suck, Hard to Swallow, was a minor chart success, though the resulting album, Feed the Beast, was a commercial failure. Pestilence began a profitable series of bad puns and side-projects under the name PEST, scoring a #1 hit with Thin White Line off of his second album, AntiPESTa. War broke into pictures, starring in Apocalypse Now and reprising his role a record number of times, beaten only by Jim Varney.
Meanwhile, the animosity between Keith Relf and Death gave way to mutual respect and eventually a close, personal relationship; the two tied the knot after the wild success of Back in Black. Rumors abound that Keith Relf ordered Death to marry him,
but that's just not true. Keith's a won
The Second Trilogy
Months before the release of Back in Black, the Four Horsemen began to wax nostalgiac for the "peacy folkie bullshit" of their earlier years. Due to his relationship with Death, Keith's iron fist over the group had begun to slacken and he allowed himself to be led into Armageddon's art rock phase. Keith contacted his sister, Jane Relf, to provide female vocals, and the six of them put together The Grim Adventures of Keith and Jane. The album is a rock opera where Death tries to kill Dick Cheney through unlikely and over-elaborate methods, all of which are foiled by the misadventuresome duo of a chihuahua and a cat (sang by Keith and Jane, respectively), often by wrecking Death's secret laboratory. For example, when Death consigns Dick to die from old age, Keith and Jane clog a toilet with ambrosia, providing Dick with a veritable Fountain of Youth. In the end, Keith and Jane bring Dick a whimpering mutt-dog named Spot to which Death has fed pop rocks and soda. When the puppy explodes, Dick suffers a heart attack, but as Cthulu has welded his inner sanctum shut, Dick is eaten first, after which Cthulu is heard to remark "Damn, that's one spicy meat-a-ball!"
A drunken Keith Relf once mused that the album was about the inevitability of death, but most people agree that he watches too many fu cartoons.
In 1981, Armageddon went on to record Delusions of Armageddon, a triple-album containing 7.6 musical interpretations of apocalyptic prophecies. The majority of the tracks are
at a perfect len insufferably long and break down into Keith and Jane trying to scream over each other. The album, however, was propelled to #1 status by virtue of several hit songs: Keith Richards (Will Survive), Screaming (part 2), the twelve-minute Screaming (reprise), I Sure Wish I Had Missed This Thing, and the album closer It's Very Dark (and We are Likely to be Eaten by a Grue). Its release came under fire by many religious organizations who believed Armageddon had made mockeries of their views of the endtimes. While the band issued an emphatic statement that this was not indeed the case, the liner notes featured several photos/illustrations indicating otherwise, including one of Keith Relf rolling around and laughing next to an open Bible. Several of the less wise petitioners were fooled into believing that Keith was in fact having a divine revelation.
Not one to pass up a golden opportunity, Keith Relf collected the hatemail produced by Delusions of Armageddon and, with the help of his partners in crime, rearranged them into the lyrics of Armageddon's sixth venture, Out of the Pissed. Among the 158 minutes of material are such gems as You're Going to Hell (but I'm Going to Heaven) and His Noodlyness Does Not Approve. The album is oft-cited as a major influence by members of the spirit-punk (A.K.A. spunk) rock movement. When asked why Armageddon was so hostile toward apocalyptic prophecies, Keith said
- Because I'm with the Four Horsemen. I'll be there. You think I haven't read my wife's daily planner? I know when these things happen. And when that day comes, I'll be riding on the back of a pale horse, copping a feel off a very sexy lady, and in the end, isn't that what man has always dreamed of?
**NOTE** Most spunkers use routine and unimaginative religious imagery in their lyrics. Spunk rock purists who dig deep for the most bizarre, obscure textual references consider themselves the followers of the true spirit of Out of the Pissed and refer to themselves as spelunkers.
Amidst pressure from various religious groups and internal animosity, Armageddon broke off a piece of that Kit Kat Bar. War returned to his lucrative movie career while Pestilence began another string of Top 40 hits with the single It's Not Easy Being Green off of his album Absolute PEST. In a rare display of fortune, Famine put together the supergroup Famine and the Fasters; after a couple of months, they changed their name to Feast or Famine and Famine finally gained the independence from Armageddon that he had wished for. Keith Relf and Death went on their first proper honeymoon while Jane Relf quit herself from Armageddon entirely.
The Third Trilogy
While Armageddon's hiatus was working out ideally for
all part everyone but me Death, tragedy struck late in 1982, when Pepa, one of the Norsemen of the Apocalpyse, died in a freak barnstorming accident. A volatile sodium (formerly Salt) died later in 1984. Members of Armageddon were greatly saddened and felt responsible for their deaths, as the original Four Horsemen had retired, putting all the pressure of the world on those two scrappy kids. To alleviate guilt, Armageddon reassembled (with Death providing female vocals) and vowed to donate 1% of their profits to Norway's effort to get new Norsemen appointed.
The crowning achievement of this period is perhaps their seventh album, Apocalypse, a foray into the then popular thrash metal scene. Even after deciding to give 2% and then 3% of their profits to the Norsemen cause, a suitable amount of cash could not be raised for the dreaded Shadow Puppet Government. Rather than part with any more of their money, Armageddon decided to issue Apocalypse, which is currently the second-longest Ballmer issued against the third-largest entity against which a Ballmer has been issued; that is, they threatened to end the World. To this end they performed a variety of truly tasteless actions, including but not limited to distorted recordings of Pestilence huffing kittens (or whatever he could get his licorice-wasted hands on) and rhyming masses with masses. When playing, the album would whisper Ballmers against the listener. The end of the album was configured so that the needle would slip into a groove and repeat the phrase "motion of the ocean" until destroyed at a safe distance. Officials grudgingly consented to Armageddon's demands, appointing Vinegar and Nutmeg as the official replacements of the Four Norsemen.
While Armageddon had achieved great success on the Norwegian front, they reasoned that having an actual Four Norsemen of the Apocalypse would make more sense and lighten the workload. Additionally, Vinegar and Nutmeg were n00bs and needed some on-the-job experience in order to earn their epic mounts. Armageddon expanded their lineup to a seven-piece band with Vinegar on assorted horns and Nutmeg on auxilary percussion and donated an astonishing 5% of their fun and profit to efforts to bribe the Shadow Puppet Government. Their eight album, Ragnarok, follows the natural progression of styles from thrash metal to music hall in the grand tradition of the Bonzo Doggie Doodie Daddie What are You Doing to Mommy Band. While named Ragnarok in honour of their newest members, the album had virtually nothing to do with Norse mythology excepting the pseudo title-track, Ragnarock.
In 1986, the Shadow Puppet Government took Armageddon's bribe on the condition that the Two Norsemen prove they were competent enough to train additional replacements without Armageddon's aid. Vinegar and Nutmeg were forced through a torturous training regimen, culminating in a raid on the White House. They ended up being the first group to down Hootie, but some pirate using the handle Clinton ninja'd all the epic loot and took credit for the kill in 1993. All was not in vain, however, for the Shadow Puppet Government appointed two more Horsemen as agreed, Linguini and Meat Sauce. (Meat Sauce later turned out to be none other than Karl Rove, a mole in woman's clothing, sent to appraise the actions of the Four Norsemen.)
Armageddon is currently on hold. After finishing the training of Vinegar and Nutmeg in 1990, they were signed to do a tour supporting War, the band. War never tells them when they're going to tour, though, and as a provision of the contract, Armageddon cannot release any new material or tour independently until fulfilling their contract with War. By the time they hear that War is travelling and are packed and ready, War shuts down. This has gone on so long that Armageddon has virtually disassembled in the face of futility. The former members of the Four Norsemen have given to other pursuits, though Keith and Death have continued to play the style of art rock begun during the second trilogy in the group Delusion.
- Keith Relf (vocals & harmonica)
- Pestilence (electric & acoustic guitar)
- War (drums, vocals and assorted percussion)
- Famine (bass guitar & originator of the electric bowed bass guitar)
- Death (vocals & blade whetting/scraping) (manager since 1976 and member since ~1980)
- Jane Relf - Keith's sister; provided female vocals for the band for a trilogy of art rock albums and left before their mid-80s comeback.
- Vinegar - One of two replacement Norsemen of the Apocalypse; responsible for assorted horns. Part of Armageddon during a grueling training period from 1986-1990; left with Nutmeg to reform The Four Norsemen.
- Nutmeg - One of two replacement Norsemen of the Apocalypse; responsible for auxiliary percussion. Part of Armageddon during a grueling training period from 1986-1990; left with Vinegar to reform The Four Norsemen.
- Ronnie Soak - Briefly joined the band for their smash 1987 album and supporting tour.
Armageddon has released the following albums:
- 1976: Armageddon
- 1977: Rugeddonit
- 1978: Armageddonit
- 1980: The Grim Adventures of Keith & Jane
- 1981: Delusions of Armageddon
- 1982: Out of the Pissed
- 1985: Apocalypse
- 1986: Ragnarok
- 1987: Apocralypse
- During the Apocalypse sessions, Armageddon attempted to capture the sounds of the grue on record. Within seconds upon entering the studio, however, the grue (name Grue Some) ate Pestilence and subsequently contracted every disease suddenly known to grue kind. Later that same year, courts ruled in Some v. Pestilence that a person eaten by a Grue cannot be held legally responsible for death or injury related to ingestion.