CD review ARMORED SAINT ‘Punching the Sky’

The question, Armored Saint already asked on their debut is ‘Can U Deliver’. From that moment on the band from Los Angeles, California answered it with a bold YES with every release they unleashed. There was no bad or average Armored Saint album. The quintet forge excellent heavy metal anthems that are as great as they are timeless. No hiatus, no trend and no hype could stop this power engine and even the tragic loss of guitarist Dave Prichard in 1990 didn’t mean the end of the band.

A success factor of Armored Saint is the rather consistent line-up. In a world of fast changes these metal veterans can build on a longtime relationship, helping to be very well attuned.

The announcement of a new Armored Saint album was a light of ray in the dark days of pandemic. Expectations are sky-high, knowing Armored Saint’s back catalog and what to say, Armored Saint deliver.

‘Punching the Sky’ is the title of album number eight, a thirteen songs featuring journey through the greatness of heavy metal. Each of the five guys is a master when it comes to their instrument, which is just half of the win. What equally counts is the tight way of playing together and being on the same musical mission, or in other word – being a band. Armored Saint has both aspects deeply rooted in the band’s DNA.

‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ is the perfect chosen start into album. Starting slow and a bit mystic, the song gains heaviness on the way, becoming a smashing Armored Saint hymn with an irresistible chorus. The giant awoke.

Nothing on this album challenges your attention span, also not ‘End of the Attention Span’. The song’s another anthemic metal tune that leads to ‘Bubble’. The sound of a hammer hitting the anvil starts a song that’s slower and darker compared to the first two tunes, which adds to the good flow of the album.

Joey Vera’s bass starts ‘My Jurisdiction’ and traditional metal is offered by ‘Do Wrong to None’. Gonzo Sandoval provides the strong heartbeat of this song ,with an hypnotic guitar riff that is build on it. “Lone Wolf’ is next, a bit slower and a bit calmer too. The chorus is big here.

Armored Saint shift gears with the uptempo ‘Missile to Gun’ and moves on towards the emotionally deep ‘Fly in the Ointment’. ‘Bark No Bite’ is a good song on an album filled with excellent tracks before ‘Unfair’ starts and reflects a different side of Armored Saint. A lot of atmosphere and bigger soundscapes characterize this very soulful songs. Although building up towards the end, the general pattern doesn’t get lost throughout. It’s a wow-moment on ‘Punching the Sky’. 50 mintes after having pressed the start -button, it’s the galloping ‘Never You Fret’ that represents the closing of the album. The band finish-off with another timeless metal track, being the grande finale of a stellar album.

‘Punching the Sky’ is done with a steelworker approach rather than being a Houdini show. There are no tricks or false bottom. Armored Saint and ‘Punching the Sky’ is real and authentic from start to finish. The band successfully lift the bar that was already on a very high level. ‘Punching the Sky’ is a clear candidate for becoming ‘Album of the Year’.

Rating: 10 out of 10.

Tracklist:

  1. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
  2. End of the Attention Pan
  3. Bubble
  4. My Jurisdiction
  5. Do Wrong to None
  6. Lone Wolf
  7. Missile to Gun
  8. Fly in the Ointment
  9. Bark No Bite
  10. Unfair
  11. Never You Fret

Label: Metal Blade Records

Genre: Heavy Metal

Release Date EU: October 23rd, 2020

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