Armored Saint

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March Of The Saint

Armored Saint - March Of The Saint ©1984 Chrysalis
1. March Of The Saint
2. Can U Deliver
3. Mad House
4. Take A Turn
5. Seducer
6. Mutiny On The World
7. Glory Hunter
8. Stricken By Fate
9. Envy
10. False Alarm

Armored Saint may have been one of the most unlucky bands of the burgeoning 80s metal scene. For starters, singer John Bush was once offered the vocalist role in Metallica, which he turned down because he thought his own band had what it took to be superstars. The band endured lineup changes, personal tragedy and their own bad choice in a record label that had no idea how to handle this act. And finally, their classy version of metal was just one step outside of either the more typical Judas Priest/Iron Maiden schools of metal or the blossoming caveman thrash metal scene. Armored Saint became this band that had its small core of ardent followers but spent much of their existence in the 80s on the outside looking in at other bands' successes.

March of the Saint, their debut full length, didn't necessarily help their cause. While by no means a bad record, it was hardly the thing of fire and brimstone that might take a new listener by the ears and make him or a her a lifelong fanatic. The songs are pleasant, tuneful and very well played by all the musicians involved. Yet something in the sterile, friendly production robbed the band of the energy that is necessary for metal. Armored Saint needed a debut that raged at ten and the volume knob was a more suburban neighborhood friendly six or five. That was indeed a shame because several of these songs have proven to be concert standards for the Saint over the years, including "Can U Deliver" and "Mad House". The band's generally midtempo, melodic music never did quite achieve anthemic status on any of the songs presented here (though "Glory Hunter" and the title track try very hard) or offered enough of a ruckus to excite anyone who was also checking in with Metallica, Slayer or any number of other more vehemently acidic acts of the time.

For longtime fans of Armored Saint, this album is obviously already in one's collection. For those who are newer to the band and are checking out their history, subsequent releases capture the band in a prime form, rather than this diminished state that is March of the Saint.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2001

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Delirious Nomad

Armored Saint - Delirious Nomad ©1985 Chrysalis
1. Long Before I Die
2. Nervous Man
3. Over the Edge
4. The Laugh
5. Conqueror
6. For the Sake
7. Aftermath
8. In the Hole
9. You're Never Alone
10. Released

Unlike most bands, Armored Saint reversed the order of their sophomore slump by releasing a relative dud as a debut and ratcheting things up several notches for their second album, Delirious Nomad. The debut record suffered from a hamstrung production and unconvincing delivery by the band, but Delirious Nomad completely sweeps those problems away and gives the band a proper reintroduction to the metal world. Of course, as we all know, Armored Saint never did quite rise to the top of the mountain but this album was as good as most anything released in 1985.

First and foremost, the album is given a good studio treatment, giving everyone clarity and bite. The music retains some of its energy, which rectifies the problems of the debut. Bassist Joey Vera, one of the band's most notable musicians, is given special treatment that many metal bassists never received: he's audible in the mix. No doubt Jason Newsted still brims with rage and anger over the unfairness of it all.

Armored Saint's music had its own niche in the mid 80s. They fell between the cracks like no one else, as they weren't glam, thrash, speed metal or Judas Priest knockoffs. That alone is possibly why Delirious Nomad does not sound terribly dated over two decades later. The band was able to establish different moods and dynamics throughout the album (yet another flaw with most of their peers), from the bluesy groove of "Over the Edge" to the energetic "Released".

As stated earlier in this review, the most impressive thing about the album is that it still has a bit of freshness to it and does not wallow in the many failings of 80s metal. This band might have spent their career being overlooked, but they still managed to put out some excellent records that deserve attention nearly twenty-five years later.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2009

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Raising Fear

Armored Saint - Raising Fear ©1987 Chrysalis
1. Raising Fear
2. Saturday Night Special
3. Out On A Limb
4. Isolation
5. Chemical Euphoria
7. Frozen Will/Legacy
8. Human Vulture
9. Book Of Blood
10. False Alarm
11. Underdogs

For two albums, Armored Saint was easily one of the most solid metal bands around. Though not fitting into the speed/thrash metal craze nor quite being classic metal ala' Maiden or Priest, the Saints' sound was unique and powerful. Dave Prichard's strong sense of riff matched with Joey Vera's tasteful and intelligent basslines created a style that was singularly their own and not beholding to anyone else of the era. Even a decade or so later Raising Fear escapes sounding dated. The highlights are plenty: the cover of "Saturday Night Special", "Chemical Euphoria", the groovy "Crisis of Life" and "Underdogs", and the very stark feel of "Frozen Will/Legacy" and "Book of Blood". Needless to say the Saints deserved much more success than they received at the time. I get the feeling Chrysalis had no clue how to even work with a band that stood apart from the crowd. If you did miss these guys back in the day, you should do yourself the favor of getting both this and Delirious Nomad for your collection.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/1999

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Saints Will Conquer

Armored Saint - Saints Will Conquer ©1988 Metal Blade
1. Raising Fear
2. Nervous Man
3. Chemical Euphoria
4. Book Of Blood
5. Can U Deliver
6. Long Before I Die
7. Madhouse
8. No Reason To Live

Released as a means of getting their feet wet again with their original record label, Metal Blade, Saints Will Conquer is a neat little live EP recorded in Cleveland, Ohio, in late 1987. The lineup at the time featured guitarist Dave Prichard, captured for nearly the last time for an album, as he passed away awhile later from leukemia. The album also includes an early demo track that had never before been released. The live portion of the album is fairly raw and sounds as though they didn't put much effort into polishing things up in the mixing process. As a result, you get a good feeling of what the concert actually sounded like. The set list is a pretty good representation of songs from their three Chrysalis albums and for the most part, their more energetic songs. The playing from all four members of the band is very solid and infused with an extra dose of stage excitement. The result is a very spirited show. The one studio track is the aforementioned early demo release called "No Reason to Live", which is a rather moody but very solid song. Saints Will Conquer is by no means a mandatory release but for fans of Armored Saint, it's a great companion to the 80s studio albums.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2000

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Symbol Of Salvation

Armored Saint - Symbol Of Salvation ©1991 Metal Blade
1. Reign Of Fire
2. Dropping Like Flies
3. Last Train Home
4. Tribal Dance
5. The Truth Always Hurts
6. Half Drawn Bridge
7. Another Day
8. Symbol Of Salvation
9. Hanging Judge
10. Warzone
11. Burning Question
12. Tainted Past
13. Spineless

Coming off the tragedy of guitarist Dave Prichard's passing at the hands of leukemia, Armored Saint regrouped with some members of their past and rallied to release one of the best albums of their entire existence in honor of their fallen friend. Remaining members John Bush, Joey Vera and Gonzo recruited former Saint guitarist Phil Sandoval and added second guitarist Jeff Duncan and put together a thirteen song, nearly hour long album of some great, classy heavy metal.

The most striking thing upon listening to this album is the new width and depth of moods the band displayed. Whether it is a pensive, somber sound, such as "Tainted Past", the brooding yet anthemic "Last Train Home" or the playful, catchy-as-the-Asian-Flu "The Truth Always Hurts", Symbol of Salvation is the kind of record that never repeats itself or grows tiresome over the course of an hour. The album also loses some of the strange "outside-looking-in" qualities of their Chrysalis years where the listener always felt there was something keeping him outside of the band's loop. These songs are fully accessible and warm. The two guitarists do an excellent job of filling some mighty big shoes and offer great solos, leads and riffs all the way through the album.

Certainly a high point coming after a very low chasm in the band's existence, Symbol of Salvation was an aptly titled album, reinvigorating a band who had been through some extremely tough times. Strangely, after what looked to be a promising rebirth, John Bush bailed for Anthrax, leaving the band in limbo for nearly a decade. Given the recorded history of Anthrax with Bush at the vocal position, it might have made more sense to stick with his original band. Regardless, Symbol of Salvation is one solid way to go out.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2000

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Armored Saint - Revelation ©2000 Metal Blade
1. Pay Dirt
2. The Pillar
3. After Me, The Flood
4. Tension
5. Creepy Feelings
6. Damaged
7. Den Of Thieves
8. Control Issues
9. No Me Digas
10. Deep Rooted Anger
11. What's Your Pleasure
12. Upon My Departure

Eighties thrash metal has never been my cup of tea, but make no bones about it, I can at the very least appreciate excellently executed bodies of work, never mind the genre. Yet in light of the newer breeds of the metal race, the eighties styles in general seem oh-so dull and listless in comparison. Armored Saint's Revelation falls squarely into this latter phylum.

A brief historical survey: Armored Saint is John Bush's first significant band, before he left to join Anthrax in the early 90s. However, try as they might, adversity's malevolent hand always seemed to handcuff 'Saint right when financial prosperity was just around the corner, as if they were cursed with a Pandora's Box. From the death of guitarist Dave Prichard to Bush's defection to the ranks of the more renowned Anthrax, Armored Saint redefine hard luck. But nostalgia inevitably sets in and in 1998, Bush and Joey Vera decided to give their old band another go. Hence, Revelation.

Prior to this reunion album, I hadn't heard any of 'Saint's discography, so I have no previous notions by which to judge their newest. Most of their songs follow a stock songwriting formula, with a few notable digressions towards the end of the CD. They play a fast-paced hard rock/thrash metal with a solo or two in every song.

The first half is the better half, with choice cuts including "The Pillar" and "Tension." The great majority of the album can be described as verse/chorus songs of medium duration, with many tracks beginning by varying their entrance themes. The music can get very catchy, and you'll pretty soon find yourself bobbing your head up and down in a reflexive action.

"Damaged" slows down the otherwise allegro tempo, and apparently functions as one of the album's ballads, all the while remaining quite heavy. "No Me Digas" is another "ballad," this time sung in Spanish, probably to spice up the music and forestall the settling in of complete monotony. "Upon My Departure" begins with acoustic guitars and clean singing, a nice break from Bush's exasperating vocals. While there are worse, John Bush won't be mistaken for a virtuoso anytime in the near future. Sung in an aggressive and edgy, yet clean style, I nevertheless can not digest vocals of this variety without a bottle of antacid. Admittedly, they are effective, but pretty unspectacular overall - fitting words for the rest of the album as well. The lyrics, on the other hand, are fairly well written and much subtler than they may seem at first glance. They can be described as straightforward, angry, in your face verses that sound very tacky initially but are actually quite reflective upon further inspection.

But at the end of the day, Revelation guillotines itself in its own tepidness, meandering in a musical limbo from which no album has any hope of escaping. Nothing particularly bad can be said about the work, but it lacks that extra spark that actually makes me care.

Review by Jeffrey Shyu

Review date: 02/2000

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Review #2:

Some things just never make sense. In 1991, Armored Saint rebounded nicely from the tragic passing of guitarist Dave Prichard by issuing Symbol of Salvation, one of the most solid records in the band's quite consistent career. Then vocalist John Bush bailed for a lucrative spot fronting Anthrax and Armored Saint simply folded. Over the course of three albums Bush did finally find a comfortable niche with Anthrax, but Bush's distinctive voice made Anthrax sound like another version of Armored Saint. Perhaps only Volume 8: The Threat is Real found Bush sounding like he completely clicked with the Anthrax lineup.

Finally in 1999, Bush remembered his old friends in Armored Saint and got together to record a new album, Revelation. The revelation to be found here is that Bush simply belongs in Armored Saint. Whether it is chemistry or my natural assocation of his voice with Armored Saint, Bush has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that after nearly twenty years in metal, Armored Saint will always be the band for him. This homecoming album is quite simply one of the better metal albums to come out in some time and a great way to begin the year 2000.

Revelation is very much a logical and natural follow up to 1991's Symbol of Salvation. Perhaps the testament to the band's chemistry is that even though nearly a decade has passed, Revelation retains a freshness, regardless of the fact that this could have been released in 1992 and sounded at home then as well. Simply put, there are some excellent songs here. The melodies and guitar riffs are all Saint Certified Excellence and retain a signature sound throughout. Some songs go above and beyond, such as the instantly yummy "Creepy Feelings" or the smooth feel of "Den of Thieves". Better yet, there is a definite boogey to a lot of the tracks, further making this album a good time. For any fan of Armored Saint, Revelation is a godsend and hopefully Bush will get together with the old band every so often to put out more great albums.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2000

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Nod To The Old School

Armored Saint - Nod To The Old School ©2001 Metal Blade
CD one:
1. Real Swagger
2. Unstable
3. March Of The Saint (2001 Version)
4. Day Of The Eagle
5. Never Satisfied
6. Tainted Past (2001 Acoustic Version)
7. After Me, The Flood
8. Creepy Feelings
9. Lesson Well Learned
10. False Alarm
11. On The Way
12. Stricken By Fate
CD two:
13. You Can Run But You Can't Hide
14. Betty '79
15. People
16. Get Lost
17. Tongue And Cheek
18. Pirates
19. Medieval Nightmares

This one is for the fans.

But then again, with a band like Armored Saint who has never truly been the flavor of the day, nearly anything they do is strictly for the fans. Regardless, the two CD Nod to the Old School is a very nice present for their fans, as it compiles new studio tracks, live songs from their 2000 tour, the tracks from the original 1983 EP, soundtrack inclusions and old demo recordings with original guitarist Dave Prichard, who passed away from leukemia years ago. This lengthy compilation is a very nice treat for fans of Armored Saint and rises above a mere "greatest hits" retrospective. Among the new studio treats is a remake of "March of the Saint" as well as three new songs recorded in 2001, an acoustic version of Symbol of Salvation's "Tainted Past", and another song recorded in 2000. The songs from the original EP, including a fourth song from those sessions, sound great, benefitting from the remastering for this compilation. Possibly the nicest touch of this entire compilation are the songs from a 1989 demo featuring Dave Prichard. For a four track recording, the demos sound very good and it's a tragedy Prichard was lost to the world soon afterwards.

Overall, this is definitely something any fan of Armored Saint needs in his or her possession. Nod to the Old School is neither shoddy nor irrelevant to the band and instead gives the listener a wealth of historical and unique footnotes. With Anthrax seeminly on permanent hiatus, it is definitely wonderful to see singer John Bush giving his original band his time and unique voice. With luck, Nod to the Old School is just another release in hopefully longterm rebirth of Armored Saint.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2001

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