Armored Saint’s 1991 album, Symbol of Salvation was a pivotal moment in the band’s history. The band’s fourth album at the time of its release, it was also the first for the band on Metal Blade Records. This after the band had been dropped by its previous label, Chrysalis Records. The band had released its first three albums on that label. The album would also be the band’s last with the late Dave Prichard. Prichard died of leukemia in 1990, prior to the album’s release, leaving a clear hole in the band’s lineup and collective hearts. That gave the completion of the album a whole new meaning. It went on to be considered by audiences and critics alike “a turning point” for Armored Saint. As a matter of fact, it ended up being so important a part of the band’s catalog that it was re-issued in 2003 in an expanded package with interviews and music videos. Now Friday, the band will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the album’s release with a live recording featuring the band performing the album in whole. It will come in the form of Symbol of Salvation Live through Metal Blade, fittingly. The recording stands out in part because of the approach taken to the concert, which will be discussed shortly. The band’s performance thereof is also of note and will be discussed a little later. The recording’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted is important to the whole of the presentation. All things considered, they make Symbol of Salvation Live one more of this year’s top new live recordings.
Armored Saint’s forthcoming live recording, Symbol of Salvation Live is an impressive new offering from the band. The group’s third full-length live recording (the first came in 1988 in Saints Will Conquer and the second in 2017 in the form of Carpe Noctum), this recording will appeal easily to the band’s established audiences and to hard rock audiences in general. The appeal comes in part through the fact that the concert is a celebration of that one album, Symbol of Salvation. Given, Armored Saint is hardly the first band to ever use a concert or tour to focus on one album, but that does not reduce the enjoyment by any means. Again, . Given, Armored Saint is hardly the first band to ever use a concert or tour to focus on one album, but that does not reduce the enjoyment by any means. Again, Symbol of Salvation is a key moment in the history of Armored Saint’s life. To that end, celebrating a record that was both a new birth for the band and a heavy emotional moment because of the loss of one of its own is fully justified. Not to mention that it was also a turning point stylistically for the band. If anything is interesting, it is the fact that the concert featured in the recording was held in 2018, three years prior to the 30th anniversary of the album’s release. No explanation was ever given about that aspect by Metal Blade Records or the band. Regardless, having the entire, landmark album in one setting from both parties here is still enjoyable. It is one more way for audiences to celebrate the album and the band without worrying about COVID-19 and any restrictions caused therewith. Audiences can instead just enjoy the concert in the comfort and safety of their own homes regardless of which side they take on that discussion. It is just one part of what makes the recording, which barely tops the one-hour mark, a positive presentation. The band’s performance throughout the concert adds its own positive touch to the presentation.
The performance of Armored Saint’s band members throughout this performance is of note because those performances individually and collectively do their own part to immerse audiences in the show. Front man John Bush (who recently talked about being pursued by Metallica many years ago for a spot in their band) is the classic front man from beginning to end. Whether it is in the mid-song moments when he is interacting with the audience, or the moments when he leads the band (and audience) along in song, his power and swagger is fully evident. Drummer Gonzo Sandoval keeps time solidly through every high-energy performance, making sure each song keeps moving expertly from start to end. Guitarists Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan pair just as well together, creating a wonderful point/counterpoint that is exceptionally accented throughout by the work of bassist Joey Vera.
Speaking of Vera, he credited the audience with bringing out the best in the band in a recently released prepared statement.
“The vibe in the room was so great,” he said. “The fans made us feel so welcome, like we had come home for a celebration of sorts, and we all celebrated Symbol of Salvation. It gave me chills hearing people sing along to songs like ‘Burning Question,’ a song we never had played live before.”
In other words, Vera is saying that the band fed off of the audience’s energy. This is evident through each musician’s performance, too. The band gives back the energy given to it as a group by the audience. It gives the audience the full best of itself in each song’s performance, leaving no question that the performance overall is everything that audiences had hoped for from the band. This is just one more way in which the recording shines. The concert’s production rounds out its most important elements.
The production that went into the concert is important to examine because of the venue’s size. In watching the concert’s video, it is clear that the concert hall was somewhat intimate. It was hardly a stadium or arena. That means that the utmost attention had to be paid to the audio mix. Additionally, it meant that just as much attention had to be paid to the cameras. Even with the somewhat confined space, the cameras were still able to capture the concert, giving audiences the best seat in the house. The audio is expertly mixed. The result is that it really captures the venue’s size so well while also ensuring no one audio element outweighed the others. The aesthetic impact is positive in its own right. The black and white presentation is an artistic thing in the video, but it also plays into that aesthetic impact. It isn’t done in some overly artsy fashion to the point that it’s annoying. There is just something about the attention to this aspect that makes it feel like one big music video and concert in one in all of the best ways possible. On a related note, the cameras catch the concert in every positive angle, too. The editing that went into the post production plays with the camera work in that it makes sure each shot is just long enough to not leave audiences dizzied. Instead it works with the production from the cameras to fully capture the energy in the band’s performance and from the audience. The short and simple here is that the production puts the final stamp on this recording, ensuring in its own way that audiences will remain engaged and entertained throughout the concert. When the overall production is considered along with the band’s performance and the concert’s approach, the whole makes the recording in whole another wonderful new offering from Armored Saint.
Armored Saint’s forthcoming live recording, Symbol of Salvation Live is a strong new addition to this year’s field of new live recordings. It offers plenty for audiences to appreciate, beginning with the very approach taken to the performance. The performance celebrates the 30th anniversary of the release of the band’s 1991 album, Symbol of Salvation. Yes, having originally been recorded in 2018, three years prior to the anniversary, it is still a great way to celebrate the anniversary. The band’s performance is solid from beginning to end. Each musician gives his all and then some. As Vera noted, that is due in part to the fact that the audience gave its all, too. The recording’s overall production ensures that the concert experience is just as enjoyable in its forthcoming home release. That is thanks to the expert work that went into the concert’s initial recording and post. It collectively gives audiences the best seat in the house. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording. All things considered, they make Symbol of Salvation Live one more of this year’s top new live recordings.
Symbol of Salvation Live is scheduled for release Friday through Metal Blade Records. More information on Symbol of Salvation Live is available online along with all of the band’s latest news and more at: