Armored Saint - La Raza
12-Nov-2010 Label: Metal Blade/Riot!
Produced by Joey Vera
Playing time: 51.34
Reviewed by Brian Fischer-Giffin
If you caught their shows last year or you've heard any of their albums, you'd already know that Armored Saint is one of the most under-rated bands in metal history, and here's proof. They may have only made three albums in the last 19 years, but they aren't the least bit rusty. Every time these five dudes get together, they make it sound like they've never been apart, and despite Joey Vera's assertion that he really wasn't interested in trying to take up where Revelation left off in 2000, it's clear almost immediately that La Raza is an Armored Saint album.
"Loose Cannon" comes in on a slow build from acoustics then breaks out into their trademark style of rocking heavy metal. It's a solid beginning, but Armored Saint is just warming up, unleashing a classic twin guitar harmony in the intro to "Head On" before heading into a chunky riff and then a big catchy groove. "Left Hook from Right Field" and "Get Off the Fence" are as equally littered with hooks and rock-style grooves, with Jeff Duncan and Phil Sandoval busting out some guitar pyrotechnics in the latter.
Displaying the diversity they've long been known for, the title track opens with a distinctive Latin rock vibe recalling Gonzo's percussive work on "Tribal Dance". "La Raza" is a heavy, bluesy jam, easily the stand out of the album and one of the band's best tracks ever, which is saying a lot. Other songs work in the ethnic and blues-flavoured influences also while remaining solidly in heavy metal territory. The closer even throws in a funky edge to heightened the almost danceability factor of the whole album.
La Raza is an extremely catchy album, with John Bush, having penned some of his best lyrics, in fine voice as always. Like Overkill, Armored Saint rarely if ever disappoint, and as there doesn't appear to be any plans for the band to play live beyond a couple of dates in LA, La Raza may be your final chance to enjoy one of the best metal bands of all.
1. Loose Cannon
2. Head On
3. Left Hook from Right Field
4. Get Off the Fence
6. La Raza
7. Black Feet
8. Little Monkey
10. Bandit Country
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