July 9, 2008
By David Huff
Armored Saint - Rocklahoma 2008 - July 9-13
A Trip Thru Red Times
Although many associate the early ‘80s rock scene in Los Angeles as all glossed up and hair-based, there were a handful of true metal bands to actually emerge from the hairspray fog that clouded Sunset Strip. Armored Saint, formed in 1982, was comprised of life-long friends John Bush (vocals), David Pritchard (guitar), Phil Sandoval (guitar), Joey Vera (bass) and Gonzo (drums, brother of Phil). They came up with the band name after getting stoned and going to see the movie Arthur. Specializing in straight-ahead metal, their sound was often compared to the music of such British metal luminaries as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Saxon.
The quintet issued a three-track self-titled EP on the Metal Blade label in 1983, before signing on with Chrysalis. Their music was often underappreciated outside of the Southern California area, where they built up a fanatical following with such releases as 1984’s March of the Saint, 1985’s Delirious Nomad and 1987’s Raising Fear.
Shortly after a switch back to Metal Blade in the late ‘80s, Armored Saint issued their first live recording, 1989’s Saints Will Conquer. Shortly afterwards, founding guitarist Pritchard was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away in 1990. The group pressed on (with newcomer Jeff Duncan taking Pritchard’s spot in the lineup), issuing Symbol of Salvation in 1991. Armored Saint decided to call it a day a year later when Bush accepted an invitation to join New York thrash metal stars Anthrax on vocals, replacing Joey Belladonna. By the late ‘90s, Armored Saint decided to reunite once more and Bush remained a member of Anthrax and Armored Saint simultaneously (Vera was also doing double duty, as he’d become a member of prog-metallists Fates Warning).
The newly re-formed outfit issued an all-new recording in 2000, Revelation, while a double-disc anthology, Nod to the Old School, surfaced a year later. As part of their 20th anniversary of continuing celebrations, Metal Blade released a special edition of Symbol of Salvation, plus Armored Saint’s long out of print live video, A Trip Thru Red Times.
The band’s only stage appearance in 2008 will be their Rocklahoma performance.
Gonzo Sandoval - drums
John Bush - vocals
Phil Sandoval - guitars
Joey Vera - bass
Jeff Duncan - guitars
Record Label: Metal Blade