Showing no visible signs of wear and tear, classic Los Angeles metallers Armored Saint return with eighth studio album Punching the Sky (Metal Blade). Noted for their consistency in both output and personnel, you have to go all the way back to 1987’s Raising Fear (Chrysalis) to find a studio album with a different line-up. A surprising level of stability considering two lengthy hiatuses and the untimely death of original guitarist Dave Prichard.
Opening with Uilleann pipes, jangling open chords and rolling drums, ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ gathers in intensity before bursting into life with a Pearl Jam vibe and a flowering chorus showcasing the unmistakable vocals of the mighty John Bush. The fast-paced and authoritative ‘End of the Attention Span’ boasts a vintage metal riff, while ‘Bubble’ chugs and clangs methodically along before giving way to the powerful, bluesy groove of ‘My Jurisdiction’.
‘Do Wrong to None’ features mid-paced, Pantera-esque verses before delivering a classic sounding Saint chorus. The open and optimistic strains of ‘Lone Wolf’ help gather momentum before the energetic standout cut ‘Missile to Gun’ goes straight for the throat, Bush putting in yet another strong performance.
From there we get the slow and moody ‘Fly in the Ointment’, the punchy ’70s groove of ‘Bark, No Bite’, the atmospheric layering of ‘Unfair’, and the Indian flute, big drums and killer riffs of ‘Never You Fret’, all of which combine for a suitably powerful send-off.
Once again, the guitar duo of Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan make a formidable team, while the ever-reliable rhythm section of bassist Joey Vera and drummer Gonzo Sandoval keep things thundering along nicely. And although it might not be the band’s most accomplished work – make no mistake – there is still more than enough quality metal on Punching the Sky to keep many a fan nursing a sore neck for some time to come.
Buy the album here:https://www.metalblade.com/armoredsaint/