Armored Saint is scheduled to release its next album Friday, but audiences will get to hear the album in full tonight, ahead of its release. The band made the announcement Wednesday through its official Facebook page. The stream is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m .ET through the band’s official YouTube and Twitch channels, and will feature the opportunity for audiences to chat with the band as the record streams. The 11-song record has already produced two successful singles, each of which proves in its own way, why audiences will enjoy the album. While the noted singles do paint a positive picture for Armored Saint’s new album, the record is sadly not a perfect presentation. Its overall pacing proves somewhat problematic. Thankfully that aspect is not enough to make the record a failure. The album’s production counters the noted concern. When this is considered along with the positive that is the overall musical arrangements, they make this record still a positive new offering from one of the greatest bands in the history of hard rock and metal.
Punching The Sky, the eighth album from veteran hard rock band Armored Saint is an interesting new offering from the band. It is a record that while enjoyable, is imperfect. Audiences will be glad to know that even with that in mind, the album boasts more positives than negatives, not the least of which is its musical arrangements. The arrangements that are featured in this album are solid hard rock arrangements from one to the next. Both of the singles that the record has produced serve clearly to support that statement. They are just some of the songs that serve that purpose, too. ‘My Jurisdiction,’ which comes early in the album’s run, stands on its own merits. The heavy, blues-based and guitar-driven arrangement here is so infectious and unlike anything else on the album. The early 90s hard rock influences are just as prominent throughout the work as are the more modern hard rock sounds. On another note (no pun intended) ‘Bark, No Bite,’ which comes late in the record’s run, is another standout addition to the album. The song is surefire favorite for any guitar rock purist. There are influences of the vintage guitar rock sounds of the 80s alongside some 70s rock influence. The result is an arrangement that is just as possible as a single as any of the album’s other entries. It is hardly the last of the songs that can be used to show the importance of the record’s arrangements. ‘Never You Fret,’ which closes out the album, is another powerful entry. The full, rich sound from the guitar, bass, and drums is a full-on modern hard rock style composition. Oddly enough, a close listen reveals a little bit of a jam band type of influence here, too. The whole of these influences makes the song in whole just as solid a closer for the album as ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ is an opener. Now while the songs noted here join with the album’s singles and the rest of its works to clearly show the power of the record’s arrangements, the arrangements do bring about at least one notable concern, that being the album’s overall pacing.
Bassist Joey Vera said in a recent interview that the run times of the songs featured in Punching The Sky are shorter than those of the album’s predecessor, Win Hands Down. “I would have to say that this time, I was conscious about making the songs a little more to the point than the previous record,” he said. “As a result, most of the songs are a little shorter in length than they are on Win Hands Down (2015). ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ being an exception at almost seven minutes!” Even with the shorter run times, the songs still suffer somewhat from a concern of pacing. ‘Lone Wolf’ for example clocks in at just under four-and-a-half minutes (4:19 to be exact), but even at that time, there is something about the band’s approach here that makes the song feel like it runs five minutes in length, if not longer. That is even with the song being a mid-tempo composition. ‘Unfair’ by comparison, feels extra long, too. Its run time is listed at four minutes, four seconds. However, the slow, brooding nature in the song’s arrangement makes that run time feel stretched out even more. Much the same can be said of the album’s other entries. While the barely top the five-minute mark at their longest (with the exception of the one noted song from Vera), the songs each feel longer than they actually are. Maybe that is the result in how they were composed. Maybe it has to do with the songs’ energies. Maybe it is both. Regardless, this one aspect detracts from the record’s overall presentation. Luckily, the impact that this element has is not enough to make the album a failure. The record’s production couples with the songs to make up for that aspect of the songs’ pacing.
The production presented in Punching The Sky is positive in that it clearly take into account everything that goes on in each of the album’s songs and balances each arrangement expertly. Each song is loud and bombastic, save for ‘Unfair.’ The songs liken themselves to the best works of Judas Priest with their ferocity. That means that the guitars are full throttle and the bass and time keeping are just as strong in their own right. The vocals offer their own impact along with the instrumentation of each song. Considering how much is going on in each of the songs, it would have been so easy for each part to overpower the other. Thankfully, those behind the glass did not allow that to happen. The guitars are right there with the vocals, and even just below, allowing the vocals to be understood just enough while also allowing the guitars to shine. At the same time, the harmonies created through the bass are just subtle enough but also just audible enough. Meanwhile the drums maintain each song’s heartbeat, keeping everybody together without overpowering any of the other parts. The result is a presentation that sounds just as good aesthetically as it does in terms of its overall presentation. When this is considered along with the album’s one negative point, the whole of Punching The Sky proves itself a strong, successful new offering from one of the most respected names in rock and metal.
Armored Saint’s new album Punching The Sky is a positive new effort from the band. That is despite at least one noticeable kink it its own armor. The record’s arrangements are in themselves just as powerful as ever. They bring in influences from the 70s, 80s and even 90s for a whole presentation that will appeal to longtime audiences and those less familiar with the band and its catalog. The production of those arrangements adds even more appeal to the record. That is because it led to the band members’ respective parts balancing out expertly from beginning to end. These two elements together make up at least to a point for the record’s one negative, its overall pacing. The pacing is worth noting in that as powerful as the songs are and as good as they sound, they do generally feel longer than they actually are. Even with that in mind, the record is not a failure. Rather, it is a work that is still worth hearing occasionally. It will certainly still have listeners punching their fists to the sky when they do take it in. Punching The Sky is scheduled for release Friday.
More information on Punching The Sky is available online along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:
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