It’s been thirty years since Symbol of Salvation (Metal Blade Records) first landed on record shelves around the world and to celebrate, LA metallers Armored Saint present Symbol of Salvation Live (Metal Blade), a show recorded at New York’s Gramercy Theatre in 2018 where the 1991 classic was played in its entirety to an overjoyed and packed house.
Although opinion among fans still tends to be divided between SOS and their 1984 debut March of the Saint (Chrysalis Records), there’s no question that the band themselves regard the former as their undisputed cornerstone release. This despite the record signalling almost a decade of inactivity, the act splitting up when frontman John Bush joined thrash legends Anthrax in 1992.
The Saint may be older and have less hair than the old days (a fact amusingly noted by Bush during the show) but the five-piece remain as hungry as ever, launching out of the starting blocks with the ferocious ‘Reign of Fire’ and the stupidly catchy ‘Dropping Like Flies’. A pulse-pounding ‘Last Train Home’ is followed by a thumping version of ‘Tribal Dance’ before ‘The Truth Always Hurts’ arrives with a cold swagger.
Instrumental ‘Half Drawn Bridge’ is preceded by a dedication to late guitarist Dave Prichard before being followed by emotional power ballad ‘Another Day’. The title track still sounds as monstrous as ever but it’s ‘Hanging Judge’, the song featured during the nightclub sequence in Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, where heads really start banging. ‘Warzone’ and ‘Tainted Past’ join the rarely played ‘Burning Question’ and energetic closer ‘Spineless’ on the final sprint to the finish line where the band close to rapturous applause.
Bonus material on the vinyl and digital versions include 1989 demo recordings of ‘Nothing Between the Ears’, ‘Get Lost’, ‘Medieval Nightmares’, ‘People’, and ‘Pirates’ plus a digital only radio edit of the title cut while a bonus DVD includes the show in full. Professionally shot in black and white, it’s great to watch John Bush telling stories and getting the crowd revved up while Phil and Gonzo Sandoval, Joey Vera and Jeff Duncan (still classed as the new guy) bang their heads and throw themselves around the stage, clearly having the time of their lives.
Buy the release here: https://metalblade.com/armoredsaint/
8 / 10