1987 saw the band back with their third album, by now solidly a quartet (although Sandoval would return later). The first three albums are normally seen as a set, as this was the last to feature Dave Prichard, who was diagnosed with leukaemia while they were recording demos for the fourth album and passed away before proper sessions commenced. This release is the only one of the three which differs from the original in terms of music, as it features “Crisis Of Life” for the first time on vinyl. One thing it also contains, which I could have done without to be honest, is a cover version of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Saturday Night Special” which has been jammed into NWOBHM and lost all of its soul and gravitas. It may be well played, but the burning question on this must be “why?”.
Although that may be a push in the wrong direction, the rest of the album shows a band very content within their style, and not looking to do anything much different or go into different areas. This is still very much traditional NWOBHM, but with polish and a tightness which only comes from playing together so much. I am not sure how this worked in the live environment given the rhythm guitar is an important aspect of their sound, but given the quality being displayed by everyone I am sure they carried it off. There are numerous songs on this release which demonstrate how their song writing and arrangements had improved over time and while never as essential as other bands from the genre given they had not moved as far from their roots, this is still a fun listen and probably the one which has stood up best to the test of time.
If you have yet to hear the early Armored Saint releases, then I would start with this one and go backwards. Although they have split up a few times over the years they have had the same musicians involved since 1990 with John Bush, Joey Vera and Gonzo Sandoval there since the beginning, Phil Sandoval returning to the fold in 1990 with “newbie” Jeff Duncan joining at the same time. The band show no sign at all of slowing down, and these reissues on vinyl is a great way to hear how it all began.