Armored Saint lived up to its name in the heady and early days of Los Angeles. Swords and axes ruled on stage and the group had a different logo with old English lettering, but surprisingly and well before big names like Anthrax and Metallica, a major label came a knockin' and the Saints went a marchin' to Chrysalis. Vera was originally a guitarist, but had switched to bass out of necessity and because he felt his fingers were too fat. His bass guitar had actually belonged to Jon Bush. Unfortunately, a major label didn't mean success, as Chrysalis was lost at the hows of promoting a metal band. The band did not tour internationally for years and the momentum was lost. Bush had, in the meanwhile, rejected Metallica's offer for him to take over the role of a frontman with the thrashers. When Prichard sadly succumbs to leukemia in 1990, the band finished Symbol Of Salvation and split up, but not before touring in Europe with Scorpions. The song Tainted Past featured a solo by Prichard lifted off a demo. Bush accepted Anthrax's offer to join and departed the fold. Vera, whose wife worked at Metal Blade, remained musically involved with several Metal Blade bands. Years later with the Anthrax members off on a SOD reunion, the Saint too jumped on the bandwagon and released an album of its own. Live activities were restrained though as Anthrax remained Bush's main priority. 2001 brought a sampler of the band called Nod To T he Old School which featured old, new and unreleased material. Armored Saint also reissued A Trip Thru Red Times video as a DVD full of extra material in 2003. Singer John Bush landed a gig doing voiceover work in commercials for Burger King in 2006 – ironic for an ex-Anthrax man. The band played at Rocklahoma Festival in 2008. To commemorate the band’s first tour of Australia Metal Blade was issuing a sampler of the band called 2009 Australian Tour Compilation. Metal Blade’s Armored Saint was at the Tranzformer Studio in Burbank, California in late 2009 recording a full-length album. The band was working with Bryan Carlstrom, while bassist Joey Vera was producing. The album was expected in March of 2010. John Bush had also returned to Anthrax after the firing of the New Yorkers latest singer. Armored Saint completed work on its newest, album, La Raza (The Race) in 2010. Metal Blade Records was due to issue it in March, 2010. The band was playing New York for the first time in 20 years on November 30th and December 3rd, 2011 at Amityville and NYC respectively. The first EP from Los Angeles’ Armored Saint would be reissued on August 13th, 2012 through Metal Blade Records with bonus tracks and etching on vinyl. The band was touring Europe. Agent Steel guitarist Juan Garcia joined Armored Saint on stage at Metal Blade Record's 30-anniversary show on November 30th, 2012 at the House Of Blues in West Hollywood, California. Armored Saint signed a new deal with Metal Blade Records for the release of the band's next album, which was due in 2015. Song titles include An Exercise In Debauchery, Mess, Up Yours and In An Instant. Saxon and Armored Saint announced a tour in the U.S.A for May 2015. The latter band would be supporting a new album. Armored Saint and Metal Church toured the USA west coast in the summer of 2016. Armored Saint guitarist Phil Sandoval was not playing at the band's German festival appearances in August 2016 as he and his girlfriend were expecting their first child. Matt Price from Behold! The Monolith stepped in. Armored Saint signed with PledgeMusic for an upcoming live album called Carpe Noctum. Mort recently, the band’s drummer Gonzo came out in support of establishment candidate, billionaire elitist Donald Trump in the USA election. Armored Saint embarked on a North American tour commemorating the Symbol Of Salvation album of 1991 in the summer of 2018. The group would play a live record release concert for its new album, Punching The Sky, on Saturday, October 10th 2020 at 1 pm PST. The gang would be performing at the Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, California. Armored Saint’s 2018 show playing the Symbol Of Salvation album in its entirety at the Gramercy Theatre in New York City was released later as a DVD in 2021. It was mastered by Joey Vera. Armored Saint, Black Label Society and Prong announced they would tour the USA in December 2021.
ARMORED SAINT – PUNCHING THE SKY – METAL BLADE
Despite being more of a project than a band these days (even though they play live), Armored Saint still finds the time to release a new album every once in a while. Punching The Sky is a good one too – possibly the best since Symbol Of Salvation. The band once had the nickname “L.A.'s most headbanging band”, something they were always proud of. Jon Bush's vocals also add a bit of an alternative vibe, which is probably something he brought back from his time with Anthrax. Anthrax also shifted towards alternative for a while, at least on Stomp 442. But about the music: Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants, for which a video was also made, is a straight opener with an intro melody that sounds like Irish folk. The first line of text is “Punching the sky every day”. End Of The Attention Span has a classic metal touch in the intro and main riff. It is reminiscent of Judas Priest. Even the vocals sound a bit like Rob Halford in his mid-level range. Bubble has a more experimental sound. My Jurisdiction begins with a Dream Theater-like intro, but changes towards a modern riff not unlike Soundgarden. Do Wrong To None, beginning with sounds from a jungle and a tin drum intro, again is a more modern song. Lone Wolf has a touch of Dokken. Missile To Gun is probably the most traditional song on the album and my personal favorite. Again, Judas Priest shines through as an influence. Fly In The Ointment has very clean vocals. Bark, No Bite has a progressive touch in the music, not unlike bassist Joey Vera's other band, Fates Warning. Jon Bush's voice makes it 100% Armored Saint, though. Unfair has an acoustic intro and remains laid-back until the end. It's the most mainstream song on the album. Surprisingly, it has not been selected for a video yet. The final song, Never You Fret, is heavier and has a touch of Jon Bush-era Anthrax. It is safe to say that the band's sound changed after the long pause between Symbol of Salvation and Revelation, but Punching The Sky is not as experimental as La Raza was and more in the style of Win Hands Down, which also was a more traditional record. Armored Saint was always a band that did not fit the U.S. power metal blueprint. They were not Queensryche, and they were not Savatage either. Jon Bush has a lot more grit in his voice than the average high-pitch vocalist found in so many other American bands of the genre. But that also made the band less popular with some old school fans. The production is excellent here. - Andreas Herzog