Games Meet Metal: Feeling The Old School: Armored Saint's La Raza: The Riff Review

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Feeling The Old School: Armored Saint's La Raza: The Riff Review

Armored Saint is one of those bands that just totally missed my radar in my early metal days. Odd, since their live act consisted of lead singer John Bush, clad in armor, doing a sword battle with another armor-wearing baddie before the music kicked in. Since this was the late 80's/early 90's, I should of been all in that shit. I was already doing that stuff for pretend while playing old school Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy, so to see a "real" battle in front of me would of been tits. Instead, Armored Saint dissolved when John left to join Anthrax, and the band's name suffered from a severe case of Flotsam & Jetsam syndrome. In other words, they became the answer to the oft-asked trivia question, "What band was John Bush in before he left for Anthrax?"

In recent years, the Saint have regrouped and releases a full length (2000's Revelation), a rarities collection, and the occasional dvd.  It was the rarities and dvd's that finally pulled me into their gauntlet-wearing hands. Now they are back again with La Raza, a slab of awesome 80's metal from a band that actually is from the 80's and not a bunch of kids just imitating their heroes. Sorry to bands like Municipal Waste and Warbringer, but sometimes the best stuff comes straight from the fore bearers themselves.

The best way to describe La Raza's sound would be to take 80's Testament but let Alex Skolnick turn the blues up a lot more than he does already. This thing is just dripping with blues-related hooks all through, which might deter some of the Saint's older fans. But don't let the fear of slight experimentation scare you away. There's still plenty of old school riffs and guitar solos to satisfy your aging eardrums. Special attention should be given to album closer Bandit Country, which combines the old metal and the blues the best. that, and it has just such a dman catchy guitar intro.

The downside to the blues aspect is that the slower tracks tend to be a little too bluesy. As such, they make the songs last way too long in between the rocking good ones. Track number five, "Chilled", is a prime victim of this. It's a fine enough rock song, but sounds like it would be better as a b-side than a main album track.

Final verdict: if you're looking for innovation, go buy a Meshuggah or Tool record. Armored Saint are not out to push boundaries, but are comfortable right where they're at. Maybe a little to bluesy on a track or two, but La Raza will have you thinking of the old school of metal again. Now, how about doing a tour through Detroit, huh guys? Oh, and bring the armor plz k thx! Grade: Rippin!

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