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Armored Saint Symbol of Salvation (3-Disc Re-Issue)

By Frank Meyer, Contributing Editor
Thursday, May 29, 2003 @ 11:40 AM


(Metal Blade Records)

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The fine folks at Metal Blade have blessed us with a superb re-release of Armored Saint’s epic third album, 1991’s Symbol of Salvation, complete with bonus tracks, demos and interviews and lemme tell ya… this is one massive slab o’ metal!

Their most commercial yet focused effort, Symbol of Salvation marked a major step forward for the Saint, and was an emotional journey for both band members and fans as it was recorded in the wake of the death of founding guitarist Dave Prichard. Prichard even turned up on the song “Tainted Past” via a solo flown in from the demo version.

First off, we get a re-mastered version of the album itself, a monster power-metal opus of that finds this ‘80s band updating their sound for the ‘90s courtesy of producer Dave Jerden (Alice In Chains, Jane's Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers). Tracks like “Reign of Fire” and “Dropping Like Flies” cook and snarl like vintage Saint, while the jungle rhythms of “Tribal Dance” and the bluesy swagger of “Truth Always Hurts” add some new dimensions to the band’s sonic palate.

Vocalist John Bush is in top form as always, his whiskey-soaked wail sounding as passionate as ever, while the twin guitars of Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan slice and dice throughout, tossing out headbangin’ riffs alongside stinging dual leads like Thin Lizzy never even existed. And you ain’t gonna find a better rhythm section than bassist Joey Vera and drummer Gonzo. Quality musicianship, terrific songs, heavy as fuck. We all know this album smokes, right?

Disc 1 also contains two bonus videos, “Reign of Fire” and “Last Train Home,” both of which find the band looking more streetwise than their breast-plated, chain-mailed past.

Disc 2 features the original 4-rack demos for the entire album with guitar tracks performed by Prichard. These cuts sound damn good for 4-tracks and are a real score for Saint fans who have heard about these sessions for years but have never gotten to crank them up. The tunes are basically the same musically and lyrically though some of the arrangements are different and they are certainly less slick than the Jerden sessions.

Following the demo is a recent interview between Metal Blade head honcho Brian Slagel and the band, while Disc 3 is the continuation of that interview. There’s some surprisingly interesting stuff about the making of the album, the rise and fall of the band, and the events leading up to and after Prichard’s death. Funny, sad, and inspiring.

All in all, a treasure trove for Armored Saint fans and a solid dose of quality metal for any newcomers. Hopefully all this Saint reissue fever will result in a new studio album next year. If their reunion effort Revelation and the new tracks on Nod To The Old School are any indication, this band still has some tricks up their sleeve….even if their sleeve is no longer covered in armored platting and metallic spikes.

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