Although many associate hard rock from Los Angeles in the early '80s as all glossed up and pop-based (Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Quiet Riot, etc.), there were a select few true metal bands to emerge from the same locale, such as Armored Saint. Formed in 1982 and originally comprising John Bush (vocals), David Pritchard (guitar), Phil Sandoval (guitar), Joey Vera (bass), and Gonzo Sandoval (drums, brother of Phil), the group specialized in a style of straight-ahead metal that was compared to such New Wave of British Heavy Metal acts as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Saxon, among others. The quintet issued a three-track self-titled EP on the Metal Blade label in 1983 before signing on with Chrysalis. They put out such underappreciated releases as 1984's March of the Saint, 1985's Delirious Nomad, and 1987's Raising Fear, and built a fanatical following in their native region, but failed to break through to the big time elsewhere.
Shortly after a switch back to the Metal Blade label in the late '80s, Armored Saint issued their first live recording, 1989's Saints Will Conquer, but bad news was lurking right around the corner. Founding guitarist Pritchard was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away in 1990. The group pressed on (with newcomer Jeff Duncan taking Pritchard's spot in the lineup), issuing Symbol of Salvation in 1991. But the band decided to call it a day a year later when Bush accepted an invitation to join New York thrash metallists Anthrax. By the late '90s, Armored Saint decided to reunite once more and Bush remained a member of Anthrax and Armored Saint simultaneously (Vera was also doing double duty, as he'd become a member of prog-metallists Fates Warning). The newly re-formed outfit issued an all-new recording in 2000, Revelation, while a double-disc anthology, Nod to the Old School, surfaced a year later. A decade later in 2010, the band released La Raza, their sixth full-length studio album, on Metal Blade, followed in 2015 by Win Hands Down. ~ Greg Prato