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