ARMORED SAINT – TRIUMPHANTLY RETURNS WITH “LA RAZA”
When Armored Saint decided to make a return to the recording studio, the Heavy Metal Gods were surely smiling upon them. If I’m to point out a “comeback” Heavy Metal album for 2010, La Raza gets my vote without hesitation. All ten songs on this new Armored Saint album are as quality a listen I’ve had all year. Released on March 16, 2010, on Metal Blade Records, La Raza is best summed up as the most complete sounding Armored Saint album that has ever been created. No pretensions and no gimmicks to be heard on La Raza, this is Armored Saint we are talking about.
Blame it on the inevitable maturation process of these seasoned musicians or maybe the fact that bass guitarist/song writer Joey Vera along with vocalist/song writer John Bush had something to prove to themselves and the rest of the world. Regardless, the solidarity of Armored Saint I hear on La Raza has never come across this potent and real before… to my ears.
I’m by no means overlooking any Armored Saint album of the past here, only pinpointing 2010 as a moment in time for this blue collar American Heavy Metal Band, that deserves to have their finest album to date exposed for what it is, and it is song writing brilliance. Lyrically, the songs on La Raza don’t glamorize keg parties and girls gone wild, no way, this is Armored Saint. With a glance and a nod to some Old School tendencies that can never be shaken off, (thank God for that), Armored Saint fuses their traditional Heavy Metal approach with oozing relevancy.
La Raza could very well be “that album” that captures the mood and attitude of the 1980’s metalheads that still wear their Heavy Metal hearts on their sleeves in 2010. Armored Saint may come across as mature, only the hardness of their musical roots shines through with decadent streams of heaviness on La Raza. Chilled is one amazingly cool song that radiates this mature ideal… both lyrically and musically. I personally have chosen “Chilled” to be my pick for Heavy Metal song of the year, one that should be played loud while taking a long Summer nights drive with the windows down.
The song “La Raza” reminds fans like me, that Armored Saint has not lost a step in their Heavy Metal beat. Guitarists Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan not only compliment each other, they streamline the identifiable sound that makes Armored Saint heavy in the first place. Melodic is this entire La Raza album, with multi flashes of thunderous outbursts coming from the bass lines of Joey Vera and the ultra solid drumming of Gonzo Sandoval. John Bush vocally sounds refreshed and driven… on every song.
An Old School retreat of a song like “Get Off The Fence” only embellishes La Raza all the more with its standout quality of songs. The guitar solo, multi licks and backing vocals on “Get Off The Fence” brings back memories as to why I got hooked on Traditional Heavy Metal in the first place. “Black Feet” alone can stand on its own Heavy Metal feet, (no pun intended), with its strategically placed slow tempos that cave into some seriously heavy grooves. “Left Hook From Right Field” takes its stab at 100% proof Heavy Metal and succeeds with its unforgettable riffs, leads and hooks… and John Bush singing lights out.
Heavy Metal purists should find themselves embarrassed, if they are to turn a deaf ear to this Armored Saint accomplishment of an album. Armored Saint and La Raza would be a listening requirement, mandated by me… if Heavy Metal was the law. Regardless of my wishful thinking, let La Raza engulf your ears soon, you don’t want to miss out on one gem of a Heavy Metal album… that 2010 and beyond has to offer.
Rating: Out of 10
1. Loose Cannon
2. Head On
3. Left Hook from Right Field
4. Get Off the Fence
6. La Raza
7. Black Feet
8. Little Monkey
10. Bandit Country
Armored Saint is:
John Bush – vocals
Jeff Duncan – guitar
Joey Vera – bass
Phil Sandoval – guitar
Gonzo Sandoval – drums