Veteran hard rock band Armored Saint’s latest full-length LP Win Hands Down is a rather aptly titled release. That is because the recently released album does indeed win hands down. That is obvious from the album’s full throttle hard rock anthem of an opener to the more socially conscious commentary of ‘That Was Then, Way Back Then,’ to the old school hard rock throwback that closes out the album in ‘Up Yours,’ Every one of the tracks on this record show in their own way what makes this seventh full-length release from Armored Saint some of its best work to date and one of the best of this year’s hard rock and metal field.
Win Hands Down proves from beginning to end in its latest full-length release that the almost hour-long album is one of the best of this year’s hard rock and metal field. From beginning to end, the band keeps hard rock and metal purists with a brand of rock that seemed all but extinct nowadays. That is made clear right from the album’s full throttle opener and title track. Both lyrically and musically, this song shows itself to be a pure throwback to everything that once made hard rock and metal great. The driving dual guitar attack of Jeff Duncan and Phil Sandoval coupled with drummer Gonzo Sandoval’s equally solid, up-tempo time keeping in this song instantly conjures thoughts of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and so many other legendary acts of that ilk. Front man John Bush adds even more to that with his powerhouse vocals as he sings, “This is an ode to all my old buddies/The ones that helped me realize when s*** was funny/Cut our teeth/A kick in the a**/Tackling life there’s just one chance/Mischief makers p*** some off/Deal with consequences or not/Roaming the city/Eyes open wide/Every adversary is urged to hide.” Not only does Bush actually sing his way through the verse (and the rest of the album’s songs), but he also makes no bones about the song’s subject material. The song is a tribute to his old childhood friends and those of his band mates. That is made even clearer as he sings in the song’s second verse, “Like some royal decree/A verbal contract/You’re with me/And man I got your back/Seeking adventure every which way/Knowing full well there may be hell to pay/Adolescence in full swing/A booming voice we’re gonna bring/So much that this platoon can do/Bread and circus is the rule.” The line in which Bush notes “Adolescence in full swing” makes the strongest argument about the song’s topic. Coupled with the rest of the song’s lyrical content, audiences get a picture of a group of friends simply going out and enjoying life and all that it brings good or bad. Such a concept seems rare in today’s hard rock and metal communities. Because it seems to be so rare, it makes the combination of the song’s lyrics and its now almost celebratory musical content a whole that proves to be one of the best hard rock anthems to come along in a long time.
‘Win Hands Down’ is one of the best hard rock anthems to come along in a very long time. Being the opening track to Armored Saint’s new album, it is also a clear example of what makes the band’s latest full-length effort one of the best of this year’s new hard rock and metal records. The record’s seemingly socially conscious midpoint ‘That Was Then, Way Back Then’ is another example of what makes Win Hands Down work so well. Much as with the album’s opener this song also can be argued to be another throwback to a great era of rock. The argument is supported through the song’s musical content. Yet again, Bush actually sings his way through the song. Even better, audiences can actually understand what Bush is saying as he makes his way through the song. On a related note, Bush’s band mates give the song a certain attitude for lack of better wording thanks to their combined talents. This is very important when taking note of the song’s lyrical content. The lyrical content in question comes across, as previously noted, as a social commentary of sorts with Bush singing, “I drift on back a couple of decades/And regress to a time when I was king/The future seems so uncertain/But the past is a place I could do anything/Give me a phone call/Send me a text/I even gave you/Your own unique ring. This verse within itself paints a damning picture of someone that is extremely full of himself or herself and who would much rather live in the past than the present. This argument is solidified even more as Bush sings in the song’s opening verse, “I’m taking a walk to the neighborhood psychic/Want to find out what’s in store for the day/Got all my pictures strewn across Facebook/Want to be liked in a desperate way/I market myself/It’s a foregone conclusion/I dish out winks in this busy foray.” Yet again, Bush paints a picture of someone that seems to be entirely wrapped up in his or her own self-importance. Everyone out there knows someone just like the figure portrayed here. The musical content exhibited in the song accents the mindset of said person expertly with its tone and its energy. Both elements combined, they show exactly why this song is yet another impressive addition to a record that is, once again, one of the band’s best records to date and one of the best of this year’s hard rock and metal field.
‘Win Hands Down’ and ‘That Was Then, Way Back When’ are both prime examples of why audiences new and old alike will enjoy Armored Saint’s latest full-length effort. While they both serve as excellent examples of what makes Win Hands Down such a solid record, they are hardly the only positives exhibited in this record. The album’s closer ‘Up Yours’ puts the exclamation point on the statement made throughout the album’s nearly hour-long run time. In terms of its musical content, the song’s tone and its energy does an impressive job of illustrating the thought patter and tension in the song’s speaker. Bush adds to that depth with his own vocal delivery style as he sings, “Seems to be a delusion of grandeur/A twisted f***ed up matter/A distorted sense of wrong and right/And that aint right/Got your app with the police scanner/Mapped out daily planner/And the krav maga trainer in case of a fight.” This verse alone paints quite the picture. It paints a picture of someone who perhaps isn’t necessarily firing on all eight cylinders. That argument is strengthened as he sings earlier in the song, “A stroll in the park can be a moment of zen/But you lurking in the dark/Begging to be my friend/Can really rub/Rub me the wrong way/Following my tracks is what you do/Although I never remember ever giving a clue/Or a hint or a blatant come with me.” This verse makes the picture of the subject’s object of hatred even richer. It reveals that person to be someone that is quite gone for lack of better wording. Bush’s speaker here is going after that person, letting him or her know in no uncertain terms just how messed up in the head he or she is. Again, the musical side of this song puts the finishing touch on that statement. Both elements together make ‘Up Yours’ just as perfect of a closer as the album’s title track is as an opening number. It puts the final touch on the statement that, as already noted earlier, Win Hands Down Wins Hands Down. Whether for this song,the album’s opener, its seemingly socially conscious midpoint, or for any of the remaining half-dozen tracks that round out the record, all nine tracks together make Win Hands Down one of the best of this year’s hard rock and metal field.
Win Hands Down is Armored Saint’s best work to date in the veteran hard rock band’s now three decades-plus together. The nine track, fifty-one minute record is unlike so much of what is currently being offered to the hard rock and metal legions around the world today. It is a tribute to all that once made hard rock and metal great. That is made clear through the album’s full-throttle opener and title tracks, its seemingly socially conscious midpoint, and its equally solid closer ‘Up Yours.’ All three songs show in their own way just why Win Hands Down…welll wins hands down. They are just a small sample of what makes this record such a hit, too. The remaining half-dozen tracks not noted here could just as easily be argued as prime examples of what makes Win Hands Down so enjoyable. All things considered Win Hands Down shows in the end to be a record that every hard rock and metal purist will enjoy and should have in his or her own music library. That is because it does in fact win hands down. The band is currently touring in support of Win Hands Down. It is scheduled to perform live at this year’s annual Wacken Open Air Festival next Friday, July 31st. Fans can check out the band’s latest tour dates and get all of the latest news from the band online now at:
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