Armored Saint - Win Hands Down review


61 users:
Band: Armored Saint
Album: Win Hands Down
Release date: May 2015

01. Win Hands Down
02. Mess
03. An Exercise In Debauchery
04. Muscle Memory
05. That Was Then, Way Back When
06. With A Full Head Of Steam
07. In An Instant
08. Dive
09. Up Yours

Armored Saint have had a fairly liminal existence for a while now. After the untimely death of guitarist Dave Pritchard in 1990 and the subsequent release of showstopper Symbol Of Salvation, the band slowly ground to a halt; John Bush got tapped by Anthrax to replace Joey Belladonna, Joey Vera became involved with both Fates Warning AND Arch/Matheos, and Armored Saint fell by the wayside. Now, after a few attempts and a lot of stalling, it seems like they are finally back.

Win Hands Down makes the years disappear, blowing right past 2010's lackluster La Raza and 2000's Revelation into the heart of Armored Saint's glory days. The title track bristles with the kind of confidence and raw energy that have been missing from the heavy metal scene for so long - the kind that only a muscle-bound, no-nonsense, heavy-metal-in-the-biblical-sense band like Armored Saint can provide. John Bush's voice has only toughened with age. He doesn't shoot for the high notes as often, but he never wavers and never loses an ounce of power; he roars every word like a tiger. Bush sings like he's in a street fight, and he only gets more dangerous with each passing year. With Joey Vera's flying fingers dominating the low end with expert bass work, the rhythm section fully backs up every threat made by the other half.

Armored Saint have always separated themselves from the pack mainly through their knack for songwriting and their bare-knuckled attitude. Win Hands Down reflects these strengths as they were best expressed 30 years ago, with songs that fight much harder to distinguish themselves and a genuine sense of triumph in every note. La Raza had its strengths, but in light of this new album, it becomes clear just how much the band needed a real shot in the arm - and, whatever that was, they sure as hell got it since then, because Win Hands Down comfortably surpasses it in every department. It isn't perfect, and the band still have some loosening and tightening to do before they recapture the full effect of Delirious Nomad or Symbol Of Salvation, but tracks like "With A Full Head Of Steam" and "An Exercise In Debauchery" demonstrate that they are closer than they have ever been.

Armored Saint have been "back" for a while now in the sense that they presently exist and occasionally release new material, but Win Hands Down brings them "back" to operational strength and sets them on the track they strayed from so long ago. If they had some kind of a greater comeback strategy in mind, this album could very well be their launching pad.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 10
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 7


Written on 14.07.2015 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments: 5   Visited by: 91 users
14.07.2015 - 17:32
Bad English
Win Hands Down - maybe best song band ever has written , I like opening part in that song
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
15.07.2015 - 22:46
I am loving this album very much, but would like to make one clarification.........Revelation was an AWESOME album. The band plays several cuts from that album to this day & there is a good reason why.
Now, back to this beast of an album...yes, it really does get back to the basics for the band & it sounds completely natural for them. My only minor disappointment is the fact the title track is the may be one of the greatest songs the band has ever written & probably should have been saved for the LAST cut or somewhere in the middle of the album. I'll report back later in September after seeing them play at Prog Power USA this year as I suspect they are going to tear the roof off the place.

As always, a fair & insightful review .
19.07.2015 - 23:25
Giant robot
Always a pleasure to read you, even if I don't care about the bands, SickeningSiphiliticUS. Proud of this one
20.07.2015 - 00:30
Written by Ilham on 19.07.2015 at 23:25

Always a pleasure to read you, even if I don't care about the bands, SickeningSiphiliticUS. Proud of this one

The feeling is mutual, Willham the Conqueror.
Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
16.10.2015 - 03:14
What a well-named album. It's definitely a WIN. Hands down

What a surprise. I pretty much went into this knowing I was NOT going to like it, expecting derivative, tired, throwback heavy metal. I am so happy to say I was wrong about this. Energy to spare and kick-ass tunes.

I agree completely with your rating. The album is very good; though it doesn't quite reach the holy 8 mark, it's still very awesome with fun replay value.

Though... there are a few lyrics that are just hilariously bad. As in... I can't tell if they were SUPPOSED to be funny. Either way, they're awkwardly bad. The worst is the ballad "Dive" that starts with a slow and tenderly sung, "The perfect chair / to park my derriere." WHAA?? Huh?? I mean.. it rhymes, sure, but... dafuq?
"A life all mine
Is what I choose
At the end of my days"
--The Gathering "A Life All Mine" from Souvenirs

Hits total: 4779 | This month: 14