Win Hands Down
Release Date: 2 June 2015
Reviewed by Matt Bolton
This album has classic written all over it. After hearing first single Win Hands Down, also the title track and album opener, I knew I was in for something special. Eagerly awaiting the release it feels like I have known these songs for years after only listening for just over a week. Everything is there a metal fan could possibly want. With the flawless dual guitar provided by both Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan, the tight drum work by Gonzo Sandoval, frantic bass of Joey Vera and John Bush, being that distinct powerhouse on vocals that he is. Keeping the same members since 1982 the musicians, going on hiatus a few times and going strong since 2008, it just shows that you can’t keep a good band down.
Win Hands Down is classic Armored Saint. A drum roll to get things rolling, no pun intended, then those kick-ass riffs and John comes in with, “This is an ode to all my old buddies…” The catchy chorus and guitar solos to follow are amazing stuff. Gonzo thrashes away later in the track and it all goes quiet with a refreshing solo that leads into some stunning dual guitar that would be an Iron Maiden fan’s wet dream. The band don’t let up with next song Mess being one of the many highlights on the album. The guitar tone to start the song has an 80s metal feel to it. The song builds up to another catchy chorus that I’m sure crazed fans wouldn’t take long to learn the words to sing along at a gig as many of the songs have a tendency to stay in your head. A Mediterranean riff also provides something different, perhaps even the use of a sitar as it sounds. The stomping riff in this song is also a standout.
Other highlights for me are the next two tracks. An Exercise in Debauchery, which has a killer riff, top-notch solos and infectious basslines. Gonzo never misses a beat changing it up constantly making things interesting behind the kit with drum fills here and there. My personal favourite is Muscle Memory, with Joey standing out with a funky bass line, which holds the band together nicely. The song leads into the catchiest chorus on the album. I say that because it stays in my head constantly. A stomping riff soon kicks in with some more guitar wizardry. Man those solos!
Album closer, Up Yours, another favourite, ends the album nicely. You will find yourself head banging along to one last catchy chorus from Mr. Bush and Co. The guitar rings out as all good things must come to an end. If this album isn’t your cup of tea, then “Up Yours”. Get on it, as it’s definitely up there as one of my favourite albums of 2015 thus far.