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By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 10:58 AM

At The Brighton Music Hall July 14th, 2018

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Photos By George Dionne

Following up on their recent "special edition" reissue of their 1991 album Symbol of Salvation album, ARMORED SAINT is on the road celebrating the event by playing the disc in its entirety. The band has only done 5 or 6 shows over the years in the Boston and surrounding areas and I'd never been able to go to any of them. So when I saw that they would be at the Brighton Music Hall in Allston, MA, I knew I had to be there.

Opening the show was ACT OF DEFIANCE. For those that like the band, you may want to skip the rest of this paragraph. Honestly, they just weren't my cup of arsenic-laced tea. You can probably put that down in part to my not being overly familiar with their music, but whatever the reason, I was more in tune with noticing that the curtains of the dressing room over the stage kept opening to reveal various members of ARMORED SAINT peeking out to see what was going on. It's not that the music wasn't competently played, it just wasn't for me.


CONCERT FUN FACT #1 - When my concert buddy George and I first got to the show, we actually walked right by ACT OF DEFIANCE bassist Matt Bachand without realizing it as he made his way to the stage to finish setting things up for their set.

After intermission, it was time for Salvation as The SAINT took the stage by storm from the start! The show is geared towards celebrating the Symbol of Salvation album but the band's set list made sure to hit each of their albums at least once.

Perfectly cast as the set opener, "March Of The Saint" got the crowd into an immediate frenzy, something that was on display all night long for ARMORED SAINT. This was a passionate group of fans and they (and I'm including myself in that group) let the band know it by cheering, throwing the metal horns and singing along at all the right spots in each song.

I was immensely pleased that when choosing a song to represent the Raising Fear album, they picked "Chemical Euphoria", which is quite possibly my favorite individual song from the band. If nothing else, the live performance of that song made my evening.

As the band prepared to start playing the SoS album, they intro'd the start by playing recorded snippets of the songs from the album. And then they started to play...and play on they did. This was only the second time I've been to a show where one particular album was being played straight through and much like the DORO show I saw in 2017, this was a fantastic performance.

ARMORED SAINT played the album in order which meant they went from one high point to the next. It was all peaks, no valleys. Singer John Bush was a manic presence throughout the performance. Working the crowd effortlessly and sounding in great voice, he kept the crowd's energy level on a ever rising peak. There was a slight change in the performance of the vocals on "Dropping Like Flies" but not so much that it changed how great the song was as a whole. I loved the way the band rocketed through "Tribal Dance" as well.

As the band moved through the album, Bush would stop to relate bits and pieces of history about the songs. Before "Half Drawn Bridge" and "Another Day", he stopped to remember Dave E. Prichard, the band's late guitarist who wrote a lot of the SoS material before passing away. He also talked about the creation of songs like "Hanging Judge" and "Burning Question" and "Tainted Past".

It was a genuine thrill for me to hear the band play the Symbol of Salvation album as a whole because there are so many great songs on the disc and there was not the least little feeling of let down for me. As great as the songs sounded on record, they sounded just as great live!

Bassist Joey Vera also provided a bunch of mania to the overall performance. He was the most expressive band member along with Bush on the night. And he burst out laughing hilariously when Bush revealed that he was glad he hadn't gone commando under his pants because they had split on him towards the end of the set.

I'd be remiss if I failed to mention guitarists Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan. They were spectacular as the six string muscle to the music. Meanwhile Gonzo Sandoval was a beast behind the kit all night long. One of my favorite tracks from Symbol of Salvation is the closing track "Spineless" which is about as close to sounding like a thrash band that ARMORED SAINT has ever come. And in the live setting, it was given an even more sense of immediacy as the wall of sound the song provides hit me hard and fast. Screaming out the song title in the chorus, the band and crowd were anything but spineless!

Eschewing the typical leave the stage for an encore chant from the crowd, the band took a moment to dry themselves off, and then launched into a four song "encore" with the song "Paydirt". It was a killer rendition that saw the band continually pummel the venue with wave after wave of aggressive heavy metal. They closed out the set with the classic "Can U Deliver" and "Madhouse" to bring things to a furious finish and sending fans out happy after a night of worshipping at the altar of the SAINT.

I usually frown up the idea of declaring what is and is not "true heavy metal" but for the sake of expediency, the ARMORED SAINT concert definitely served up the best of what metal has to offer. ARMORED SAINT's Symbol of Salvation 2018 tour is ample demonstration of what it means to help define what is "real" heavy metal!

Set List:

    "March of the Saint"
  • "Long Before I Die"
  • "Chemical Euphoria"
Symbol of Salvation album
  • "Reign of Fire"
  • "Dropping Like Flies"
  • "Last Train Home"
  • "Tribal Dance"
  • "The Truth Always Hurts"
  • "Half Drawn Bridge"
  • "Another Day"
  • "Symbol of Salvation"
  • "Hanging Judge"
  • "War Zone"
  • "Burning Question"
  • "Tainted Past"
  • "Spineless"
  • "Paydirt"
  • "Win Hands Down"
  • "Can U Deliver"
  • "Madhouse"

CONCERT FUN FACT #2 - The band is recording various stops along the tour for an anticipated live DVD in 2019. John Bush pointed out this fact as he explained the woman that was doing all the filming and photography during the show.

CONCERT FUN FACT #3 - During the intermission, my friend Ann texted to say that her roommate Robynn was at a show up near where I was. I asked what show, but she couldn't remember. Five minutes later, I get a tap on the shoulder and its Robynn. Turns out we were unknowingly at the same show!

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