The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world


METAL BLADE RECORDS | Release Date: June 2 2015


BOOKS & DVD'S 2009-2014 

It’s been five long years since Armored Saint rose again with the critically acclaimed ‘La Raza’ and from the opening punches thrown on ‘Win Hands Down’ there’s an immediate feeling that this one may be even better than that wonderful return.

With an infectious drum pattern, cool groove, killer vocals and an inappropriate level of sheer brilliance title track ‘Win Hands Down’ is Metal the way it should be, but only can be in certain very capable hands; and three minutes in when they take it right down only to reignite it into new flame it is just about the best song you will hear all year bar none.

If you wondered where you could possibly go from there ‘Mess’ has an equal level of attitude, power and fire about it, all capped by John Bush’s controlled power; before ‘An Exercise in Debauchery’ blasts out of the speakers. Three songs in you will already be patting yourself in the back for grabbing this one.  

The atmospheric ‘Muscle Memory’ is an almost essential change of pace after such a fiery opening but it’s a short respite as ‘That Was Then, Way Back Then’ rekindles the flames and hits the accelerator with its Power Metal groove that puts it a little at odds with the Metallic opening salvo, it’s got a great lyric about social media’s absurdities and some great guitar but it doesn’t have the urgency of the rest of the album, saying that though the rest of the office love it!      

‘With a Full Head of Steam’ that follows sees Scott Ian’s significant other and Meatloaf’s daughter (and no mean singer) Pearl Aday make a cameo and it ends up being a masterstroke as the guitars soar in and the pace picks up she perfectly complements Bush’s lead . It’s a great song and set up next to ‘In An Instant’ with a lyric inspired by the terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon it’s another great one-two punch.

Closing out the album first there’s an even greater change of pace as ‘Dive’ sees Vera take to the piano (yes piano!) to showcase the depth of Bush’s vocals. You have to reflect on how much variation ‘Saint have managed to pack into an album of just nine songs – it’s certainly their most varied and liberating album to date, and pummels you and sooths you in the way that bands like Soundgarden always got away with. Parting Shot ‘Up Yours’ is a simple hard rocker with a wonderful sentiment to leave us with.

It’s hard to talk about an album like this without talking about the players: Gonzo Sandoval and Joey Vera have to be about the best rhythm section out there, whilst Jeff Duncan and Phil Sandoval are absolutely stellar in their understanding of the change of pace and essential fire required from the guitars in what is a sonically varied album. John Bush of course is simply sublime whether full pelt or reclining. You can only gape in wonder about what this sounds like live. ‘Armored Saint’ has to be a ‘must see’ on the live circuit this year.

Every now and then you see you get an album that denies passing fashions and gets right to the core of the music we love with great songs, channelled aggression and a sheer force of will and when you add to that perfect storm a band that is firing on all cylinders you have something very special indeed.


by Mark Rockpit


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