Sunday Old School: Armored Saint
Often in the Sunday Old School articles, we tend to focus on the sub-genres of heavy metal such as thrash, death and black metal, amongst others. This week we take a look at a great example of traditional heavy metal in the form of California's Armored Saint. Armored Saint was formed in 1982 by brothers Phil and Gonzo Sandoval, who played guitar and drums respectively,along with friend Dave Prichard who also played guitar, whilst students at South Pasadena High School. Soon after their formation the band recruited bass player Joey Vera and lead singer John Bush. The name of the band was suggested by Gonzo while the band were watching the movie Excalibur and a five song demo was recorded not long afterwards, that included the song, "Lesson Well Learned," which was featured on the Metal Massacre II compilation. After releasing a self-titled EP through Metal Blade Records in 1983, the band signed to Chrysalis Records the next year. Their debut album, "March Of The Saint" was released that year and earned the band a minor hit with the song, "Can U Deliver?," as well as critical praise. A second album entitled, "Delirious Nomad" was released in 1985 and, like the first album, earned the band critical acclaim.
Soon after the release of "Delirious Nomad," Phil Sandoval decided to quit the band, leaving Armored Saint has a four-piece. The quartet began work on their next studio album, which resulted in 1987's "Raising Fear." The album did not sit as well with critics as the past two albums had and many believed that Phil Sandoval's exit had shaken the band's confidence. The album did however garner the band another minor hit with the song, "Isolation." After "Raising Fear" was released, a live album named, "Saints Will Conquer" hit the shelves the next year but sadly these would be the final albums to feature guitarist Dave Prichard. Although Prichard participated in the writing and demoing of their next album, he unfortunately passed away from leukemia during the sessions. The resulting album, "Symbol Of Salvation" was released in 1991 and used the guitar solo Prichard recorded for the song, "Tainted Past." The album also featured the return of Phil Sandoval, as well as new guitarist Jeff Duncan. The record was seen as a return to form and perhaps their best yet by critics and fans alike but ultimately the band were unsure of a future without Prichard. During this period of uncertainty, John Bush was asked by Anthrax if he would be interested in becoming their new vocalist, replacing the recently departed Joey Belladonna. Bush's decision to accept the job proved to be the final straw for Armored Saint and they decided to call it a day. During the band's inactivity, other members kept themselves busy with various musical proects. Bassist Joey Vera found success as a producer, whilst also performing in bands such as Fates Warning and Lizzy Borden and the Sandoval brothers formed a new band together entitled Life After Death, which was more inspired by the likes of Thin Lizzy than the heavy metal influences of Armored Saint.
In 1999, during a peroid of inactivity for Anthrax, John Bush and Joey Vera decided to reform Armored Saint and reunited the "Symbol Of Salvation" lineup for a new album, which would come to frution in 2000 when the band released, "Revelation." Critics were unsure of the album but many fans welcomed it with open arms. The band supported the album by touring with the likes of Dio and Lynch Mob on a small club tour and celebrated their history the next year by releasing a compilation album entitled, "Nod To The Old School." The reunion proved to be short lived however, as Anthrax returned to the studio to record a new album, bringing John Bush with them. In 2004, Joey Vera joined John Bush in Anthrax for a brief period when it was announced that he had replaced bassist Frankie Bello. Vera made his only recording with Anthrax on the compilation album, "The Greater Of Two Evils," which was a collection of re-recordings the band had made of their classic songs while Neil Turbin and Joey Belladonna were in the band. This would also prove to be the final Anthrax album with John Bush, as guitarist Scott Ian announced that Anthrax would be reuniting their "Among The Living" lineup in 2005. With no Anthrax restricting them, Bush and Vera put the "Revelation" lineup back together for a one off show in 2005 and a European tour in 2006. The band since continued to perform sporadic shows, and eventually decided to record a brand new album, which was finally released in 2010 under the name, "La Raza." The band are currently appearing infrequently at festivals as well as embarking on short tours to support the reunion and new album, with the cutback in touring owing to John Bush wanting to spend time with his family. It seems this will be the pattern the band follows in the future, meaning a new album in a few years time will certainly not be out of the question and fans have not yet lost the chance to see them live.
Armored Saint - Can U Deliver
Armored Saint - Reign Of Fire
Armored Saint - Isolation
Armored Saint - Left Hook From Right Field
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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