Confession time: John Bush was my gateway drug into the world of Anthrax. My musical awakening hit around the mid-’90’s where the Big Four was at a crossroads and, in the case of NYC’s resident Thrash titans, going through a major personnel overhaul as well as a musical one. As I got older I appreciated the old stuff but Bush will always be my guy and underrated albums like Volume 8: The Threat Is Real still stand the test of time and remain in my regular rotation to this day.
But I digress.
Today, we’re talking about the band that came before and survived beyond Bush’s Anthrax years. Celebrating nearly forty years as a Metal force, Armored Saint return with a crushing new record that captures everything that’s been a cornerstone to the AS legacy while proving why they are still one of the most potent and relevant artists in the scene today.
As an opener, “Standing on the Shoulder of Giants” is this elegant mammoth-sized Metal epic. For me, it’s like the Volume 8 turned up to 11 beginning with some worldly sounds transporting listeners to the Highlands like this tasty crust on a pie before a yummy filling that’s a straight up shredder led by Bush’s uncanny pipes. And that will be the end of our food references in this review. Thanks for bearing with us.
“End of the Attention Span” is equally shreddy and riffy and all the guitar things with Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan’s instruments fusing to become this sonic force while Gonzo Sandoval’s ecstatic performance practically leaps out of the speakers as he pounds away on the kit.
“Bubble” is this mechanical masterpiece, calculated and crunchy with Bush’s voice creating yet another memorable anthem and then bassist Joey Vera’s rumbling tones lead the charge for “My Jurisdiction” which benefits from a sweet synchronous Groove when that bass mixes it up with Sandoval’s drums.
“Do Wrong to None” is a heavy stomper with militaristic beats and razor sharp riffage and later, “Lone Wolf” is a driving little ditty that’ll be the earworm to end all earworms while “Fly in the Ointment” is another twin guitar attack from Sandoval and Duncan accented by Gonzo’s cavernous drum sounds.
Born out of the ’80’s, it’s obvious that there’ll be some throwback feels in the AS DNA which comes out in force for the the glorious nod that is “Missile to Gun” with Sandoval and Duncan crafting their guitar lines around Bush’s barked vocals. Similarly, “Bark, No Bite” is a masterful regression to that era with its’ glistening guitar tones throughout.
“Unfair”, however, is a moody Armored Saint romp through the here and now which builds towards a staggering crescendo that peaks and perpetually wrecks expectations from the combined might of Bush, Sandoval, Vera, Duncan, and Sandoval. Closing out album number eight, “Never You Fret” is a pounding conclusion kicked off by Gonzo’s American Indian flute work before ripping it up on the drums with Duncan and Sandoval’s intricate guitar lines completing the tapestry of Heavy around Vera’s bodacious bounce and Bush’s gruff cries.
Punching The Sky hits on October 23rd via Metal Blade Records. Pre-orders are up now and can be perused by clicking here or here. For the latest on Armored Saint, follow them across the socials by clicking here, here, or here.