Armored Saint Win Hands Down cd review
Armored Saint return after a 5 year absence since the La Raza cd with the release of Win Hands Down due out on the 2nd Of June on Metal Blade Records.
Amazingly this is only Armored Saint's seventh studio album in a career that started way back in 1982 before debut cd March Of The Saint came out in 1984.
Symbol Of Salvation from 1991 is one of my favourite albums to this day and the world will be pleased to know that Win Hands Down in my opinion is right up there with that masterpiece.
John Bush has said this about the new cd.
"When we started work on this record, I said, 'Let's pretend we are a really big band and can do whatever we want'," says Bush of the spark that ignited Win Hands Down. "Technology allows us that luxury, and we can take that luxury when it comes to writing. In the end, we know who we are, so we don't have those boundaries that other bands might have - you push yourself, dig deep and write stuff that makes you feel happy and fulfills you. That's really important, and I think it came through. This means a lot more to us than just, 'We made a rock/metal album...'
From the first note to the last after a ride of epic proportions through 53 minutes of peaks and more peaks of some of the most powerful heavy rock music ever put down on cd.
I am in awe of the production skills that has managed to have an album that grabs you by the throat and makes you bang your head from the word go and just smile at it's majesty.
Led by the mighty roar of John Bush who sounds just like he did way back in the day when others are losing their pipes he is at the top of the tree.When he let's rip the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention as you hear his tonsils vibrating under the power of a range few can match.
The guitar team of Jeff Duncan and Phil Sandoval slash and riff and if a song demands a different riff and an extra solo it let's them do 2 more!! Gonzo Sandoval on drums and Joey Vera on bass are the rock that all of Win Hands Down is built with plenty of chances to shine too.
From the opening cacophony of Win Hands Down with a start that sounds like the band are warming up and ready to shout GO!!A held guitar riff over a barrage of drums and bobbing bass and then John Bush kicks in with his roar and plenty of extra guitar melodies around the chorus as an added bonus.A big chorus just waiting to be played live ices the cake.I love the way the band do what they want and mid song we get a proggy near jazz quiet interlude before we go right back to the held riff and all the band at top gear and a duelling guitar solo.Quiet brilliant.
Mess sees a stop start guitar riff and drums beginning before a near tribal drum rhythm and new dirty riff hit the mark.You can see it being played live with fists punching the air.
Bush again shines with that trademark range at full force and the chorus is amazing.No standard verse/chorus with this you get Bush holding notes and telling the world annihilate and drums patterns changing at will and guitar soloing too.Another change sees a sitar added to a quieter interlude because they can.Wow and that is only the first 2 tracks.
An Exercise In Debauchery sees a rolling guitar riff and fast paced ever changing drum rhythm.In 3 songs there are 20 different riffs and drum patterns to make anyone dizzy.Plenty of additional guitar soloing during verse 2 and another wonderful Bush vocal and is that a Hammond organ added to the mix!!Mid song semi slow down sees an off and on Vera bass solo before a lengthy guitar solo which as always is highly melodic.
Muscle Memory sees a picked electric riff start before a swift bass element is added as the song builds to a chorus that again has a stop start drum rhythm at it's core.Mid song a new chugging riff takes over and a slower drum beat while a fast fingered guitar solo leads into another guitar solo which is more melodic and picked!!
That Was Then This Was Now has a driving drum rhythm with a different chug along riff that has a real gallop to it while a second single note riff entwines alongside it.The chorus is built around a changing drum pattern as the vocal rises and falls with it.Superb guitar solo over the main riff that then changes along with the riff after a brief drum interlude.
With A Full Head Of Steam sees a first for the band with a special guest vocalist joining the band.Pearl Aday who happens to be Scott Ian from Anthrax's wife duets with Bush on a vintage heavy rocker and the 2 voices work wonderfully well together.After a quiet beginning the song explodes with a huge guitar riff before the drums kick in and straight into a guitar solo.Great chorus with the voices entwined.Plenty of extra guitar soloing and a very melodic guitar solo that changes gear at it's mid point.
In An Instant has an picked acoustic intro and passionate Bush vocal before it cranks into gear with yet another held guitar riff and drum pattern.A big chorus is followed by more acoustic work which works well with the riff when it kicks back in.Huge different guitar riff mid solo also changes the guitar solo which gives it a new twist.
Dive is a moment of reflection with a piano led ballad and shows off Bush's vocal delivery and the lengthy emotive guitar solo fits the song so well.
Up Yours is a one finger salute to the world on a stomping heavy romp that closes the album as it was intended in true Armored Saint style.
Armored Saint never quite reached the level of success of the Big Four which I always felt was a crying shame as the music they have produced has a quality that even those four acts struggle to match.
Before their debut album was released they were known as the Headbangingest Band In LA and 32 years later they are back to reclaim that crown.
The UK gets to see the band in August at Bloodstock and also supporting Queensryche at the Electric Ballroom make sure you go as we most certainly will.