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Armored Saint - Win Hands Down

Shostakovich   (109 reviews)

Posted: 08/20/2015 | Comments: 0 | Rate:

The latest album from the kings of the 80's traditional heavy metal underground. Armored Saint to many is simply John Bush's band before Anthrax. True metalheads though will tell you they are a metal gem, a workhorse band who plodded away throughout the 80's, the last of a breed of bands who played metal before it was thrashed, deathed, blackened, doomed, crusted, and all the other various subgenres that developed since their career began. Myself....I will give them credit for being one of the strongest bands to ever proudly carry the traditional metal banner, but fall short of idolizing their career.

Everything about Win Hands Down cements my feelings on this band. One thing that is instantly apparent is that Armored Saint has never changed all that much, and probably never will. John Bush is without a doubt the breakout star of this band. He has consistently been one of the best voices in the clean singing world, and is as gruff and gnarly as ever here. Complimenting him is the band's patented twin guitar attack, with sing songy riffs and the occasional headbang inducing groove, like on "That Was Then, Way Back When."

Overall the songs and entire album are above decent, but as with Saint's career, there is something missing. Something I can't quite put my finger on. A little extra bit of energy? Songwriting? A little bite? Some aggression? Could be any or all of these. Frankly I've never heard an Armored Saint album I'd rate above an 8/10. Now note, I also can't think of one I'd rate as a poor album either. Armored Saint is almost militantly "good", but never mindblowingly great. Bands who picked up on their sound, such as Iced Earth, managed to take it to stellar heights that Saint has never achieved.

I almost hesitate to mention the lyrics here. John Bush, as fine a singer as he is, enjoys himself a good cringy lyric. Here on Win Hands Down we are treated to the use of the word "derriere", and lyrics decrying Facebook (by name), and sparkling moments such as "give me a call, send me a text, I even gave you your own unique ring." No. Just....nah son.

The best cut here is "With A Full Head Of Steam." It's a swift, fast paced song with good technical guitar work, pounding basslines, and probably best showcases all the eras of Saint's career. "Muscle Memory" is also a good highlight of the opposite nature; slow, and dark. "In An Instant" also shows a couple spots of pure Maiden worship, but they are sadly brief.

Don't get me wrong about any of this, this is by no means a bad album. It's worth listening to, but I can't recommend it for someone looking to have their life changed by metal.

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