Armored Saint – Win Hands Down (Review)

Armored Saint - Win Hands Down (2015)
Armored Saint – Win Hands Down (2015)

It’s very exciting to have new music from Armored Saint. There’s a great deal of chemistry and talent in the ranks and John Bush’s superior voice is always a draw. I’d like to see them do well and get the credit they deserve and, with their seventh album Win Hands Down, they seem to be getting some long overdue sales and recognition.

2015-07-05 12.34.23

Initial spins were very exciting. There’s a real feeling of Rock history running through the whole thing. There are hints of Thrash, Alternative, burly Classic Rock groove and inventive Prog Rock twists and turns. The variation adding exciting colour to the band’s time-honoured muscular, melodic Metal. It’s the sound of a vintage band aging well. Win Hands Down opens the album with one of their best songs to date, a superb driving Rocker. And Mess is steely, massive and skilfully arranged. Armored Saint sound like they’re giving it their all. John Bush, in particular, is on peak form. No mean feat considering his track record.

But the Saints don’t totally conquer. The album hits a lull in its second half. With A Full Head of Steam and In An Instant are both curiously forgettable and the sultry Dive, although good, isn’t the kind of song to set things back on track. Some of the better songs are hobbled by weak lyrics too. They’re aiming for the raconteur character of lyricists like Lynott or Mogg but they don’t have the same skill or personality and end up hitting out with clumsy, cringe-inducing lines like “I even gave you your own unique rriinngg” and “He never killed anyone but he hurt somebody’s feelings once”. Even Bush’s can-sing-the-phone-book voice can’t save songs from clunkers like that.

Ultimately Win Hands Down is solid and well-performed but forgettable. If you don’t mind the wise-cracking lyrical personality of the album you might find plenty to enjoy here but it fails to connect emotionally with me. With repeat listens I’ve found myself losing interest in the album which is a shame as a few songs find the band at their very best. Plenty of people seem to be enjoying it more than me so I’m pleased for the band and their success. I just wish I had been more won over by it. Hopefully they can deliver something more up my street next time.

26 thoughts on “Armored Saint – Win Hands Down (Review)”

  1. Good write up! Kinda interesting that after a bunch of spins you would lose interest as supposed to saying you have to spin it a few times to get into it.
    Fair enough though. I guess if anything it’s good to see a band like them put out product in 2015 as well as it sounds like you will give them another shot with there next release….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks dude! I hate criticising them but there’s just too many things that bug me about this one. It’s very frustrating. But I still think they have a great album in them. I’ll still give them another go next time for sure.


  2. This is a band I read about in relation to a lot of other bands I like, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard an album proper of theirs all the way through.

    As for this one, it didn’t take right away for you (and not for lack of trying). But there’s enough there you already know is really good. So I say put it away for six months and then come back to it. Never know, it might just take a different time and perspective for it to click and then you’re away to the races!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah there’s definitely good stuff on this one. I’ve been listening to it quite a bit now for a month or so and I’m thoroughly done with it now! But it’s not a total loss so it’s definitely one I’ll keep and revisit later. But I can’t see me ever getting past some of those problems though.


      1. Cool, it’s worth checking out anyway. I got a 2CD rarities album of theirs a while back too. Didn’t even know about it but saw it pretty cheap. It’s got their original 3 Track EP on it which is still maybe the best thing they ever did!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I knew about the EP but I only had it as a download cause I didn’t realise it was on a comp. I thought it was just vinyl. So I’m glad to have it on a physical copy now. The comp is called Nod to the Old School, it’s all live, demo, B-Side stuff. Nice!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I know that the original guitarist Dave Pritchard recorded demos before he died of Leukemia. Only one made it to the album because the technology to transfer it over bit by bit was difficult and time consuming. Did he play on all the demos?


  3. Ah man – I know this feeling all to well (the self-titled Stone Temple Pilots album left me feeling like this after a few spins). Do you think it would have helped if it was sequenced differently?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe a little. But I think there’s just something just missing overall. Maybe just not enough depth? I think I might be in the minority on this though. It seems to be getting great reviews everywhere else!


      1. Yeah – sounds much like how I felt about QotSA’s Era Vulgaris for such a long time. I like it, but there’s something missing. Still feel like that, actually … but I enjoy it.


    1. It is a shame. Great voice but he should write better lyrics for himself to sing!

      And I think he’s a shoo-in for those elections. The Republican’s need someone strong if they’re going to be going up against Clinton in 2016 (George that is – from the Democrats radical P-Funk fringe)

      Liked by 1 person

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