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Armored Saint - 'Win Hands Down' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/67/83/5e/armored-saint-win-hands-down-5-1441134577.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 01, 2015    
 
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An album that unearths different layers and gets better and better the more you play it.

Five years after 'La Raza', the Metal world welcomes the return of iconic Metal veterans Armored Saint. Remarkably, AS have stayed intact throughout their entire existence, only replacing original guitarist Dave Pritchard, who tragically succumbed to leukaemia, with Jeff Duncan. That means John Bush (vocals), Joey Vera (bass), brothers Phil Sandoval (guitars) and Gonzo Sandoval (drums) and Duncan have been representing AS for twenty-five years and have been with record label Metal Blade uninterrupted for even longer.

If one is familiar with these guys then you pretty much know what you're going to get; controlled aggressive Heavy Metal with plenty of melody, cool vibes, thought-provoking lyrics, interesting left-field passages and superb musicianship throughout.
The title track is no exception with heavy, blistering guitar, raucous, powerful vocals and a surreal Psychedelic mid-section. 'Mess' deals with environmental and cultural issues with a sitar mid-section and hugely impressive drumming from Gonzalo who drives this dark edged song to its powerful climax. Vera's expressive bass is stamped all over 'An Exercise In Debauchery' with more blistering guitars, passionate, aggressive singing and compelling melodic riffs with Duncan and Phil Sandoval easily matching any of their previous top performances with the band.

What I especially like about AS is the comradery of friends who grew up together that have remained loyal, even after Bush's (particularly), and Vera's celebrated stints in Anthrax. That insight into the workings and writings of another band at the top of their game has seeped into the AS's armoury and Bush's singing has become more aggressive as a result (in my opinion), less so on post Anthrax offering '...Raza' but more prominent on this.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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The nostalgia displayed on 'That Was Then, Way Back When' takes you on a journey with its driving, powerful essence showing everything that is great about the band. 'In An Instant' is just as powerful, again with those blistering melodic guitar solos scything through the sound like razor blades in a wind tunnel, something that belies its acoustic intro and leanings and Bush's subdued, measured vocal.

Proving how adept at ballads Metal bands are, 'Dive' shows a piano, string and acoustic accompaniment and what a rich, soulful voice Bush possesses; Phil Sandoval provides yet another beautiful melodic solo.

Negatives? There aren't any! When AS can produce a Queensrӱche-like opening to 'Muscle Memory' and showcase a wide array of stylistic musicianship from Vera's near-Funk bass, echo-effect guitar and Jazz-led syncopated rhythmic drumming to Bush's melodic-inspired chorus, then you can totally realise that Armored Saint aren't, and have never really been, your typical American Heavy Metal band.

An album that unearths different layers and gets better and better the more you play it!

Carl Buxton

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