Armored Saint Biography
Armored Saint is an American heavy metal band, formed in 1982 in Los Angeles, California. Since 1990, the band has consisted of John Bush on vocals, Joey Vera on bass, Jeff Duncan on guitar and the Sandoval brothers Gonzo and Phil on guitar and drums respectively. To date, they have released seven studio albums, one EP, two live albums and one compilation album.
As one of the leaders of the Los Angeles heavy metal scene, Armored Saint achieved moderate success during the 1980s with their 1983 self-titled EP and first three studio albums: March of the Saint (1984), Delirious Nomad (1985) and Raising Fear (1987). Prior to the release of their fourth studio album Symbol of Salvation (1991), the band was plagued by extended inactivity, due to record company issues and the death of their original guitarist Dave Pritchard, who died of leukemia in 1990. Armored Saint eventually broke up when Bush joined Anthrax in 1992 to replace Joey Belladonna, but reunited in 1999, and has continued to tour and record since then.
Armored Saint was formed in 1982 by brothers Phil Sandoval (guitar) and Gonzo Sandoval (drums) with guitarist David Prichard, while attending South Pasadena High School. Next to join were singer John Bush – also a South Pasadena High School Alumnus – and bassist Joey Vera. Gonzo Sandoval came up with the name after getting stoned with the other band members and seeing the film Excalibur at a theater in Monterey Park. Armored Saint recorded a five song demo that landed the song “Lesson Well Learned” on the compilation album Metal Massacre II. Three of these demo songs were then used for the band’s self-titled EP on Metal Blade Records in 1983. The group then signed with Chrysalis Records in 1984.
Armored Saint released their debut album March of the Saint in 1984 followed by 1985’s Delirious Nomad. The debut album yielded a minor MTV hit with “Can U Deliver?”. After the release of Delirious Nomad, guitarist Phil Sandoval left the group. Their third album, Raising Fear, was recorded by the remaining four members. Unhappy with their lack of success on the Chrysalis label, Armored Saint returned to Metal Blade in 1989. Soon after the release of their first live album Saints Will Conquer, the band added Jeff Duncan, formerly of the L.A. club band Odin, as second guitarist who is still in the band to this day.
In 1999, with Anthrax on temporary hiatus, John Bush and Joey Vera decided to reform Armored Saint. The entire Symbol of Salvation lineup returned to the studio, and in 2000 the album Revelation was released. It included the band’s first song with Spanish lyrics, “No Me Digas”. A small club tour opening for Dio and Lynch Mob followed.
In 2004, Joey Vera rejoined Bush in Anthrax on a temporary basis, filling in for bassist Frank Bello. Early in 2005, Anthrax’s Scott Ian announced that their classic Among the Living-era lineup was reforming, leaving the membership of Bush and Vera in question. Bush stated his involvement with Anthrax was over, and Dan Nelson took over vocal duties in the band in 2007. This move gave hope to many that Armored Saint would once again record. A one-off show with the Revelation lineup took place in 2005, and in 2006 the band embarked on a new tour.
As part of their 20th anniversary, Metal Blade released a special edition of Symbol of Salvation. Also reissued was the band’s long out of print live video A Trip Thru Red Times. The band finished recording their new album titled La Raza, which was released on March 16, 2010. On December 7, 2011, the band played the role of opening act for the 30th Anniversary of Metallica show at the Fillmore.
On February 11, 2013, Joey Vera officially announced via Facebook and Twitter that the band had begun working on a new album. The album, titled Win Hands Down, was released on June 2, 2015. Win Hands Down debuted at #183 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. The album sold double what their previous effort, La Raza, sold upon its release in 2010. In Germany, the album reached #33 on the German Top 100 albums charts.
John Bush was invited by Lars Ulrich to audition as singer for Metallica in 1983, following the release of their debut album, Kill ‘Em All, as frontman James Hetfield was not confident in his own singing abilities and wanted to focus on playing guitar. However, Bush turned down the offer as Armored Saint was still gaining popularity at the time. In 1986 during the Raising Fear recording sessions, Metallica contacted Joey Vera to replace bassist Cliff Burton after his untimely death.
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