Anything for a Weird Life

A User’s Guide to Universal Order of Armageddon (Numero 221)

This kid I went to high school with kept handing me fliers.

He was a year ahead of me. I knew him a little bit, but not well.

The name of his band was eventually banned on campus.

This may have been after the incident where he had a sign out at his cafeteria table that said HEROIN - THREE DOLLARS” to promote his distro-style selling of another band’s seven inch records.

In any case, fliers began to appear on campus for bands with names like…

Universal Odor of Amaretto


Universal Order of Armadillo

…but we knew what was up. It was that same band, that same kid. And with a name like that, a name that heavy… what could that band possibly sound like?

Now you can find out. This is my guide to The Numero Group’s double vinyl release of the music of Universal Order of Armageddon, available to pre-order here (release date: Friday, May 10th, 2024).

Side A

This Side A music was first released as an EP on Kill Rock Stars. It is fitting and proper for it to be first, as it is the release that, in retrospect, captured the sound of the band at the apex of what they would create. Through my eventual friendship with that kid who kept handing me fliers, Anthony Malat, I had the rough studio mixes of these songs long before their official release and got to hear them worked out live over time. Imagine Stepping Softly Into” being performed as one long raw two-stage riff- no bridge. Now imagine that is how you hear it for the first time. It was my privilege and pleasure to crank Visible Distance” and these other tracks for new ears via my car stereo, the reaction being varied but always extreme. It was like having the ability to summon earthquakes.

Side B

This Side B music was first released on different singles, the first two songs I believe coming from the same recording session that produced the Side A” music. The last two songs were released on a 12” single on Gravity Records. As I heard about the Gravity session and got a copy of the rough mixes, word was that things had not gone as ultimately planned. Now, via this release and Numero’s digital/steaming reissue campaign, you get to hear the completed mix of Longer, Stranger”, as dreamed up then, but brought fully to life now.

It may surprise you to learn that Longer, Stranger” is a Dub-plate version of a song on Side A. It did not hit me as odd at the time, as I had spent many hours with the band in the van and in other capacities. Their interests in music were eclectic and varied. Through them, with special thanks to member Colin Seven, I heard Can for the first time, one of many instances of being mind-blown by something Tonie might have slipped into their van’s tape deck. You never knew what they would be listening to as they traveled from home base to gig and back again.

Side C

This Side C music was first released as a demo tape. For those who were tuned in, it was the first available recorded output of the band. Each demo tape came with a booklet and was handmade. My cassette looked like this.

I remember Anthony printing out the stickers via a family laser printer.

This music was also released on seven inch singles. Anthony made it a habit of mailing these to me when they were available, sometimes typing messages to me on them, like the one below.

“tim, it’s finally here, sorry about the delay.. give me a call.”“tim, it’s finally here, sorry about the delay.. give me a call.”

Yes, I did give him a call.

Side D

This Side D music was the great prize of my tapes of the band for many years, the version of Painfully Obvious” first appearing on a Kill Rock Stars compilation, Rock Stars Kill”, the third and final in a trilogy.

If the first three sides are the band’s music in the studio, this radio session for WFMU is the closest aural version of the group live. I did see them live, as many times as I could. You can now hear how the ferocity creates an impression that has led to hyperbole and mythology, a bad game of scene telephone, leading to citation(s) needed” on their Wikipedia page. There was no complete destruction” of gear or any show violence- you could not really mosh to this music. Just react. My reaction was cathartic rapture, the only complete destruction” being of false ideas of what was possible to conjure via live music.

Over the years, my intimacy, familiarity, friendship, and connection with this band has been met with any number of reactions, from indifferent shrugs to I guess I wasn’t as cool back then as you were” to Oh no! Old man Kabara is prattling on about that band that changed his life again. I bet he is going to start chatting us up about Lungfish soon!” This is all fine and fair.

I admit I can’t stay away from the topic. The band opened the door to a larger world which I have been involved in now for over thirty years. A kid from Southeast Baltimore has many potential paths forward, many of them not so great. This one appeared like a comet screaming across the sky, a satellite crashing to Earth. I am extremely grateful that it did. I continue ever on in our shared underground. And, for me, it all starts here.

Tim Kabara

IG: @kim_tabara

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