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(Heavy Metal) ARMORED SAINT - Punching The Sky album review

October 23, 2020 (Metal Blade)

Almost 40 years into their musical career, California's Armored Saint are back with their eighth full length release. In an era where metal is subdivided into ever more distinct sub-genres, these boys remain true to their traditional metal roots. The fact that four of five members playing on this album were also present on their first album (the fifth having died) is a testament to the bands' stability and focus on their purpose.

What they have presented metal fans with here is, for the most part, trad metal at its best. Lead vocalist John Bush's vocals are as strong as they were back in the day on this outing. He sings it clean, but there is enough gravel in his voice to make it interesting, and make it metal.

The production is first rate, with Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan's guitars, Joey Vera's bass and Gonzo Sadoval's drums all coming through with perfectly discernible clarity. All of the band members perform flawlessly and with gusto, as one would expect of veterans with four decades of experience.

The first half of the album will get any metal head's attention and approval with half a dozen strong entries including "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants", "End of the Attention Span", "Bubble" and "Missile to Gun". However, there is a bit of a lull in the intensity and the writing quality for a three or four songs thereafter. The lesser songs such as "Fly in the Ointment" and "Unfair" aren't bad, and in fact, they started growing on this reviewer after a few listens, but there is no denying there is a dip in quality before the band recovers for the strong closer "Never You Fret".

All in all, Armored Saint have come up with an entry into their catalog that they can be proud of and that fans of traditional metal can (and should) embrace.



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