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ARMORED SAINT Symbol Of Salvation Reissue

By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Tuesday, June 5, 2018 @ 10:32 AM

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Symbol Of Salvation
Metal Blade Records - 2018

Originally released in 1991 and subsequently reissued in 2003, the ARMORED SAINT album Symbol of Salvation album gets a third shot of life with this "special edition".

It was announced on February 27th that the band would be going out on a July/August 2018 North American tour to celebrate the album by playing the whole disc in its entirety. Along with that news came the news of the May 18th reissue.

Now, you might not feel the need to grab up the album if you already have it, but for me I wanted it because I only owned it on cassette. While the tape was still in perfect working order, I also wanted the four bonus tracks on the disc that I will talk about a bit later.

So why does this album seem to keep coming back from the dead? Well, that's easy. It's a damn freaking awesome album! From one track to the next,, start to finish, this just might be the best album they've ever done. (For me, it goes 1-2 with Raising Fear and which comes in at #1 usually depends on which album I'm listening to at the time.)

The album gets off to a blazing start with hair raising rocker "Reign of Fire". I defy anyone to not feel their blood pressure rise as this song plays. In fact, the first four tracks on the album are some of the finest ARMORED SAINT songs. "Dropping Like Flies" (which has a great sound on the vocals during the chorus in particular) and "Tribal Dance" blaze with white hot intensity. The "Last Train Home" song starts off a bit slower but grows into another hard charging anthem.

A lot of times I find that a song that plods along to be drawn out and a little boring. But turning that formula on its head is the song "Another Day". It is definitely more of a plodder in the beginning. But to its credit, it is in a pleasing fashion before the pace picks up towards the end of the track.

The title track soars as it burns brightly, rocking with little regard for subtlety. I loved the solo in "Hanging Judge" and thought John Bush's vocal work on "Burning Question" was a stand out.

I can't remember if I knew this before, but after reading the liner notes I learned that the first guitar solo in the terrific "Tainted Past" was taken from a 1989 demo played by Dave E. Prichard, the band's guitarist that passed away from leukemia.

One particularly noteworthy thing that I'm looking forward to with the upcoming tour is that I will get to hear the band play "Spineless". The song is the closing track of the original release and right from the start the song grabs you. From the brief big drum fill as the track begins which is quickly joined by a huge guitar riff, you can't help but feel whipped from one side to another by the song. The vocal from Bush is electric and when I hear this song...and I do mean EVERY SINGLE TIME...I get the feel that this track has a very thrash metal sensibility to it. Whether I'm reading more into it than is there, that's the impression I've gotten from Day 1 with that song. On top of which it is simply such a killer track that you feel exhausted after it (and the album) ends.

Now I mentioned the four bonus tracks previously and I don't want to forget them. I have to say that I'm a little disappointed with their inclusion on the album. That disappointment is apportioned to whomever decided to use them on this album and to me as well.

Let me stress that there is nothing wrong with the songs themselves. "Medieval Nightmares", "Get Lost", "Tongue and Cheek" and "Pirates" all sound great, especially the first and 3rd of those songs. Rather, the disappointment (and this is where I get my share of the blame too) comes in to focus when I realize that these four tracks were apparently released on ARMORED SAINT's 2001 release Nod To The Old School CD. This is an album I have but I haven't listened to it in so long that I completely forgot about the four songs being on that release. So in a sense, there was nothing all that "bonus" for me with this particular reissue.

However, to be fair it also wasn't really about the bonus tracks anyway. Symbol of Salvation is a high water mark for ARMORED SAINT and you'd be hard pressed to convince me that there's anything wrong with the original 13 songs on the album. It's not just a great album, but shows just how good metal can be when everything (the music, the lyrics, and the individual performances) melds together in near perfect symmetry.

4.5 Out Of 5.0

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