Armored Saint – Raising Fear
Armored Saint is a heavy metal band formed in 1982 in Los Angeles, CA. They were a bit more theatrical early on, coming on stage wearing armor and having mock sword fights. Today, they are one of the most enduring metal acts. In 1987, just beginning to really find a stride, they released one of the best records ever. They still release some of the most relevant music. 2020 saw the release of Punching The Sky, another album that will absolutely hit you right between the eyes with both the killer music and the poignant lyrics.
Released by: Chrysalis Records
- John Bush – Vocals
- Dave Prichard – Guitars
- Joey Vera – Bass
- Gonzo Sandoval – Drums
Raising Fear is the third full-length record from Armored Saint. Released September 5, 1987, via Chrysalis Records, this is one for the ages. While every one of their albums is excellent, this one was personal. As a teenager struggling with all my demons, both internal and external, this disc brought me relief. Specifically, the song “Isolation” let me know I was not alone, which sounds like a contradiction. Still, if you understand the lyrics, you just get it.
- Raising Fear
- Saturday Night Special (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
- Out On A Limb
- Chemical Euphoria
- Frozen Will/Legacy
- Human Vulture
- Book Of Blood
- Crisis Of Life
This record kicks off with a killer riff on “Raising Fear.” John Bush uses a lot of grit in the vocals throughout this record, and this song is no different. He also screams and belts like no other. This is the song putting you on notice that the band is here to take over and rock the world. And they did that. Throwing in bass and drum fills in some spots, they let you know every one of the musicians in this band is a major player in their own right. That chugging rhythm is excellent, but we all know there is more to come. This is just the first song.
There are some excellent Lynyrd Skynyrd covers out in the world today. Proving their mettle, Armored Saint did “Saturday Night Special.” It’s a rocked-out version that works on a lot of levels. It’s heavier but faithful to the original. It is also done with the Saint flair. They crushed this one.
“Out On A Limb” is another killer song. That riff is nice and aggressive, just like I like it. The rhythm is so solid under the riff that it almost overshadows the song. Gonzo and Joey are one of the best duos in the business. The bridge uses a little bit of vocal variation, taking John into a muted, echoing sound. This brings us to the guitar solo. Everything flows with Armored Saint songs. They are masters of composition.
Next is the greatest song Armored Saint has ever done. I know this is my opinion, and some will disagree, which is okay. If you have ever felt like no one understands you, you are seen, but what everyone sees is not the real you, you feel this song on a visceral level. Structured like a power ballad, this song is everything 17-year-old me needed to hear. I was not the only one who felt that desperate longing to show what I really was, not what was perceived.
I wore out this song on the vinyl. I bought two copies back in the day and just ordered it again. This will be a central part of rebuilding my old record collection. The first two lines hooked me. “In time we fly, In time we die” just struck me. I still cannot accurately describe why. John’s vocals on this one are everything from haunted to tortured to longing. I felt every bit of that then and still remember it today. Coupled with the next song, “Chemical Euphoria,” they describe what I was going through at the time.
Still, nine years away from sobering up, this song saved my life. It gave me the hope to go on, to eventually find my way in life and become what I was destined to be, or at least a closer approximation. I would drink and play air drums and air guitar to this song on loop, well, the old school loop, meaning I reset the needle to this song over and over again. I would sit and listen to this and try to figure out how I would fix myself. Turns out, I needed the help of others, and I finally found that. If you feel this song like I did, do not give up, there is hope for you as well.
As you noticed in the previous section, I struggled with addiction at this point in my life. “Chemical Euphoria” perfectly describes that to me. Again, suppose you’ve ever felt your life was out of control. The problem might be the substances you keep pumping into your body. In that case, this song will feel familiar, like a well-worn shoe that fits perfectly, despite the holes and worn-out treads.
As you can plainly see by this time, Armored Saint speaks to me on a level few other bands have. The rest of this album is more of the same. They write immensely relatable songs. Okay, not every piece is about some raw emotion, but the ones that are really strike those exposed nerves hard. And they keep doing this over and over again. Their 2020 release, Punching The Sky, had another track that makes me tear up when I hear it. That one is called “Unfair,” and it’s about watching a loved one decline and being powerless to do anything about it. Armored Saint has not lost any power since their early days.
Instead of going through the rest of the songs one by one, I’m putting them all into the “you just have to hear this for yourself” section. I can rave on for a long time about this band. I’ve seen them live, and they still bring the heat. I saw them with Helloween back in the 80s, with Saxon in 2015, headlining a few years back, and will see them again with WASP in November.
I know I stopped after the first side of the record, but I would be saying the same thing repeatedly. They’re excellent, amazing, and fantastic. Armored Saint has been doing this for 40 years now. They are experts. They know how to craft songs with relevant lyrics meant to touch you. Sometimes, they want you to feel their angst; sometimes, you need to feel their pain. Either way, you really cannot listen to this band and not feel something. It does not matter which album you listen to, though this is obviously one of my favorites, not just by them, but of all time. All of their music is this way, hitting the perfect note at just the right time.
- Guitars – 10
- Rhythms – 10
- Vocals – 10
- Songwriting – 10
- Production – 10
- Overall – 10