ARMORED SAINT

"La Raza" (Metal Blade; 2010)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

After a near-decade long layoff, arguably the biggest hard-luck metal band ever Armored Saint return with "La Raza," an infectious multi-layered metallic creation brimming over with a deep wealth of hooks while retaining the ahead-of-their-time eclectic heaviness that made the band stand out amongst swarms of bands from the 80s.

This Los Angeles quartet first rose to prominence in 1984 and have endured many hardships (most notably the passing of original guitarist Jeff Duncan to leukemia resulting in some major sabbaticals throughout their tenure), yet this 10-track release shows no sign of rust or stagnation. Instead, this veteran troupe sound rejuvenated, incorporating a more decisive hard rock flavor (“Chilled”) while keeping the listener intrigued with a barrage of melodic and crunchy tunes with a genuine reverence for the band’s middle of the road old school sound.

Blasting out an impressive array of tasty solo work and powerful riffs (“Left Hook from Right Field”) while vocalist John Bush’s recognizably gritty delivery anchors the entire affair, Armored Saint displays an affinity of their former selves with a contemporary kick, resulting in another solid offering by a band known best as a squad who inconsistently deliver strong albums.

For more information, check out http://www.armoredsaint.com

"Nod to the Old School" (Metal Blade; 2001)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Armored Saint is one of those rare bands that had an enormously successful career way-back-when, faded to near non-existence when their lead vocalist split to join Anthrax, and then enjoyed a successful comeback when that vocalist returned to the fold (although last I heard he's still involved with Anthrax as well).

"Nod to the Old School" is just what the title promises: a collection of new, rare and rarer Armored Saint tracks that run the gamut from kick-ass modern metal to rare, 4-track demos dating back to 1989.

Disc 1 of this two-CD set starts with four tunes recorded in 2001. They are all solid rockers, with the powerful guitars, soaring vocals and well-written songs we've come to expect from Armored Saint. Track 3, "March of the Saint," is a recently recorded cover of a classic Armored Saint tune. The fifth track is another solid song, this one recorded in 2000, entitled "Never Satisfied." Rounding out the newly recorded stuff is an acoustic version of "Tainted Past" which - although I'm sick of the whole unplugged nonsense - ain't half bad.

The balance of Disc 1 contains live tracks from the band's 2000 tour and four songs from the band's 1983 3-song EP. Three of the songs, of course, appeared on this EP. The fourth was recorded during those sessions and was unreleased until now.

Disc 2 of the collection is a little light when compared to first, at least at first glance. There are seven tracks here, clocking in at less than 25 minutes. Included are "You Can Run But You Can't Hide" from the "Decline of Western Civilization" soundtrack, and 4-track demos of "People," "Get Lost," "Tongue and Cheek," "Pirates" and "Medieval Nightmares." There is also a track labeled "Betty '79" that sounds like someone turned on a recorder backstage at an AC/DC concert - which, in fact, may be the case.

Just in case you think Disc 2 is a rip-off with only 25 minutes, however, fret not. Disc 2 also contains two live videos in the Windows Media Player format: "March of the Saint" and "Long Before I Die," both recorded during the 2000 tour at the Whiskey in Hollywood. 

"Nod to the Old School" is a great double-CD not only because it showcases the history of one of metal's great bands, but because it's a great standalone collection of killer tunes. Sure, the rawness of the demos on disc two isn't pure and digital - but that's half the fun, isn't it?

For more information, check out http://www.armoredsaint.com

"Revelation" (Metal Blade; 2000)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It's appropriate that the first track from "Revelation," the first CD from Armored Saint since 1991, should be entitled "Pay Dirt." "I'm side-stepping your phony idols," sings vocalist John Bush, "That's when I'll hit pay dirt." Bush has got it exactly right. By sticking to the purest form a hard rock/heavy metal and ignoring the trappings of thrash, grunge and today's rap metal, Armored Saint has put together a CD that any respectable headbanger should be proud to have in their collection.

"Revelation" is chock-full of heavily guitar-driven songs, backed with drummer Gonzo's powerfully syncopated beats and raging vocals by John Bush. Bush's time in Anthrax seems to have served him well - his vocals on "Revelation" seem finer tuned and more expansive than previous recordings. Overall, the songwriting is strong and the CD's production, by bassist Joey Vera, is excellent; well-balanced and full. The CD was mixed by the legendary Bill Metoyer (Slayer/WASP/Sacred Reich).

There isn't a bad song on this CD, although "No Me Digas" (a "Limited Edition bonus track" which sounds like the theme from a Clint Eastwood western) is a bit of a surprise. The strongest tunes, however, are the driving "Pay Dirt," "The Pillar," the radio-friendly "Creepy Feelings," "Damaged and the rough and ready "Upon My Departure."

Fans of Armored Saint should rejoice. As the band claims on the back of the CD art, "Thank you all the fans everywhere - we're back!"

Armored Saint is: John Bush, vocals; Joey Vera, bass; Jeff Duncan, guitar; Phil Sandoval, guitar; Gonzo, drums. 

For more information, please visit http://www.metalblade.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

 

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Copyright © 2010 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 21 Feb 2016 12:36:07 -0500 .