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Label: Metal Blade Records

Release Date: June 2, 2015

Rating: 9/10

Reviewed by: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur

Armored Saint is one of those metal bands that was always slightly off my personal taste radar, but after listening to the band’s latest, I am going to correct that quickly.  Title track “Win Hands Down” opens the disc and this rocker really gives the disc a push in the right direction.  The vocals from John Bush are top notch, as are all the guitar riffs & solos, as well as the heavy handed pulse provided by the rhythm section.  “Mess” comes charging out of the gate and doesn’t look back.  The guitar combo of Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan lead that charge with furious playing.  The vocals enhance the sound of the guitars.  “Muscle Memory” is one of the two tracks that clocks in at over seven minutes, but it moves and rocks so well, the song stays crisp from open to close.  Joey Vera’s bass lines accentuate the opening and then add punch throughout the track.  “With A Full Head Of Steam” is a great rocker that keeps everything moving, while giving the guitars room to solo between verses.  The added bonus of Pearl Aday on the track gives the song depth unheard on previous Armored Saint offerings.  “Dive” is a 180* shift for the band and disc, but it does two things: (1) allows Bush to bring it down a notch and sing, and (2) gives the band the room to demonstrate how talented they are when they aren’t turned up to 10.

“An Exercise In Debauchery” is six minutes of great rock and roll, especially the drums as provided by Gonzo Sandoval.  The timekeeping and shifts on this track stand out against the guitars and bass, while providing a killer tempo and cadence for Bush’s vocals.  “That Was Then, Way Back When” is a killer track that comes at you like a full-steam locomotive and runs you over with the same force.  Vera’s bass and Gonzo’s drums work in tandem to give this song punch and power, while the vocals rush for the finish line.  “In An Instant” opens with a cool acoustic guitar dueting with Bush’s vocals, but the song soon picks up and the familiar Armored Saint sound is coming straight at you.  Soon the acoustic sound jumps back in and we are treated to a cool shift back and forth that builds the power and emphasis of the track and disc as a whole.  Don’t skip any part of the track, as you might miss some of the best guitar solos on the disc.  Disc closer “Up Yours” brings the collection to as strong a finish as the disc opened.  The bass and drums push this one along while the guitar churn out great sounds & solos and the vocals drive home the power of the lyrics.  Bush and Vera, the bands main songwriters, turned everything up a notch on this release.

Tracklisting: Win Hands Down – Mess – An Exercise In Debauchery – Muscle Memory – That Was Then, Way Back When – With A Full Head Of Steam – In An Instant – Dive – Up Yours





Category: CD Reviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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