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Sweat and Blurred Ink

When the members of Richmond hardcore outfit Armagideon Time asked BlackLiq to join the band as vocalist, the Richmond rapper confesses that he wasn’t really sure what he was doing. BlackLiq, who recently released the album Time Is the Price via Strange Famous in 2021, has been a fixture in the local hip-hop scene for the better part of a decade. Performing and putting together rap shows for eight years, he has released a number of mixtapes, in addition to hosting two radio shows.

But when it came to making the jump to being in a raucous punk band, he had a little hesitation.

“My homies kept pushing me on it and said the worst thing that could happen is you fail in front of some guys you already know,” BlackLiq says of joining the group. “I showed up and was like, ‘I don’t even know how to start this,’ so I just rapped my way into it, and then we’ve just been going from there.”

Armagideon Time is a force of nature, one whose drive and aggression comes from a team of well seasoned artists from the Richmond hardcore scene. Guitarist Jesse Mowery has played in Apostles of Eris and In Wolves Clothing, drummer Andy Kohler and bassist Shaun Reeves in Voarm, and guitarist Taimir Gore in Broke Royals from just up the road in Washington, D.C. By early 2021 the group was nearly fully formed, and almost had a finished set of songs ready to go.

The only thing missing was a vocalist, and that’s where BlackLiq came in.

“We actually had our full EP recorded without vocals before Blackliq ever joined us and basically recorded that,” Mowery says. “And Andy had the idea to have him do vocals for us. So we gave it to him, and he wrote some stuff real quick.”

Armagideon Time’s debut EP Crime As Theatre, released in May via Anti-Corporate Music, is a brief and blistering direct assault of old-school hardcore and crust punk with a strong adherence to melody and no shortage of socio-political diatribes from BlackLiq. He occasionally delves into more personal lyrical territory, like on “For Lovers,” but much of the material here is directed at corrupt institutions, whether a federal government out of touch with people’s struggles on “Stimulus Fuck” or taking down the right-wing propaganda of Fox News on “Foxed in the Head.”

BlackLiq says that once he found the right direction to take, the songs came naturally. Especially after Kohler gave him one specific rule to follow.

“When I was asking Andy, ‘what do I write about, man?’ he said, I don’t know, but whatever it is, it has to be pissed off,” BlackLiq says. “So I was like, I’m fuckin’ angry all the time. I’m not mad — because mad just means you can’t do shit about [it], but I’m angry as fuck. I go into my experiences and I spin some personal stuff in there too. But I’m angry.”

“In rap, I got known as a face-melter. But this shit starts at melting faces,” he continues. “That’s zero. I go 100% all in. My old lyric sheets are covered in sweat and blurred ink. To me that’s what our music sounds like.”

click to enlarge

  • Randy Blythe
  • BlackLiq rocks the mic with Armagideon Time by the river. The cover for the group’s EP “Crime as Theatre” appears to reference the ‘Ku Klux Klown’ effigies hung in Richmond’s Bryan Park by the artist collective, Indecline, back in 2017.

Not everyone in Armagideon Time is a Richmond native, despite having all played in bands here for many years. Kohler and Mowery are both Tennessee transplants, but it’s the music scene that actually drew them to the river city, as well as what keeps them here. And as they’ve gotten Armagideon Time off the ground, they’ve only become more committed to the local punk and hardcore scene, as well as being some of its biggest cheerleaders.

“Pound for pound, per capita, it’s probably the richest music scene for this kind of music,” Kohler says. “The scene here has as many quality bands as New York, L.A., cities all over the world, and it doesn’t make any sense why. But that’s what attracted us to be here. I have no idea why it is the way it is, but I’m here for it.”

Despite the initial apprehension, BlackLiq says that since joining the group it’s been a natural fit, and a fluid collaboration between the five musicians. Now a unified group, the five of them challenge each other as songwriters and musicians, but the result is something that BlackLiq says is even more energizing as a result.

“It’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve done in a while,” he says. “Rap’s been my main place, but this is something that’s been a nice change. It’s not a vacation either, it’s like a full-time job. When you do stuff that you love, it doesn’t feel like you’re working. And they’re all really talented, so I’m just trying to keep up with their proficiency. I can’t ever not show up 120%, and that’s what I love.”

Vinyl Conflict presents Gel, Torment, Richmond Vampire and Armagidion Time at the Camel on Friday, Sept. 23 starting at 8 p.m. $10.

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