Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Armored Saint - Delirious Nomad (1985)

I can't paint as vivid a picture of Delirious Nomad as I could for the debut album, because I simply never got it until much later in life. I just never stumbled the cassette or record for this thing out in the wild, and had only heard of it, though I did remember the title itself sticking out in my mind as pretty unique. It might have been high school before a buddy of mine let me dub this, and I had already been reared on March of the Saint and Raising Fear, two albums that remain high up in my regards, so this one just felt like a transitional bridge between the two, not that they are so different themselves, but the songs here just didn't bury themselves into my memory quite like those. Nowadays, I have given this one more attention and come to appreciate it, though it's not the first Armored Saint disk I'm going to reach for.

The estimable Max Norman jumps on board to record and produce this one, and in a nutshell, it feels like a slightly more serious-toned sequel to March of the Saint, as if the band traded in their suits of armor for some work clothes, rolled up their sleeves and got to work. The musicianship and structure isn't a lot different, you've got mostly choppy mid-speed thumpers like "Conqueror", "Nervous Man" and the more atmospheric and moody "Aftermath" carrying most of the weight, but those are good enough, and to be fair there aren't any duds in the bunch, just a few that are easy to gloss over because they're not written with the most memorable chorus hooks or verse riffs. Some tracks like "In the Hole" remind me of a more melodic W.A.S.P. sans the lewdness and glam asshole attitude (which totally fit that band, don't get me wrong); and "For the Sake of Heaviness" doesn't quite live up to its namesake, but it's also a catchy song and you can't go wrong with the lyrics proselytizing its genre. Still hearing a lot of hard rock grit to the writing, almost like this band could have spun themselves off into something like L.A. Guns, from the same scene, but I think we're all happy they kept upping the irons instead.

The performances here are comparable to the debut, but I'd say Gonzo gets a little more thunderous with his fills, and Joey Vera definitely stands out a lot more, maybe not in the mix, but in the lines he's laying out; in fact I think this is the album where you can hear him becoming the bassist that would be so sought out later by other bands and projects. The guitar leads here are pretty solid, and John gets even dirtier than March of the Saint, growing a lot more comfortable with the style, and there aren't really any throwaway cheesy lines either. The production is still very resonant, very 80s, and maybe not as smooth as the debut, but just as clear and powerful. There's just something about these old records that feels so timeless and genuine against the more overproduced mixes of contemporary times, and you need to do very little tweaking or mastering to ensure its immortality, and once again, Armored Saint are not playing the heaviest stuff compared to other West Coast luminaries like Slayer or Metallica, but it still felt rebellious enough as an alternate to the later stuff of the British wave that was closing out around this time.

Of the first four Armored Saint records, this is my least favorite, but over time I've grown to dig it nearly as much as the debut, and it's for sure worth picking up if you enjoyed the surrounding records, though much as it didn't stand out for me, this one seemed to be overlooked often. Well-constructed, driving, honest heavy metal with more ironclad riffs and raving, distinct vocals...and a really douchey looking cover photograph which looks like a younger Guy Fieri if he was in the CIA or something?!

Verdict: Win [8/10]


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