Review Summary: Armored Saint don’t move outside of their comfort zone and the results are a collection of strong, yet predictable, traditional metal songs.
There’s a certain metal news site that’s mostly known for the idiotic posts that inevitably come after each article, and, sadly, I frequent it often. I can’t help it – the news is almost always current and the user posts are occasionally amusing. I mention this because whenever an Armored Saint or Anthrax article is posted there is always a constant argument over which band John Bush should stay with. Honestly, I had never bothered with Armored Saint because I only became aware of John Bush through his work on the mostly-terrible Anthrax albums, but I finally decided to take the plunge. I can’t say that I had any solid expectations going into this, but La Raza
still ended up surprising me.
It surprised me because I was always under the impression that Armored Saint were heavier than modern-era Anthrax, but that’s just not the case. La Raza
is actually a rather typical traditional metal album with a decent amount of melody and hooks. Despite the predictable nature of the songs, though, they’re still not bad. They’re simply a collection of moderately paced metal tracks full of solid riffs, straightforward solos, and strong choruses. This conservative approach to traditional metal extends into the vocals of John Bush, as well. John’s voice is gritty enough to fit the melodic riffs, but clean enough to suit the big choruses and that is all that is really required for these songs. This conventional approach to metal definitely leaves the album with a very uniform feel, but there is a single exception to the rule – that exception is the title track. “La Raza” finds the band stepping outside their comfort zone by introducing occasional tribal elements as well as a groove and swagger that is missing from the rest of the album.
I have to admit that I would have liked an album that moved a little beyond the no-frills approach that is found here, but on the other hand, it’s not a bad collection of songs. There’s really not too much more that could be said about the album and it seems that the band would have it no other way. They seem very content with belting out some solid metal tracks that don’t require too much effort on the part of the listener, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Oh, and about the argument mentioned earlier… this is easily better than John’s work with Anthrax and I have to side with those that think he should stay right here.