In this day and age, it is rare to see a band that has its original members still recording and touring. ARMORED SAINT, the legendary band from Los Angeles, California, fit in this category easily. The band formed in 1982 has released seven studio albums, several compilations and two live albums. One of the pioneers of the early Thrash Metal scene in L.A., the band achieved success during the 80’s, till their breakup in the year 1992. Dave Pritchard, the band’s original guitarist died of leukemia in 1990 and the band crumbled in the year 1992. John Bush went on to front Thrash legends ANTHRAX from 1992 to 2005. The other band members went their separate ways before re-uniting in the year 1999 to record “Revelation”. John Bush joined up with the band full time after his stint in ANTRAX ended and the band has recorded 3 full-length albums, as well as a few compilations, since. The band has had a curious history with METALLICA during its early days, as John Bush was to have joined the Thrash legends as their frontman, which he declined. Joey Vera was approached to take up bass duties when Cliff Burton passed away in a horrific accident in the year 1986.
“Win Hands Down” is the first track off the block taken from the band’s 2015 album of the same name. The album eventually made it on the US Billboard chart at a peak position of #183. A track just over 5 minutes in run time, it is a high-energy song. After a strange stumbling awkward beginning, the band gets into its groove, and by the time the chorus comes around, the band is heard firing on all cylinders. “Last Train Home” is another song over 5 minutes and is taken from their 1991 album, “Symbol of Salvation”, just before the band went on a hiatus. The song was written around 1988 with the original guitarist, Dave Prichard, who unfortunately passed away before the song was recorded. The song has a memorable chorus and is a typical Classic Metal song with soaring lead guitar solo work and powerful lead vocals. “Mess” is a 4-minute long song that starts off with an energetic guitar riff before the vocals bursts on in. Taken from the “Win Hands Down” album, the song is a high-octane Metal number and makes good use of backing vocals. The riff is memorable and is a song that involves some crowd participation. The last track of this live album is “Reign of Fire” and it is from the “Symbol of Salvation” album. What starts off with a double guitar attack, turns into a riff that makes fans of old school Metal raise their hands in the air and headbang to the melody. A brilliant end to a rocking good album.
Truth be told, I am not a fan of live records, as I feel that it takes away the sweat, dirt, and the smell of a live show. However, having listened to this album a couple of times, I have grown fond of it and the production value of the record is astounding. The album is a sort of a compilation of two dates that the bands played in Germany in the year 2015; one of them being the famous Wacken Open Air and the other being their headlining show at Aschaffenburg, Germany. The idea for the album came about as an attempt to capture the band in its most comfortable zone, which for the band, is on stage. The band in its heyday, toured with some of the biggest names in Rock and Metal music and are a highly regarded live act. ARMORED SAINT is also highly respected for the sheer length of their careers and the band does not get enough the credit and the recognition they deserve. This album is for the diehard Thrash Metal fans and the band doesn’t disappoint at all.