ARMORED SAINT – Win Hands Down (Metal Blade Records)


ARMOREDSAINTcdcoverWHDReview by C.: As a metalhead from Los Angeles, I go back a long way with Armored Saint. No, not personally—I don’t know any of the bandmembers or anything! However, my memories go a long way back; from the days during my early years as a metal fan when I would tune in to KNAC (our local metal radio station from 1986-1995), and hear Armored Saint classics like “Can U Deliver”, “Last Train Home” (a song that came to symbolize the final days of KNAC, as many of the DJs chose it as the closing song of their last shifts before the station went off the air), and “Reign of Fire”, to name a few. I even admit to preferring the John Bush era of Anthrax, if only because I could pretend I was still listening to Armored Saint!

After a long hiatus during Bush’s tenure with Anthrax in the ‘90s and into the early 2000s, Armored Saint has since reunited and have been kicking ass ever since. Their latest effort, Win Hands Down from 2015, is a rapid-fire metal eargasm from start to finish: the opening title track is classic Armored Saint, showcasing the band’s groove-laden heaviness, and John Bush’s roaring vocal prowess.

While the music shows no sign of age, Armored Saint certainly doesn’t try to deny it either: on the track “That Was Then, Way Back When”, they deliver a tongue-in-cheek observation of today’s music scene, technology, and the whole “social media” phenomenon. As one of the veteran metal acts from the ‘80s, they also no longer have anything to prove and can take their music wherever they want, which they did on the penultimate track, “Dive”: a haunting, piano-based ballad placing Bush’s diverse voice front-and-center (truth be told, parts of it remind me a little of the Bush-era Anthrax tune “Black Lodge”).

Of course, Armored Saint can deliver (pun intended) when it comes to giving the fans their classic sound: “An Exercise in Debauchery”, “With a Full Head of Steam” (featuring guest vocalist Pearl Aday), and the closing track, “Up Yours”, all have that Armored Saint trademark of groove-laden rhythms coupled with heavy metal brutality. That thumping bass, those smokin’ guitar riffs, and strong vocals: that’s Armored Saint, and Win Hands Down is an apt title for an album that takes no prisoners and hits the mark from beginning to end. This is an album that is right up there with any of their earlier material, and definite proof that good music has no age limit, and bands can still produce top-quality material decades into their career.

If you are one of those old-school metalheads who think that all the bands from the ‘80s have put their best albums behind them, or if you are one of these younger metalheads who think that the older bands have nothing new to give or anything interesting to say…I recommend all of you to put on the new Armored Saint. 

My Rating: 95/100 ( Outstanding, high valued albums & Classic Ones… a direct purchase is advisable!)