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A lot has happened to the saints since their ultimate classic album, Symbol Of Salvation. They ultimately broke up as John Bush came with the message of his leaving to Anthrax. Last decade, after almost ten years, the saints were up and running as they released a strong comeback album, which also served as a start for the new millennia, Revelation. After expecting for a new kicking revival of the saints, they broke up again, leaving with a compilation, Nod To The Old School, and a couple of DVDs from their recent shows. Not such a good goodbye from a great band is it?
When it seemed to some that the story of the saints is all but lost forever, the last break lasted for seven years. 2008 marked the emergence of yet another comeback after a reunion on Rocklahoma Festival. Afterwards, the saints were active again with the same line-up that brought Symbol Of Salvation. This year, as on 2000, the saints delivered another comeback album, La Raza. Get ready to hear Bush, Duncan, Vera and the Sandoval brothers as they have taken a different plan to find themselves again.
If anyone had a thought or craving that Armored Saint will make their new comeback piece harder, louder and faster, with regrets, you were dead wrong. La Raza is no Revelation. Armored Saint remained loyal to Traditional Heavy Metal, yet, Metal wasn’t the only genre involved on this release. La Raza will address you to a different side of Armored Saint. This side seemed like a way for the old band to search for an unusual direction. The majority the selected tracks handed to you are largely American based Hard Rock tunes than Metal. Sporadically, the saints showed that they are still a Metal band, yet, after hearing the tracks and also, what to do, judging by the album’s cover, this is not the favored saints from the 80’s (and early 90’s). Certainly it is not the early 2000 version. It’s not that the saints were succumbed by the urge of the mainstream, because La Raza is not closer to that area. A fan that has been a strong fan of the band all these years, even when they were out of the game, maybe will take it a bit hard to adjust to the new reality.
Nevertheless, La Raza, with it’s rather Rockin’ figure, is a good release by the saints. It seems that the involvement of Jeff Duncan with his own Hard Rock (AC / DC like) DC 4, made a sort of a positive impression on the saints. It is easy to understand that because the other guys on the band were on bands like Anthrax, Seven Witches, Jack Frost, Birds Of Prey and the Jack Frost project.
Overall, Hard Rock took the saints almost completely as new elements were involved on La Raza. The tracks’ image isn’t powerful as before, even the heavier tracks. However, they showed Armored Saint’s talent to produce good songs of everyday life. There are soft to a bit louder turns all over the album, you can say not too sweet, yet not too dirty. The best of part of the music's sound is the production. Joey Vera, the band’s veteran bassist, handled the all-around production. He was able to remind the band’s fans the fitting sound of the saints. In addition, for this reviewer’s surprise, the Hard Rockin’ approach sits pretty well with John Bush, which has more experience with Heavy and Thrash Metal.
In conclusion, La Raza is not what most people would expect from Armored Saint, however the result is more positive than negative – Saints Will Conquer!!!
Best highlights: “Loose Cannon”, “Chilled”, “Left Hook From The Right Field” (one of the few Metal tunes on this one), “Blues” and “Head On”.
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- Lior “Steinmetal” Stein (May, 6th 2010)
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