'Win Hands Down'
(Metal Blade Records)
Release date: June 2nd 2015
The march of the Saint continues to stomp forward with the band's seventh studio offering 'Win Hands Down'. This album contains all the trappings expected but branches into new territory as well.
There's more musical freedom throughout, as songs aren't tied to traditional structures. The finished product is a blitz of Metal worthy of the Armored Saint name.
The five-year drought of new music is quickly erased as the opening track, 'Win Hands Down', breaks the silence with a dose of Metal adrenaline. A short, almost jazz infused, interlude is inserted out of nowhere. It's just one of the unexpected moments that keep things unpredictable.
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Another rocker entitled 'Mess' is next. Chants of "annihilate" and heavy riffing drive this beast. A surprising short sitar section jumps into the mix just long enough to add another dimension of sound and dynamic to the song and more twists and turns are found in 'An Exercise In Debauchery' and even more so on 'Muscle Memory'.
The verses on 'Muscle Memory' have a great vibe with the vocals riding on top of the bass line and a guitar tone that seems to be floating around the lyrics. The bridge into the solo is a powerful shift and is as memorable as the chorus.
The power Metal grooved 'That Was Then, Way Back When' fuels a galloping pace to a song Bush wrote about his generation's desire to connect online.
My favorite track is a first in the band's catalog. Never before has Bush shared lead vocals with a female. Pearl Aday joins Armored Saint on 'A Full Head Of Steam' and nails it. The two play off each other perfectly as the musical engine fires on all cylinders.
The dark toned haunting vocal and acoustic guitar begin 'In An Instant'. A song inspired by the terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon. A dose of harsh reality that life can be changed forever in a single second. For the first ever a piano was used as the lead instrument for the brilliant song 'Dive'. An example of Vera not being afraid to push the boundaries that's defined them for three decades.
The last song, creatively titled 'Up Yours', is a big Metal stamp that brings the album to its conclusion.
'Win Hands Down' delivers everything you would want and expect from a band with such a rich history in Metal. Packaging the vintage Metal sound and adding a modern feel and production. The songs are full of riffs, ripping guitar solos, and musical imagination. It's all things Armored Saint... and more!
John Bush - Vocals
Joey Vera - Bass
Phil Sandoval - Guitar
Jeff Duncan - Guitar
Gonzo Sandoval - Drums