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Armored Saint - Punching the Sky Award winner

Armored Saint
Punching the Sky
by Kevin Lewis at 13 October 2020, 6:04 PM

ARMORED SAINT is back, better than ever. Formed in 1982 in Los Angeles, California, they are one of the premier Metal bands in the NWOAHM. “Punching The Sky” is their eighth full-length album and is set to be released on October 23, 2020 through Metal Blade Records. Thanks to all the restrictions on live events due to COVID-19, their album release party was held virtually on October 10, 2020 at the Whisky A Go-Go.

First of all, I must admit to being a fan of this band since the early days. I remember hearing “Can U Deliver” on the radio and seeing the video on MTV when they played music videos all day, every day. I loved March Of The Saint, but really fell in love with the band when they released "Raising Fear". “Chemical Euphoria” is a great song that I still love, but “Isolation” is the first ARMORED SAINT song that I truly FELT. I didn’t relate, I experienced that song.

Second, this record is a beautiful complement to the previous two records, La Raza and Win Hands Down. Musically, these three records follow each other with a cohesive sound. Theirs is a distinct, signature sound from the drums to the guitars to the bass to the vocals. Playing together for 30 years will do that. ARMORED SAINT is recognizable in a way that bands like OZZY OSBOURNE, MEGADETH and TOOL are. This is something their fans love about them.

The first single released off this record was “End Of The Attention Span”, and yes, the song is about exactly what you would think it is. If you are an avid concert-goer like myself, you have seen those people who film the whole show and never really look at the band. People walk around all day, every day with their eyes glued to a screen and never seeing the world around them. A device running out of power spells the end, the social media fix cannot be had.

The second single off this record is “Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants”, an epic song with a Middle Eastern feeling intro that leads to a single guitar tome, followed by drums and the lyric “Punching the sky every day”. The second guitar comes in and then the song goes into a standard ARMORED SAINT riff. It’s hard to believe they stand on the shoulders of others since these guys are giants in their own right.

Continuing down the track list, “Bubble” is a grittier sounding piece that has some killer guitar work. Phil Sandoval is a master of tones and Jeff Duncan holds that rhythm better than most in the business. Joey Vera adds a little flair in the middle with a cool run. Then there is the chugging section the that leads into the guitar solo. “My Jurisdiction” comes next and begins with a bass intro. It’s just an overall solid song that speaks of those things that aren’t really anyone’s business, but they somehow end up a part of anyway.

“Do Wrong To None”, starts with some woodsy noises and drum tapping. Then kicks you in the teeth with a fantastic riff. “Lone Wolf” has that catchy hook right up front with some interesting guitar fills, then levels out to a mid-tempo rocker. “Missile To Gun” has the dramatic sounding lead off before slamming into gear for a quick-paced song that gallops along to its’ final note. “Fly In The Ointment” is a variable tempo song that shows the bands ability to shift gears. Again, all have that signature ARMORED SAINT sound that still delivers. Every. Single. Time.

“Bark, No Bite” is about those people who act a lot tougher than they really are. Sounds like people who argue on the internet these days. Similar to people with no attention span, this speaks to the issues some have with social media. “Never You Fret” is that song telling you not to worry, they got this. They “always bring the house down”, and having seen them live a couple of times, this is a very true statement.

“Unfair” is my current favorite on this phenomenal record. Time is fleeting and passing faster every day. Running out at what feels like an exponential rate. Years are hours, hours are minutes and minutes are seconds. A lifetime is now over. As I get older, this is immensely relatable, much like “Isolation” all those years ago, ARMORED SAINT still speaks directly to me. I feel what they write about. Truly great bands can do this. It’s why so many love metal, we feel the songs on a visceral level.

ARMORED SAINT is a band that just gets it. They have been writing and performing songs that touch people in ways only music can. I’ve had a few brief encounters with the band members outside Brighton Music Hall in Massachusetts. I stood next to a blind man at the rail of the club and Gonzo Sandoval handed me a pair of his drumsticks to give to him. John Bush had a wardrobe malfunction and finished the set anyway. These things make a show incredibly memorable.

For 38 years, this group of musicians has put out music that just connects with their fans. The songs are more complex and the lyrics are geared towards what is going on with them now. They don’t live in the past, they continue to move forward. It makes them more human while also elevating them to new heights. One of the marks of a truly great band is the ability to keep your old audience and attract new fans. ARMORED SAINT truly is one of the greats.

This is one of the top albums of 2020. At the end of this year, when we collectively look back at all the new music put out, this one will stand above the rest. A recent trek back through their discography shows just how awesome this band is, and has been for a long time. Never one to coast along on their classic hits, they have put out another record that will be in their fans heavy rotation for years to come!

Songwriting:  10
Musicianship:  10
Memorability:  10
Production:  10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
2. End of the Attention Span
3. Bubble
4. My Jurisdiction
5. Do Wrong to None
6. Lone Wolf
7. Missile to Gun
8. Fly in the Ointment
9. Bark, No Bite
10. Unfair
11. Never You Fret
Lineup:
John Bush – Vocals
Joey Vera – Bass/Backing Vocals
Gonzo Sandoval – Drums/Backing Vocals
Phil Sandoval - Guitars/Backing Vocals
Jeff Duncan – Guitars/Backing Vocals
Record Label: Metal Blade
     


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