Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Flash Metal Suicide: Armored Saint

Armored Saint 
March of the Saints
Chrysalis, 1984

“I Don’t listen anymore/ Action is what I need”

Heavy metal was always pretty literal-minded, ya know, like when Accept would release a record called “Midnight Highway” and the cover would have a chick, on the highway, ‘round about midnight, or when Rainbow released “Right Between the Eyes” and the guitar was smashing it’s way right between the guy’s eyes, or in the video for “Rainbow in the Dark”, when they had a RAINBOW in the DARK. Metal’s like that, man. But for all of metal’s thick-headed obviousness, I think Armored Saint trumped ‘em all. They called themselves Armored Saint, and goddamn if they didn’t fuckin’ dress like Armored Saints.

Years later, when the gig was up completely, the ‘Saint just started dressing up in jeans and black t-shirts- they mighta even cut their hair- and they’d talk in interviews about how they just grew outta the leather chestplates and broad swords, ya know, and so did the audience. But you never hear about Armored Saint anymore, do ya? Listen, if you start out wearing leather chestplates, FINISH wearing leather chestplates. If they woulda kept up the act, maybe they’d still be trotting out “Can U Deliver” to adoring throngs of aggro-Medieval flash metal enthusiasts everywhere.

What? They still are? Touring with Queensryche and/or Motorhead, you say ? Summbitch. Ah, just roll the re-cap, would ya?

Before getting snapped up by a major and fucking up their career trajectory in the process, Armored Saint were one of the most well-known and highly respected Flash Metal bands going.  They formed in LA in ’80-’81, around there, and they wore leather chestplates and the occasional Roman helmet. They ripped off Judas Priest shamelessly – two guitars cranked up really high, screeching vox, leather, spikes, motorcycles, smoke machines, the whole bit. And even if it was all a re-hash, it was still pretty bad-ass. They had three signature songs, these saints-in-armor- “March of the Saints”, their theme song, “Can U Deliver”, a rip-off of their own theme song, and “Madhouse”, which, if you heard it for the first time tomorrow, would sound suspiciously like an Anthrax song. But that comes later. At any rate, all three of these songs were primo examples of chest-thumping flash metal manliness, and they happen to be the first three songs on AS’s major label debut, (ahem) “March of the Saint”, which means you only really need to listen to the first half of their first album to hear the best of Armored Saint. Now that’s convenience!

But, in the interest of historical perspective, I oughta mention that Armored Saint's first vinyl appearance was the rough n' ready "Lesson Well Learned" on the seminal early-metal comp “Metal Massacre II” (Metal Blade, 1982), and that they self-released a three song EP (same sessions, and included "Lesson") in ’83 before gettin’ snatched up by Chrysalis during the Great LA Flash Metal Feeding Frenzy. Problem was, AS didn’t play cock rock, and they didn’t wear spandex, they wore leather chestplates. And they had good hair and all, but Sigue Sigue Sputnik had the greatest hair anyone has ever seen, but that didn’t get them heavy rotation on the Headbanger’s Ball either. So Armored Saint were kinda fucked, really. Big major label record, big ‘ol bus, money to burn…but I have yet to talk to an aging metal chick who’d list the Saint anywhere near her top 100 most fuckable glambangers. And no chicks equaled trouble in early 80’sflash metal. Just picture the scene- here’s these fuckers all trussed-up like Xena extras, chugging out proto-thrash metal in the opening slot of a Quiet Riot/Whitesnake tour. All you could hear between songs was the impatient snapping of bubblegum from the hussies in the front row, who’d already been waiting for 7 hours to show their tits off to Dave Coverdale. Flash Metal Suicide? The very definition, baby.

Ah, but fuck it, man. Armored Saint had an iron-clad contract, and they managed to slug it out for two more major label records (“Delirious Nomad”, 1985, “Raising Fear”, 1987) and a never-ending slew of theater tours before retreating back to Metal Blade records for a live album, “Saints Will Conquer” (1988), which re-established them as a non-poser, bang-thy-head METAL band. And then everything went all to hell. Their guitarist, Dave Pritchard, died of Leukemia, and their singer, John Bush, fucked off to be the 666th Anthrax frontman. The cat was still singing “Madhouse”, but now it was the ‘Thrax versh. Talk about yr lateral career moves.

The band attempted to soldier on without two the key members, but imploded around ‘91. In ’98, John Bush got together with Saint founder Joey Vera to talk ol’ times, and ended up getting the band back together. Meanwhile, Metal Blade bought the rights to the Chrysalis records and re-released ‘em, and goddamnit if everybody’s not as happy as can be these days.

Flash metal, by design, is a cold and ruthless bitch, a painted harlot born to die young. Yet, somehow, despite suffering more than their fair share of mortal wounds along the way, Armored Saint managed to yank victory outta the jaws of defeat. Armored Saint, the sonsabitches, are a Flash Metal Suicide in REVERSE.

I suppose that would be more exciting if they had more then three good songs, but what the hell. Did I mention that they used to wear leather chestplates?

Armored Saint Facebook

-Sleazegrinder, more sinner than Saint
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