Armored Saint is among my most respected metal bands around right now. They’ve reached that ideal point in their career where they have a strong following, but aren’t likely to blow up to Metallica-heights, and that means the music they pump out is incredibly genuine. Their newest record, “Win Hands Down”, exemplifies this perfectly. It is true to Armored Saint’s sound, but it still shows a band willing to explore and experiment in ways that might not be a carbon copy of “March of the Saint”.
The album gets started on a strong note with the title track, and it is easily the best song. You’ll immediately notice two things with this song; the first is that John Bush is still among the best singers in all of metal. His voice can seamlessly transition between being rough around the edges, and giving a smoother performance. The other part of this song that jumps out is just how catchy the chorus is. Though the band doesn’t quite reach these heights again, it sets a good tone for the rest of the album. In fact, the superb guitar soloing in this song foreshadows the other best moments on the album. Towards the end of the record, two songs (“In An Instant” and “Up Yours”) display incredible passion through the quality and emotion of the guitar playing. Armored Saint’s guitarists absolutely let loose and the result is phenomenal.
Most of the remainder of the album can be described as solid and reliable, but unspectacular. The band is no longer at their creative peak, but they are well versed in writing memorable songs that are a lot of fun. Aside from the ballad, “Dive”, most of the songs on this album are upbeat, with quite a few riffs and solid hooks. Even when a song starts off a bit tamer (“Muscle Memory”) it eventually builds up into something more energetic. The rhythm section mostly does its job, and it allows both John Bush and the guitar playing to come to the forefront of the record. Sometimes the lyrics are a bit strange (“That Was Then, Way Back When” in particular), but with Bush’s voice, it always works.
“Win Hands Down” is not Armored Saint’s best album, but it is an incredibly enjoyable effort. The band has already cemented themselves as metal legends, and they really have nothing left to prove at this point, so they’re instead concentrated on putting out records filled with great music. There’s no denying the quality of the musicianship on this record, and the songs are also impressive. There might be the occasional twist or turn on this album that doesn’t resonate you, but overall, if you’re a fan of heavy metal, “Win Hands Down does exactly as the title states.
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"Win Hands Down"
"In An Instant"
4.25/5 or 85%.
Written by Scott