‘Punching the Sky’
Metal Blade Records
FFO: Metal Church, Vicious Rumors, Virgin Steele, Malice, Warrior, Riot V
Armored Saint are definitely in the list of most underrated metal bands from the 80’s. Whilst many of their peers lavished in the lap of luxury, Armored Saint consistently delivered strong albums and those in the know adored every minute of it. More recently, the band have relatively quiet releasing ‘Win Hands Down’, their last studio album back in 2015, but now, finally, the Saint are back with their hotly anticipated ‘Punching the Sky’ album.
Well, well, well, what can be said for ‘Punching…’? It has certainly been worth the wait because Armored Saint have once again delivered a storming album. While ‘Win Hands Down’ and ‘La Raza’ were on the better side of average; Armored Saint have smashed down expectations, delivering the bands best album since ‘Revelation’ or ‘Symbol of Salvation’. To achieve this, the band present an album that has a top-quality production; this is an accessible heavy metal sound that allowed every instrument to be clearly heard and digested. This production lays the stage out for John Bush to deliver a phenomenal vocal performance, showing that the man’s voice has not changed one iota since 1984. Tracks such as ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’, ‘End of the Attention Span’ and ‘Bubble’ are exceptionally memorable and hummable, even if ‘Standing…’ begins with something reminiscent of ‘Copperhead Road’ by Steve Earle! Furthermore, it is a little far too easy to sing Sabbath’s ‘Die Young’ or Maiden’s ‘Remember Tomorrow’ over the riff to ‘Fly in the Ointment’, but who cares? It’s not like Steve Harris ever ‘borrowed’ anything.
Everything about this album screams a band firing on all cylinders, from the fantastic guitar flurries and rock-solid rhythm section, to large rousing chorus’ that invoke a real sense of fist in the air pumping and ‘Punching…’ a huge step forward for Armored Saint back into the territory we know they can rule in. It is already November and what the Saint have done here is deliver an album that may be a late runner in the race, but Christ, it’s comin’ up fast; place your bets because it’s going to be a photo finish.