I caught Armored Saint live a couple of times back in the ‘80s opening for Alice Cooper (Raise Your Fist and Yell) and McCaully Shenker Group – MSG (Perfect Timing), they’ve always impressed me with their ‘take no prisoners’ style of street metal.
Armored Saint has been marching the world since 1982 but Win Hands Down is incredibly only the group’s seventh studio release! This is largely due to the fact that John Bush left Armored Saint in the early ‘90s to take over as vocalist of Anthrax. Now, two albums removed from those double duties, it really sounds like John Bush has come home.
The music of Armored Saint has always been closer to heavy metal than thrash metal, emphasizing solid vocals over speedy riffs, keeping the music fresh for the listener. John Bush demonstrates his unique vocal abilities on tracks like “An Exercise in Debauchery” or “Dive” where the delivery is mildly reminiscent of the late great Layne Stayley (Alice in Chains).
In addition, the song “With a Full Head of Steam” features back-up vocals of Pearl Aday, the wife of Scott Ian (Anthrax) and the daughter of Meatloaf (Michael Lee Aday). Other highlight tracks are: “Win Hands Down” and “Up Yours”.
Lyrically, Armored Saint has always been exceptional and they definitely play to their strengths on this record. I initially thought some of the verses were cheesy but repeat listens taught me to appreciate the depth of these ‘real life lyrics’. Some choruses became entrenched in my head so deeply, I had to play the track to exorcise the thought!
Armored Saint was once a force to be reckoned with and although the days of March of the Saint and Raising Fear are gone this new effort has definitely put the band back on the metal map. Check out this impressive release! \m/
1. Win Hands Down
3. An Exercise in Debauchery
4. Muscle Memory
5. That Was Then, Way Back When
6. With a Full Head of Steam
7. In an Instant
9. Up Yours
Armored Saint are:
Joey Vera – Bass
Gonzo Sandoval – Drums
Phil Sandoval – Guitars
John Bush – Vocals
Jeff Duncan – Guitars