ARMORED SAINT

Heavy Metal • United States
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Armored Saint is a traditional heavy metal band that was formed in Los Angeles, California in 1982. The initial lineup consisted of singer John Bush, bassist Joey Vera, guitarists Dave Pritchard and Phil Sandoval, and drummer Gonzo Sandoval. Their sound is heavily influenced by European hard rock and metal acts including Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest. Their name was first suggested by an inebriated Gonzo Sandoval after the band watched the medieval-themed movie “Excalibur”. While his band mates initially laughed at the idea, the name stuck. Their first gig, much to their delight, took place at an all-female Catholic high school.

After recording a five-song demo, they were fortunate enough to have their song “Lesson Well Learned” appear on the Metal Blade compilation album Metal Massacre II. Impressed by the group, Metal Blade helped further promote the band by releasing their self-titled EP,
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ARMORED SAINT Discography

ARMORED SAINT albums / top albums

ARMORED SAINT March of the Saint album cover 3.54 | 12 ratings
March of the Saint
Heavy Metal 1984
ARMORED SAINT Delirious Nomad album cover 3.73 | 11 ratings
Delirious Nomad
Heavy Metal 1985
ARMORED SAINT Raising Fear album cover 3.81 | 9 ratings
Raising Fear
Heavy Metal 1987
ARMORED SAINT Symbol of Salvation album cover 3.67 | 12 ratings
Symbol of Salvation
Heavy Metal 1991
ARMORED SAINT Revelation album cover 3.67 | 6 ratings
Revelation
Heavy Metal 2000
ARMORED SAINT La Raza album cover 4.15 | 11 ratings
La Raza
Heavy Metal 2010
ARMORED SAINT Win Hands Down album cover 4.05 | 6 ratings
Win Hands Down
Heavy Metal 2015

ARMORED SAINT EPs & splits

ARMORED SAINT Armored Saint album cover 3.50 | 2 ratings
Armored Saint
Heavy Metal 1983
ARMORED SAINT Metal Blade Records: 20th Anniversary Party album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metal Blade Records: 20th Anniversary Party
Heavy Metal 2004

ARMORED SAINT live albums

ARMORED SAINT Saints Will Conquer album cover 3.50 | 3 ratings
Saints Will Conquer
Heavy Metal 1988

ARMORED SAINT demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

ARMORED SAINT re-issues & compilations

ARMORED SAINT Nod to the Old School album cover 3.46 | 3 ratings
Nod to the Old School
Heavy Metal 2001

ARMORED SAINT singles (0)

ARMORED SAINT movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
3.50 | 2 ratings
A Trip Thru Red Times: 1982-1990
Heavy Metal 2003

ARMORED SAINT Reviews

ARMORED SAINT Win Hands Down

Album · 2015 · Heavy Metal
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Necrotica
It's good to stick with your comfort zone sometimes. While risks tend to spice up things in life, being traditional and safe can be just as rewarding; you may not attain the same amount of satisfaction as you might have by taking a chance and experimenting, but there's often a lower rate of failure involved. Just ask Armored Saint; John Bush and co. have made an entire career of sticking to their 80s heavy metal guns and never altering their sound with each passing musical trend. Just like with Black Label Society, you know what to expect when digging into a new Armored Saint record: crunching riffs, shredding solos with lots of blues and neoclassical influence, harmonized melodies, high energy throughout, and of course there's John Bush's charismatic singing that's both gruff and varied. So does Win Hands Down continue these trends? You betcha!

However, it seems that there's some much needed new life injected into the band's sound this time around. Sure, the traditional 80s metal influences are there as usual, but the songwriting is much stronger here than in 2010's La Raza. As the opening title track bursts right out of the gate with intense guitar distortion and an aggressive snare-driven drum fill, the main riff chugs and you get what sounds like a combination of old-school thrash a la Megadeth and modern power metal. It's epic and it really sets the tone for the whole experience. Guitarists Jeff Duncan and Phil Sandoval are in top form, with flurries of Iron Maiden-inspired harmonies littering each song and lightning-fast shredding running rampant. There are also some neat progressive moments here and there, such as the rhythmically off-kilter neoclassical riff of "An Exercise of Debauchery" or the more complex and introspective dynamic build-up of mini-epic "Muscle Memory."

But where this album shines is in how fun it is. It's clear that many of the moments on Win Hands Down showcase Armored Saint's desire to progress with their established sound, but the best moments here are the ones that provide straight-up headbanging material from beginning to end. The main single "Mess" as well as "That Was Then, Way Back When" are perfect examples of this, especially the latter with its chugging thrash-oriented riff and the chants of the song's title during the chorus. Many of the tunes on here function perfectly as full-on anthems, and the excellent instrumentation is just icing on the cake. The rhythm section is also fantastic, with longtime Armored Saint stalwarts drummer Gonzo Sandoval and bassist Joey Vera providing both muscle and complexity to their roles and playing off the guitarists wonderfully. Unfortunately, there is one major problem with Win Hands Down and it's something that plagues numerous Armored Saint albums: how homogeneous things get after a while. There's quite a bit of variety on the album, but not quite enough to justify multiple seven-minute songs and a relatively long overall running time. That is, until the masterpiece known as "Up Yours." This is one of the best songs I've heard in modern metal; the main descending riff is always compelling, the vocals are extremely powerful and charismatic, and the guitar solo is among the best of this decade so far. I'm not kidding... the song is that good.

Win Hands Down is quite shocking in its quality. I suppose only time will tell if it will maintain such staying power, but as it stands, this is Armored Saint's best album since Raising Fear. It might not remain compelling throughout every minute of its runtime, and it does certainly tread old ground, but it ends up being a great mix of the traditional and the modern. In a current metal scene in which bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet for My Valentine are worshiping Iron Maiden and Metallica left and right, it's nice to hear something from some real veterans who can show them how classic heavy metal is done.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

ARMORED SAINT Symbol of Salvation

Album · 1991 · Heavy Metal
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Warthur
Armored Saint's Symbol of Salvation presents a sound which for the most part straddles the borderline between the lighter sort of traditional heavy metal and the harder, grittier sort of glam metal or hair metal. It doesn't dive head-first into utter cheesiness the way many glam/hair metal bands did, but at the same time it always seems like it's on the verge of doing so. Whilst it's impressive that Armored Saint were able to turn out an entertaining album in this style in 1991, an era when this particular subgenre was on a downward slide, at the same time I don't think it's quite the sort of album which will get much traction with you if you aren't at least partly open to the particular subgenre it's working in. It's good stuff, but not one of those albums which is going to break down any barriers or blow any minds.

ARMORED SAINT Nod to the Old School

Boxset / Compilation · 2001 · Heavy Metal
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Pelata
After returning in Y2K with their stellar comeback record Revelation, California metallers Armored Saint serve one up to their long time fans with A Nod To The Old School; a collection of early indie tracks, live tunes, 4-track demos, covers and a few new numbers in a 2Disc package that is sure to fit comfortably into any die-hard Saint fan’s collection.

There are even a couple of live videos embedded on disc 2 that play nice and loudly on your PC. John Bush has a great attitude in his voice. ‘Real Swagger’, one of 2 brand new cuts here, showcases this perfectly. A driving mid-tempo riff coupled with John’s acidic snarl drills right into your brain. The chorus on this one is begging to be played live. This would have fit neatly within the Revelation record. ‘Unstable’, the second newbie, has a good, chugging riff counteracted by a cut time, softly sung chorus. The feel of this track is nice and dark, which John’s vocal brings out nicely. The high-octane remake of ‘March Of The Saint’ will have the lifers banging their heads and shaking their fists in pure metal bliss.

Kudos to the Saint for their obscure taste in cover songs. They deliver Robin Trower’s ‘Day of the Eagle’ and Judas Priest’s ‘Never Satisfied’ with unadulterated Armored Saint style and substance. Joey Vera (bassist) handled all production duties for the new tunes and the result is a full, heavy mix and crystal clarity. Guitarists Jeff Duncan and Phil Sandoval turn in their usual amount of guitar venom, and Gonzo Sandoval pounds his drums without a hint of mercy. The acoustic reworking of ‘Tainted Past’ offers a moody, melodic break in the madness. Nice tones on this one.

That’s pretty much it for the ‘new’ stuff here. The rest of disc 1 is rounded out by 2 live tunes (recorded on the US 2000 tour) and the original Bill Metoyer produced, 1983 3-song EP plus 1 extra from the same sessions. Disc 2, besides having the videos, is chock full of 4 track demos from 1989, plus ‘You Can Run But You Can’t Hide’ (from The Decline Of The Western Civilization Part 2) plus a strange little 54-second blurb called ‘Betty ’79′. Oh, about those demos, they sound good. Don’t let the ’4-track’ tag fool you.

While not quite full-scale release quality, I have heard store-bought albums that sounded much worse. Diehard Armored Saint fans and metal collectors need to get their leather-gloved claws on this 2-disc set.

ARMORED SAINT La Raza

Album · 2010 · Heavy Metal
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Pelata
Armored Saint has always had it’s own vibe. I can’t think of a band off the top of my head that I’ve ever compared to Armored Saint. They manage to move their sound forward on each album, never intentionally repeating themselves, yet still retain that Armored Saint core sound. La Raza is a very natural sounding progression from where they left off with Revelation and the couple of new tracks―“Real Swagger” and “Unstable”―that were included on 2001′s Nod To The Old School compilation.

Tracks like “Left Hook From Right Field”, “Loose Cannon”, & “Little Monkey” carry all the attitude and grit you’d expect from this band… driving tempos, intensity and heart. John Bush has never sounded better. One of the coolest things about his voice is his trademark “on the verge of giving out” screams. He sings with all the piss and vinegar a listener can handle. “Head On” has a great blend of groove and gravel. The aptly named “Chilled” is a nice change up in the middle with it’s dark, smoky verses and hard-hitting chorus. “Bandit Country” brings a bit of funk into the mix while sacrificing none of the albums ferocity, as does “Get Off The Fence”. The title track is a nearly 7-minute jaunt through off-kilter grooves, percussion and attitude… the melody on the chorus carries an air of angry sadness and fits perfectly.There’s an underlying air of menace throughout the album that ties it all together quite nicely.

La Raza has a very organic, earthy tone about it. The riffs are fat. The vocals are impassioned. The hooks and tempos are infectious. The lead work is soulful and impressive. You’re swaying under the weight of a massive groove one minute, then giving yourself future neck problems the next. When it’s cranked in the headphones, it almost sounds as if you’re in the room with the band… loud and heavy. All in all, I’d say ten years was worth the wait for La Raza. It’s raw, real and ultimately a very satisfying listen. In a time when other bands their age either seem to lose their way or try to be something they’re not, Armored Saint do neither. They prove that veteran acts can deliver the goods time after time.

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