Armored Saint

Metal Blade Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The last time anyone heard from Armored Saint, they were recovering from the loss of guitarist Dave Prichard to leukemia, and they released Symbol Of Salvation in memory of their fallen comrade. After that, the band seemed to splinter apart, most notably when singer John Bush was tapped to replace Joey Belladonna in Anthrax.

Now, it's nine years since Symbol Of Salvation appeared on the store shelves (remember when you could say that without thinking about ordering music through the Internet?), and Armored Saint has returned again with their sixth studio album, Revelation. With its release, two questions come to mind.

First, is a band like Armored Saint still relevant in this day and age? From the power of the opening track "Pay Dirt," the answer is a resounding "yes". Musically, the band sounds like they still have the chops that made earlier albums like Delirious Nomad (which I have on vinyl buried in the Archives somewhere) popular at the time. Then again, this was the easy part of the fight.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The tougher question is: How much did Armored Saint influence Anthrax, and now how much Anthrax influence would be felt on Armored Saint? Thanks in no small part to Bush fronting both groups, it's almost impossible to separate the two groups now. Oh, sure, Armored Saint is still more concerned with the songwriting process and establishing a groove that listeners can slam their heads to. But play a song like "After Me, The Flood" from Revelation and a track like "Catharsis" or "Inside Out" from Anthrax's Volume 8 - The Threat Is Real, and have people see if they can tell the difference.

It's not that Armored Saint - Bush, guitarist/vocalist Jeff Duncan, lead guitarist Phil Sandoval, bassist Joey Vera and drummer Gonzo Sandoval - did anything wrong on Revelation necessarily. Musically, they're still a sound band who know how to keep things sounding fresh, even though almost a decade has passed since they last graced us with their presence. Tracks like "Den Of Thieves," "Control Issues" and the "limited edition bonus track" "No Me Digas" all are sure to hold your attention until the last note fades out. Even Prichard is remembered, as he is given a writing credit on "What's Your Pleasure". (It seems, though, that the eerily beautiful "Upon My Departure" would have been a better fit on Symbol Of Salvation.)

The difficulty lies in keeping things fresh throughout the disc - something any band, not to mention one who have been away for so long, has to deal with. While the pendulum swings more often in favor of Armored Saint than against them, there are times where the level sags a bit. Tracks like "After Me, The Flood," "Tension" and "Damaged" all don't quite match the same levels as the excellent tracks - and while these might have been standouts on other albums, they tend to get lost in the shuffle all too quickly. In addition, there isn't much in the songs themselves to really grab the listener's attention as in the premium tracks.

Granted, a little rust is expected after such a layoff, and it could easily be forgiven. But if Armored Saint is going to survive in what is getting to be a cutthroat genre of music again, they're going to need to stylistically separate from Anthrax (though this might be harder to do in reality) and re-establish their own uniqueness in the field. Until then, Revelation is a good first step, but it is a tentative one.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Metal Blade Records, and is used for informational purposes only.