Armored Saint – March Of The Saint, Delirious Nomad & Raising Fear (Re-issues)

Armored Saint – March Of The Saint, Delirious Nomad & Raising Fear (Re-issues)
Metal Blade
Release Date: 15/04/22
Running Time: March Of The Saint 38:45
Running Time: Delirious Nomad 41:50
Running Time: Raising Fear 51:45
Review by Simon Black
March Of The Saint 7/10
Delirious Nomad 8/10
Raising Fear 9/10

Their story of a band formed in High School by brothers Phil and Gonzo Sandoval was common for bands forged in the early 80’s, although seems like another world now. Armored Saint are always a band who got good critical responses both live and on vinyl, yet somehow despite some good support slots back in those days they never became as globally successful as they could.

I came to the Armored Saint party quite late and despite being a keen proponent of them over the years, this is the first time I have actually had the chance to listen to their early days. This is probably because here in the UK almost no effort had been made to publicise and promote them in the 1980’s, and the first time I saw a physical copy of one of their albums was not until 1990’s landmark “Symbol of Salvation”. To be honest, it wasn’t much better in their native USA, as this band could have been way more successful in the homeland if they had stayed with Metal Blade (who had got them off the starting blocks and pressed their first EP) instead of getting lured to the first major label who came along. That major label was Chrysalis and these three reissues hail from that period, although Metal Blade now have the rights, which means someone might actually hear them this time round.

“March of the Saint” kicks things off and interestingly only recycles one track from their self-titled Metal Blade debut (‘False Alarm’, which had a great opening bass riff, but sounds like the band were trying to re-record something from Iron Maiden’s “Killers” period, so feel a little out of place). Although the strengths and soulfully charismatic delivery of John Bush’s vocals stand this out clearly as being Armored Saint, it feels almost like a prototype version of the band who haven’t quite found their feet in the song-writing department or full confidence in the technical abilities of the instrumentalists. This comes soon enough and it’s telling that only ‘Can U Deliver’ still crops up regularly in their live sets. It’s by far the strongest song on here and hints at the directions of things to come, although the soulful ‘Take A Turn’ shows how Mr Bush can turn out a Power Ballad of epic proportions when the need arises. It’s an interesting debut, with OK production values for the period, a couple of really strong tracks and no noticeable padding.

“Delirious Nomad” has noticeably stronger production values from the get go, a much sharper and cleaner overall sound, which benefits John Bush, enormously and who really hits his stride from here on in, having honed his performance and learnt how to use his considerable gifts. Where the album struggles is by this point founding guitarist Phil Sandoval has left the band (who continue as a four piece until after Chrysalis are out of the picture), but it leaves a big hole in their sound only having the one guitarist. That means despite some strong performance, that fat meaty sound that is so distinctively missing from Armored Saint at this point. It feels like one step forward and two steps back for now, as that twin guitar sound was a key strength and a backbone in the way they phrased their song writing.

“Raising Fear” sees Armored Saint well and truly upping their game. Whereas March was a straight-ahead Heavy Metal album and Nomad felt a bit rudderless, this sees the band firing on all cylinders. They’ve adjusted to their four piece status by taking a more edgy Rock ’n’ Roll feel to the writing and arrangements and it’s an element that will stay from here on in. Even when Phil Sandovil returns and adds some Power Metal heaviness to proceedings, that edginess remains and is still a part of their sound to this day and also suits Bush’s raw and soulful voice down to a tee. It’s one of the key reasons why American Power Metal is so distinct from it’s Euro counterpart, as although both started from the same root, Armored Saint forged a unique sound out of adversity. 

During the whole period these three albums were being recorded, newer bands were struggling with labels interested only in the burgeoning new fads of Thrash and Hair Metal, with Traditional Metal left to fend more or less for itself. The established bands did fine in general, but this Trad influenced act that would end up effectively forging the US version of Power Metal single-handed struggled to find their feet and with poor support from the label an no small amount of adversity it’s not surprising.

“Raising Fear” really feels like the first album of the band that I love and the starting point of their unique sound. It’s such a shame that it’s the final one from their original label, as with the poor support from them thrown in to the mix as well, it barely made a dent on original release. When I finally got around to discovering them on their next studio release (the seminal “Symbol of Salvation”) they were almost a different band. Phil Sandoval was back, but Dave Prichard who had helped forge the band’s guitar sound tragically passed away during the recording of the album. What came next was an absolute masterpiece, but that’s for another day….

TRACKLISTING:
March Of The Saint
01. March Of The Saint
02. Can U Deliver
03. Mad House
04. Take A Turn
05. Seducer
06. Mutiny On The World
07. Glory Hunter
08. Stricken By Fate
09. Envy
10. False Alarm

Delirious Nomad
01. Long Before I Die
02. Nervous Man
03. Over The Edge
04. The Laugh
05. Conqueror
06. For The Sake
07. Aftermath
08. In The Hole
09. You’re Never Alone
10. Released

Raising Fear
01. Raising Fear
02. Saturday Night Special
03. Out On A Limb
04. Isolation
05. Chemical Euphoria
06. Frozen Will/Legacy
07. Human Vulture
08. Book Of Blood
09. Terror
10. Underdogs

LINE-UP:
John Bush – Vocals
Phil Sandoval – Lead Guitar (“March of the Saint” only)
Dave Prichard – Lead Guitar
Joey Vera – Bass
Gonzo Sandoval – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Simon’s Top Ten Releases of 2021

Simon’s Top Ten Releases of 2021
By Simon Black

Beth here! There’s always one awkward bugger on every team isn’t there. And here at Ever Metal it’s our Simon (we love him though, so it’s ok)! He’s done his Top Ten a little differently, because he simply couldn’t pick his favourite – so well done to all on the list, you’re all joint first place! Enjoy Simon’s words of wisdom…

Happy Christmas you crazy bunch! First off, here are my journo statistics for 2021 first:

Albums Reviewed: 225
Web Sites Contributed To: 2
Live Gigs / Festivals Attended: 1 (just don’t, OK?)
Live Streams Watched: 4
Interviews conducted: 2
Pints of Beer Consumed: I’ve no idea, but there are countries out there with smaller I am sure…

There goes the year when everything didn’t quite get back to normal, but we’re getting there, aren’t we? OK, maybe not with yet another variant unexpectedly teaching us more of the Greek alphabet just when we thought that the end was in sight. Whatever your personal experiences of the last terrible, awful, heart wrenchingly brutal two years have been, the one positive thing that this period of history has delivered is some of the most well-crafted and innovatively created music I have had the privilege to hear in my 51 and a bit years circling this benighted rock. Having realised that this virus thing was not going away, that touring (and the cash lifeline that goes with it) was rapidly becoming a dream and a memory, it seems that lots of musicians found focus, had plenty of things to say and knuckled down in the studio … or indeed in their airing cupboards surrounded by soundproofing duvets… 

My big regret this year though has been missing Bloodstock, as despite having a ticket roll over, a last minute COVID outbreak in my family meant that went out of the window. But I am really heartened that emerging independent bands like Agrona and Ward XVI got the chance to break through into the next tier on that stage. It’s moments like that that make all this reviewing lark seem worthwhile.

Before I give you my personal highlights, a little about the methodology I’ve employed first. I don’t dish out full marks very often and when I do, it’s because I know this is likely to be a record I will want to listen to again and again. With over 200 records crossing my path across two websites, my time to revisit stuff does start to get limited very quickly, especially since I don’t spend my life on the road in the same way anymore. That said, when I find something I really like, it will make its way to my phone and car. So consistently good has been the output this year that whittling this down to only ten entries has not been that easy. So, in alphabetical order ….

The Top Ten

Arion – “Vultures Die Alone”

Part Melodic, part Symphonic, part Progressive, but a thoroughly Modern Metal Milly to boot, Arion came out of left field for me back in April. At the time they only scored a nine, but time and repeated listening has meant that they have certainly moved up to the top of the list of 2021 and they are a classic example of why sometimes bands should not rush out albums for the sake of it. This is timely and beautifully crafted, with some well-used guest features, and a vocalist with the most distinctive larynx I’ve heard in a long while (think of a more Modern Metal version of Chester Bennington, with all the soul and emotion that goes with that image). It’s catchy, it’s heavier than a two ton heavy thing, and it’s still got me going months later. Even the ballad rocks the bollocks off of most of the competition.

Highlights:
‘Out Of My Life’
‘Bloodline’
‘In The Name of Love’

Vultures Die Alone Album Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialArion

Beast In Black – “Dark Connection”

Former Battle Beast axeman Anton Kabanen has put together a truly odd little album here. I shouldn’t like it, but I really do. Whereas the first two albums were a little more in the traditional Melodic/ Power Metal mode (although starting to head in this direction), this piece melds Synthwave groove (to the point where 80’s Disco starts to come out loud and clear) with blisteringly infectious Metal tropes, as let’s face it I can’t think of a single other Metal record that could claim the Bee Gees as an influence. The songs on here are so catchy that you cannot help but tap along throughout, with the unexpectedly brutal vocal delivery of Yannis Papadopoulos, who could give Ripper Owens a serious run for his money, even when he’s channelling his inner Barry Gibb. Even my kids like it, so it must be good … the cover is less so though (see below)…

Highlights:
‘Highway To Mars’
‘One Night In Tokyo’
‘Moonlight Rendezvous

Dark Connection Album Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/beastinblackofficial

Dream Theater – “A View From The Top Of The World”

Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, there can be no doubt that Dream Theater are absolutely top of the Progressive Metal totem pole. They’ve not always done that consistently over the years, with the challenges that line up stability always brings, not to mention the odd ridiculously over indulgent and naff double concept album along the way. That felt like it was a blip, as the current line-up that finally cemented when Mike Mangini joined the band a few albums back has been the strongest and most consistent in their long history. You can forgive them for something like ‘The Astonishing’ when this comes along, because this is seminal, distilled and spot on Dream Theater firing on all cylinders. Catchy and melodic, this album bizarrely remains highly listenable despite its length and the presence of a couple of crazily long tracks. This is pure DT at their absolute best.

Highlights:
‘The Alien’
‘Invisible Monster’
‘Sleeping Giant’
‘A View From The Top Of The World’

A View From The top Of The World Album Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/dreamtheater

Exodus – “Persona Non Grata”

I never understood why Exodus have been so criminally overlooked, as they were so much a part of the original Thrash scene’s birth in San Francisco’s Bay Area. It’s a shame, but line up stability had an awful lot to do with it. But time has continually proven their place in the history of the scene, and albums like this along with the righteous recent surge in their popularity underline clearly why. Bands in the 80’s in the genre often turned out their best material in pressured studio environments, on crap equipment and with engineers who didn’t understand Metal but still had a frisson that overcame those limitations, yet bizarrely lost that special something when better production values came along. But not here, oh no. This album is shit hot energetic Thrash of the finest quality, which has the hasty and frenetic energy of the early days combined with the maturity, craft and production values of right here and now. It really doesn’t get better than this, and the (remaining) members of the Big Four should take note, because Exodus deserve the slot vacated by Slayer for this album alone.

Highlights:
‘Persona Non Grata’
‘Lunatic Liar Lord’
‘The Years of Death and Dying’

Persona Non Grata Album Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/exodusattack

Flotsam & Jetsam – “Blood In the Water”

For the second time this year, and indeed, within this very article, I must bow down to the elder gods of Thrash for rising from the ashes with an album that both encapsulates their heritage and leaves it standing in the dust at the same time. This band had a deserved reputation, yet have struggled to get the popularity and consistency over the years. But for the best part of a decade they have come back bigger and better than their original heyday, which let’s face it was criminally undervalued at the time. It manages the same trick that Exodus pulled off of capturing their old zeitgeist in a new and crisply well-produced package, and A.K. Knutson’s vocal delivery is quite frankly exceptional. I stand by my original review comment that a 10 is not quite enough here, as sometimes things truly do go up to 11…

Highlights:
‘Blood In The Water’
‘Cry For The Dead’
‘Burn The Sky’

Blood In The Water Album Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/flotsamandjetsam.official

Helloween – “Helloween”

The template for Euro Power Metal really does begin with this band. From Kai Hansen’s Thrash and Speed Metal inspired debut, to the glory years when the frankly phenomenal vocal powers of Michael Kiske came on board, Helloween were one of the most influential and more importantly great Metal bands of the period and the lynchpin of the success of the Noise International label. When both of those two moved on, Helloween floundered, along with everyone else, as Grunge ripped the Metal scene apart. But they built themselves back up again from scratch with the stylistically very different but very strong singer Andy Derkis. Then a few years ago the unimaginable happened – both Hansen and Kiske re-joined Helloween alongside the existing line up to form a seven piece Powerhouse of Metal. The Pumpkins Reunited tour was a massive global hit and as this album proved, not just a one-off event. This line up has recorded what may just be their masterpiece, which successfully melds the three very different singers and all the better elements of their vast career into an absolute monster of a record, and would appear to be the way all things Helloween are done from now on. 

Highlights:
‘Out For The Glory’
‘Best Time’
‘Skyfall’

Helloween Album Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/helloweenofficial

Ignea & Ersedu – “Bestia” EP

I had come across Ignea last year and rather enjoyed them, but this split 5 track EP project with fellow Ukranians Ersedu is something else entirely. Covering between the two acts the stylistic fusion of Symphonic, Power and Death Metal with a distinctly Middle Eastern chord structure this conceptual EP exploring the mythical cultures of their home country is quite simply fabulous. It stylistically is so left field that it still leaves me with an uncanny feeling of surprise all these listens later, and I defy anyone not to be blown away by the vocal performances of the two frontwomen delivering roaring guttural shredding and clean and beautiful brilliance in equal measures between them. I normally save this end of year adoration for full albums rather than EP’s, but this is conceptually clever enough to be so close it’s not worth calling. The bands’ alternate tracks and then come together for the spectacular closer ‘The Eaters of the Sun’ and I am left bereft at the thought that this is just a one off, despite now having two new bands I know that I am going to keep following.

Highlights:
‘Mermaids’
‘The Eaters of the Sun’

Bestia EP Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/ignea.band/

https://www.facebook.com/erseduband/

Mad Symphony – “Mad Symphony” EP

This Canadian Melodic Hard Rock Supergroup released their EP in the summer, to universally and deservedly high praise across the board. What has become known as the New Wave Of Classic Rock (did we learn nothing with the NWOBHM acronym?) is more than just some retro bubble, but a genuine breathing musical entity that has one platform boot firmly in the Classic Rock world, with the other firmly ensconced in the present and, more importantly, the future. It quite frankly blew my socks off when I heard it for its unnerving ability to summarise so many of the sounds that got me here all those years ago, whilst also sounding fresh, modern, relevant and damned good fun. This EP was a toe-tester at the label’s behest, with a full album waiting in the wings for 2022 release. Watch this space, because these chaps are going to be phenomenal.

Highlights:
‘Do It All Over Again’
‘The Next Door’

Mad Symphony EP Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/madsymphonyband/

Manimal – “Armageddon”

This album is simultaneously one of the best and also the most frustrating things to have come across my desk this year. I had not encountered Manimal before, perhaps not surprising in that even though they’ve been going for over 20 years, this is only their fourth album. Let’s be clear – it’s an absolutely fantastic piece of music, with a vocal performance in the Halford and Ripper traditions (with a good dose of Primal Fear for good measure) that is quite frankly exceptional. In fact it’s everything that I was hoping that K.K.’s Priest would deliver, but sadly didn’t. The frustration though comes from the fact that, although I reviewed it way back in early September, its release has been continually put back, as Manimal, like so many others, have struggled to get their physical copies pressed and distributed. Those copies are existential life blood for bands when touring is still not fully up to speed, but the worry I have is that this may disappear if it’s released too close to Christmas. So I’m playing it loud a lot and so should you. 

Highlights:
‘Burn In Hell’
‘Slaves of Babylon’
‘Path To The Unknown’

Armageddon Album Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/manimalofficial/

Powerwolf – “Call of the Wild”

Given the number of Power Metal albums I cover, you may be surprised to read that Powerwolf had not really registered too much on my radar before this. I guess their image had always made me assume that they were something very different musically, but when it comes to anthemic Power tropes, these boys (along with Sabaton) are probably top of the game of the second generation of Power Metal in Europe. Their home country would appear to agree with them as this record made it to number 2 in the Germany charts. It’s not difficult to see why, being laden with catchy and anthemic tracks from start to finish. There’s an argument out there that says if you’ve heard one Powerwolf album, then you’ve heard them all, in which case make this your starting selection, as its them in a nutshell.

Highlights:
‘Faster Than The Flame’
‘Dancing With The Dead’
‘Alive or Undead’

Call Of The Wild Album Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/powerwolfmetal

Notable Mentions

So this is where it gets tight. These are the ones I still think are fab, but fall below my criteria of repeated listens, although to be fair in some cases it’s simply because they’ve not been around as long yet. Either way, all are thoroughly recommended.

Against Evil – “End Of The Line”
Armored Saint – “Symbol Of Salvation Live”
Artillery – “X”
Blaze Bayley – “War Within Me”
Motorjesus – “Hellbreaker”
Ronnie Atkins – “One Shot”
The Spectre Beneath – “The New Identity of Sidney Stone”
Ward XVI – “Unplugged And Sedated”

Worst Album Cover Of The Year

Last year I signed off with an album from an established artist who really should have known better, that was so excruciatingly bad that it deserved everything it got and gave me a chance to go full on 80’s Kerrang! on his ass (sorry Glen). This year I’ve taken a slightly different approach to reviewing in general though… 

Basically with far more albums to review than I could possibly have time for and because I like to give them enough time to appreciate some of the work that’s gone into them (which means at least two listens apiece before I write so much as a word), I made the decision at the start of the year that if something was clearly going to be a bit of a flop that I would shift my attention elsewhere, which is why you rarely see anything from me with a score under 5. It’s not that I am being overly generous with my scores, it’s simply that I would rather spend my precious time in front of the keyboard being a little more kind to those who deserve it, than being bitchy for the sake of it. This means quite a lot of material gets filtered out after a couple of tracks and handed to a colleague more in tune with it, as it’s really better to say nothing than something nasty for the sake of filling electronic space.

That said, a couple of the albums that crossed my radar have raised my eyebrows in a different way this year. Now most of us ye olde folks probably own a couple of examples of some really atrocious album art – most likely dating back to the 80’s, when some labels were really not showing much love and care to their artistes. There’s plenty of websites dedicated to this phenomenon, with social media feeds periodically reminding us of some classic clangers, but like Christmas songs new entrants aren’t being given an opportunity to shine, so I have decided to do my small part to correct that. This last year has seen a revival of the The Truly Awful Album Art genre and so for your delectation and delight I present you with my two personal favourites in this category from 2021. 

One important point – both these albums scored 6 or above, in fact one of them is in my top 10 above, however, someone needs to have a word about how to make an impression with artwork.. Here goes:

Beast In Black – “Dark Connection”

Now, the whole mood of this piece drips with 80’s tropes and thematically is a homage to Blade Runner. It’s a fantastic piece of music but the cover really needs to fall through the time warp that brought it soon…

Bloody Hell – “The Bloodening”

Joseph, Mary and the Wee Little Donkey why, why, why?

The Bloodening Album Cover Art

Read some of Simon’s original reviews here:

(Written by Beth Jones)

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Armored Saint – Symbol Of Salvation Live

Symbol Of Salvation Live Album Cover Art

Armored Saint – Symbol Of Salvation Live
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 22/10/2021
Running Time: 01:08:10
Review by Simon Black
9/10

Armored Saint are ones of those bands who really, really, really ought to be much bigger than they currently are. I first came across them when I was given a DJ promo copy of the studio version of “Symbol Of Salvation” way back when and was blown away by a record that across its thirteen songs did not have a duff one amongst them. What I didn’t know at the time was that this was the fifth record from these boys, so what I had taken as an explosive debut was the result of a decade of hard work. That’s work done mainly upstream at a time when America only seemed to care for Hair Metal or Thrash Metal, whilst they ploughed the Power Metal furrow, arguably ahead of Helloween, settling the point, once and for all, why the USA variant is so different from its ultimately more dominant European counterpart.

This was Power Metal with way more groove and soul. Then there was John Bush’s incredible voice – a voice that Metallica once tried to lure away and which ultimately Anthrax succeeded in doing, killing off Armored Saint for a decade, by which time the world had moved on and not helped the fact that Bush still could not let Anthrax go properly until Joey Belladonna’s return in 2005. They’ve been facing an uphill struggle ever since, which is a shame, because I can’t fault any of their recent studio offerings at all – 2015’s “Win Hands Down” and last year’s “Punching The Sky” are absolute masterworks as far as I am concerned, but they don’t quite hold a candle to the last album of the classic line up, which turned out to be original guitarist Dave Prichard’s obituary before his tragically early death from leukaemia in 1990. So, dusting this album down for its thirtieth anniversary makes perfect sense and the band fortunately laid these live shows down way back in 2018 in readiness. Add to this there’s a filmed version of the show in the works, with both recordings being captured at New York’s Gramercy Theatre.

Bush is one of those singer’s whose power has not been diminished by age, even though the tuning may have dropped the odd semitone to help him along, but that makes the material sound darker and heavier than its original recording. That really helps, as even a riotously up-tempo belter like opener ‘Reign Of Fire’ (still the Saint song as far as I’m concerned) sounds better with this darker underbelly. The original recordings always suffered in my eyes, as my ageing vinyl copy never belted out too loud even when turned up to eleven as a consequence of the physical challenges of squeezing fifty-five minutes’ worth of material onto a single disk, so it wasn’t until the coming of the digital age that I could hear a reasonable remastering of this. This live recording goes way farther – the sound is rich, fat and heavier than a two ton heavy thing. Add to which Bush’s performance is absolutely top notch here, with not a note or syllable dropped and although the audience don’t sound too loud, the atmosphere is positively electric.

This release is pretty good value for money too, as well as all thirteen original songs being given the live treatment, plus a radio edit of the title track, but more interestingly five demo tracks featuring Prichard which never made it to the final album. The contrast in Bush’s voice is really obvious played back to back, but his live delivery has a maturity and richness that he lacked in those younger days. Much as I love the original I suspect I’m probably more likely to re-spin this live version in its entirety, as it’s got that darker edge and timbre that the band’s current incarnation has developed combined with some of their absolute best songs in their thirty-seven year career.

‘Spineless’ (Official Video from “Symbol Of Salvation Live”)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Reign Of Fire
02. Dropping Like Flies
03. Last Train Home
04. Tribal Dance
05. The Truth Always Hurts
06. Half Drawn Bridge
07. Another Day
08. Symbol Of Salvation
09. Hanging Judge
10. Warzone
11. Burning Question
12. Tainted Past
13. Spineless
14. Nothing Between The Ears (1989 4-Track Demo)
15. Get Lost (1989 4-Track Demo)
16. Medieval Nightmares (1989 4-Track Demo)
17. People (1989 4-Track Demo)
18. Pirates (1989 4-Track Demo)
19. Symbol Of Salvation (Live Radio Edit)

LINE-UP:
Joey Vera – Bass
Gonzo Sandoval – Drums
Phil Sandoval – Guitars
John Bush – Vocals
Jeff Duncan – Guitars

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Armored Saint – Punching The Sky

Armored Saint – Punching The Sky
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 23/10/2020
Running Time: 53:29
Review by Chris Galea
8/10

There has been a notable consistency in the line-up of Armored Saint and apart from original guitarist Dave Pritchard, who passed away in 1990 (and whose shoes were filled by Jeff Duncan), “Punching The Sky” features the same guys that appeared on the band’s 1984 debut album “March Of The Saint”. This is not merely a bit of trivia but could account for Armored Saint as a songwriting unit and why “Punching The Sky” is one of the strongest releases from the band.

The sound is perfect too…not excessively polished, not too raw…and all tracks have their own temperament. For example, there’s ‘Bark, no Bite’ which has both bark and bite. Or ‘Fly in the Ointment’ with its soulful, Hard Rock moments. Or even ‘Never You Fret’ with its hard-hitting rhythm section and spot-on guitar solos. Or the pensive moments of ‘Unfair’….you get the idea.

Curiously, both album opener ‘Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants’ and album closer ‘Never You Fret’ start with some sort of hypnotic New Age tunes. Perhaps to foster a sense of structure?

Overall, though, there has been no major departure in music style…despite the band members’ involvement with the Bay Area Thrash scene, Armored Saint still seem to keep a closer affinity with the NWOBHM.

John Bush is at the top of his game and amazingly his singing actually seems to have got better with age. Just check ‘Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants’ or my favourite track ‘Missile To Gun’ to see what I’m on about

Compared to other album reviews on Ever Metal, this one has been relatively short. To be honest just 3 words would have been enough: “It kicks ass”. So, if the ongoing pandemic has restricted your mobility, “Punching The Sky” could be a great way to raise your spirits.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants
02. End Of The Attention Span
03. Bubble
04. My Jurisdiction
05. Do Wrong To None
06. Lone Wolf
07. Missile To Gun
08. Fly In The Ointment
09. Bark, No Bite
10. Unfair
11. Never You Fret

LINE-UP:
John Bush – Vocals
Phil Sandoval – Guitars
Jeff Duncan – Guitars
Joey Vera – Bass
Gonzo Sandoval – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.