Armored Saint: Win Hands Down

West Coast heavy metal veterans keep their motor running

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If consistency was a power source, Armored Saint could illuminate a small city. Few heavy metal bands can match what this LA crew have generated, and Win Hands Down has all the Saint finery.

Under no pressure these days, the band record albums when they feel the circumstances are right, which is why this is all fired up on every level. Phil Sandoval’s and Jeff Duncan’s riffs are disciplined yet riotous and John Bush’s vocals are smoothly incendiary.

What really clinches the deal, though, is that the quintet have recorded nine quickfire anthems, going for quality rather than lacing the album with filler. The title track rattles through the gears and sets the pace for what’s to come.

Mess, An Exercise In Debauchery and Muscle Memory continue the full-throttle revelry, and if Dive reins back a little, then Up Yours is a suitably blasting finalé. This might be their best album since 1984’s March Of The Saint./o:p

Malcolm Dome

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica (opens in new tab), published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009.