Armored Saint – “Win Hands Down” (Metal Blade Records)
‘…with boots on ground, a giant sound, win hands down…’ – prepare for the march of the Saint! That’s how it was said back in the 80s when Armored Saint were one of the most happenin’ bands on the West Coast, so much so that vocalist John Bush was considered as taking over that duty from James Hetfield in Metallica! Bush of course, went on to join Anthrax as did bassist Joey Vera with Fates Warning but nothing could keep this much revered band out for long. Returning at the turn of the century, Armored Saint have gone from strength to strength and now with “Win Hands Down” they’ve done exactly that! This is a barnstormer of an album, reeking of that old band in its monstrous, swaggering hard rock riffs that made the Saint able to stand their own even against the thrashiest of metallers, and always driven by the steam hammer rhythm of Vera’s deep crunching bass and Gonzo Sandoval’s heavy duty power drumming! Bush remains as always one of the best rock / metal vocalists of his generation, possessed of that classic Americana style that millions worldwide dream of but can only copy – well this guy is the OG homes! The soloing of Jeff Duncan and Phil Sandoval in particular really impressed me on this album – just totally wild man, firing away and at times even out’ve control so it was really nice to get that radical feeling on the road burning title track or ‘With A Head Full Of Steam’. Saint’s rep was also made on full on anthemic singalongs and it’s no less lacking on ‘An Exercise In Debauchery’, where Bush leads the ripping vocal shout out with those guitars once again injecting the momentum with their blazing ferocity. “Win Hands Down” is classic Armored Saint all the way from way back made just right for today – as we used to say and still do – Saints will conquer!