Armored Saint Win Hands Down on 2LP
Armored Saint are a colossus, and Win Hands Down will long be remembered as one of the seven wonders of modern metal. The album – the band’s seventh studio offering in a career spanning more than three decades – is all things Armored, a vintage crush of classic power propelled by a cathartic blast of life in the year 2015. This is Armored Saint, and this is nothing short of magnificent.
The fist-pumping adrenaline rush starts with the title track and escalates from there, “Win Hands Down” delivering an album-opening rally cry that re-introduces the players after their five year sojourn since the release of La Raza in 2010. As always, they are the same Saints we’ve grown to know and love – frontman John Bush and bassist Joey Vera, guitarist Phil Sandoval and his brother, drummer Gonzo Sandoval, and guitarist Jeff Duncan – five masters of metal that combine to forge one of the genre’s most criminally-unsung forces.
As has been the case since their reunion album Revelation in 2000, Bush and Vera are the principal songwriters, the bassist writing the music, the frontman writing the lyrics, and the band joining the fray to add their studio punch to the musical maelstrom. The Armored Saint machine is firing on all cylinders, and Win Hands Down isn’t for the faint of heart or slight of metal. At the helm of the onslaught are the vocals, Bush proving yet again why his name needs to be in any discussion of the Big 4 metal singers.
From the bombast of “In An Instant,” inspired by the terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon and the harsh reality that one second can change our lives forever, to the more personal “Muscle Memory,” an epic reflection about one’s legacy and leaving something behind that will make your family and peers proud, there’s as much lyrical substance as there is instrumental prowess, Vera and Gonzo forming a rhythm section thick enough to rival any in metal, with Duncan and Phil Sandoval leading the charge with their fret boards ablaze.
There are even a few firsts on the album. Pearl Aday joins the Saint on “With A Full Head Of Steam,” it’s galloping gate marking the first time Bush has ever shared lead with a female singer, and “Dive” features piano as the lead instrument for the first time in the expansive Armored catalog. Then there are the moments that are a little more tongue-in-cheek, without losing the trademarked Armored stomp. “An Exercise In Debauchery” is about people’s fascination with porn and “That Was Then, Way Back When” rides the band’s power metal groove as the singer pokes fun at his generation’s desire to be connected online.
Armored Saint Win Hands Down Track Listing:
1. Win Hands Down
3. An Exercise in Debauchery
4. Muscle Memory
5. That Was Then, Way Back When
6. With a Full Head of Steam
7. In an Instant
9. Up Yours