Fans of classic heavy metal and good old household names probably shout out with joy: the SAINT are back! This LA-band probably have one of the most interesting background stories around. Starting in -82, they are featured in the background of more established acts such as METALLICA (with singer John Bush almost being recruited to the metal giants once upon a time), and making their debut (“March Of The Saint”) in -84, complete with knights armor and all. Things didn’t turn to greatness for ARMORED SAINT though, and for quite some time the band just hibernated and did… nothing. Singer John Bush took a job with ANTHRAX for 10 years and 4 albums, while bassist Joey Vera spent most of his time in FATES WARNING. 2010 saw the return of ARMORED SAINT for real, with the groovy album “La Raza”, an album that is definately a grower for the listeners that it more than half a chance. When I spoke to Joey Vera that time he was very excited about the SAINT coming back together, and my guess is that he is quite pleased with this follow up. It is a rather natural next step, mixing nice hooks in some songs with some intermissions.
“Win hands Down” starts up with the thundering title track, probably the best track on the album and definately the one with most drive and punch in it. It reminds me of the bushy years in ANTHARX in a good way, and sets expectations quite high. Expectations that are only partly met. Of course, ARMORED SAINT do not just rip into the songs – that’s not really their style – but adds that specific groove to them from time to time. And it’s the “from time to time” that creates the problem. Sometimes I sing along and just go with it (the chorus of Mess, the laid back groove of Muscle Memory or the overallnice In An Instant are probably the best examples), but just as often as not I find myself waiting for the next song. And that’s not really a good sign when listening to an album.
Production is great – Vera himself have done the producing – and I think the band overall is doing a great job. All the pieces are there but I just can’t seem to get them to fit together all the way. perhaps more time is needed, but after some 10-15 roundabouts with “Win Hands Down” my guess is that it’ll be an album that looks good on the shelf, and that whenever I feel the mood for some SAINT it’ll be another album that I choose.
That being said: it is nice to see ARMORED SAINT back. I like them, despite the rather low grade for “Win Hands Down”.
ARMORED SAINT “Win Hands Down” = 2/5. Passable. For Fans and Collectors.