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Album Reviews : Armored Saint – La Raza

By on March 22, 2010

armored saint_la_raza_coverWhile not the highest profile reunion John Bush has been a part of in the last couple of years, Los Angeles’ Armored Saint return to the fold after 8 years of in-activity. While seen today as somewhat of a footnote on the history of Thrash Metal – due in part because their un-timely break-up – Armored Saint carved a different niche than most of their mid/late-80’s peers, by combining the more European style sounds of Iron Maiden and Scorpions into their American hard rock influences. Worth also noting is the desire that Metallica had to hire John Bush as their vocalist, even after the release of ‘Tallica’s debut album Kill ‘em All.

La Raza, Spanish for “The People”, is the band’s first full-length in 10 years, and despite the absence of the band, they’ve delivered an album which will satisfy the older fans of the band, while also having strong possibilities of attracting a younger audience – with the mix between old-school and more modern hard rock/metal stirred to perfection.

A suitably epic build-up of nylon guitars and string sections welcomes the listener to the album opener “Loose Cannon”. As the song turns into a straight-ahead rocker, it’s obvious that John Bush’s powerful voice has lost none of its power. “Head On” starts with an Iron Maiden guitar-harmony section, showing off the understated guitar duo of Jeff Duncan and Phil Sandoval. Morphing into a mid-tempo Ozzy-esque riffer, the muscular middle-section is bolstered by the particularly solid half-time groove. “Left Hook from Right Field” is another fantastic tune, with a strong riffs and a catchy as hell chorus, as well as thought provoking lyrics.

Interestingly, many of the songs show off the band’s somewhat surprisingly eclectic sound; the title track starts off like a Santana number, with Latin percussion all around, before launching into a massive heavy, yet bluesy, riff. “Black Feet” continues the outside influences trend, by introducing an acoustic-blues element while “Bandit Country” has almost a Primus style funky, angular riff. Probably the only negative aspect of the record is the slightly flat production, with the guitar parts sometimes getting lost in the mix.

La Raza probably won’t receive wide-spread hysteria from the metal community when it’s released – but regardless of that, Armored Saint have written a powerful comeback album and has the potential to finally get the wider rock society to stand up and take notice. However, with the strong likely-hood of John Bush returning to Anthrax in the very near future, will The Saint’s reunion be short lived? If so, you couldn’t ask for a more fitting epitaph. 8/10

Band: Armored Saint
Album: La Raza
Year: 2010
Genre: Heavy Metal/Hard Rock
Origin: Los Angeles, USA
Label: Metal Blade/Riot! Entertainment

Track listing:
1. Loose Cannon
2. Head On <- Reviewers Choice
3. Left Hook From Right Field <- Reviewers Choice
4. Get Off The Fence
5. Chill
6. La Raza <- Reviewers Choice
7. Black Feet
8. Little Monkey
9. Blues
10. Bandit Country


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.