Armored Saint

Nod to the Old School

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Nobody can fault Armored Saint's metal credentials, but they've always also betrayed a fondness for straight-ahead rock & roll. Which, indeed, is what makes them so good: Where others merely thrash, the Saint swings and thrashes. Nod to the Old School, a two-disc grab bag that contains retooled versions of Saint staples, live cuts, unreleased stuff, covers, and a handful of new tracks, showcases the band in all their fierce glory. Like the title suggests, there aren't any surprises or changes in musical direction: From the opening track, "Real Swagger," with its rowdy swagger, Nod is stuffed brimful of straight-up, foot-to-the-floor metal of the good old-fashioned kind, like on the rejigged, slightly sped-up version of the all-time great "March of the Saint," which detonates in a howl of skirling breakneck guitars and a pummeling rhythm that never lets up. Among the new tracks, "Unstable" is a standout, showcasing John Bush in big-throated Eddie Vedder-of-metal mode. The two covers -- of Judas Priest's "Never Satisfied" and, more surprisingly, Robin Trower's "Day of the Eagle" -- are more than competent, and the live tracks off Revelation are, true to Armored Saint form, full-on barnburners. What makes Nod to the Old School a collector's piece is the inclusion of all three tracks off the self-titled 1983 EP, demos featuring the late, great Dave Prichard from the Symbol of Salvation sessions, and "You Can Run But You Can't Hide," an unreleased track which appeared on the soundtrack to Penelope Spheeris' The Decline of Western Civilization, Pt. II. There isn't anything from Raising Fear and Delirious Nomad, but apart from that, this is a fine document of the many ages of one of metal's great warhorses.

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