Armored Saint is a Los Angeles, United States, based heavy metal band.
Armored Saint was formed in 1982 by brothers Gonzo Sandoval (drums) and Phil Sandoval (guitar), and guitarist David Prichard, while still enrolled at South Pasadena High School. Next to join were singer John Bush 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 1984 full length debut album March of the Saint 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 to explore other possibilities. Their third album, Raising Fear, was recorded by the remaining four members of the band. Unhappy with their lack of success on the Chrysalis label, Armored Saint returned to Metal Blade in 1989.
Soon after the release of Armored Saint's first live album Saints Will Conquer in 1989, the band added Jeff Duncan formerly of the L.A. club band Odin as second guitarist. While writing and recording rough four-track demos for their next album, guitarist Dave Prichard was diagnosed with leukemia. Prichard succumbed to the disease before recording sessions for Symbol of Salvation began. After a brief hiatus, Phil Sandoval returned to the band after Prichard's passing. The following year Symbol of Salvation was released to widespread critical and commercial success. It was dedicated to the spirit and memory of Dave Prichard, whose solo performance on the four-track demo recording of the song "Tainted Past" was used for the album.
Following the successful Symbol of Salvation tour, John Bush was offered the lead singer position in the thrash metal band Anthrax. Unsure of Armored Saint's future, Bush accepted the job. The remaining members decided to call it quits and Armored Saint was officially disbanded.
After Armored Saint disbanded, Joey Vera kept busy playing with such bands as Fates Warning, Lizzy Borden and Chroma Key. He released a solo album in 1994 and started a successful second career as a producer and engineer.
Gonzo and Phil Sandoval formed a new band called Life After Death, a song oriented rock outfit influenced greatly by the legendary band Thin Lizzy.
Reunion and Future
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. The album was a resurrection of the classic sound of Armored Saint. It features the band's first song with Spanish lyrics, "No Me Digas," originally conceived by John Bush and Gonzo Sandoval, and then revamped by Joey Vera. A small club tour opening for Dio and Lynch Mob followed.
The following year, the band released Nod to the Old School, a collection of rarities, demos and outtakes (many from the Prichard years), plus a few new tracks. Soon after, John Bush returned to the studio with Anthrax and Armored Saint was once again placed on hiatus.
In 2004 Joey Vera joined Anthrax on a temporary basis to replace bassist Frank Bello. Early in 2005, Anthrax's Scott Ian announced that their "Among The Living" lineup was reforming, leaving the membership of Bush and Vera undetermined. Bush stated his involvement with Anthrax was over; new Anthrax member Dan Nelson took over vocal duties in 2007. This move gave hope to many that Armored Saint would once again start recording. 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 and continuing celebrations, 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.
On their site, currently it says that they will be back with some new material in 2009.
In the early 80's, John Bush was invited to audition for Metallica, who also courted Joey Vera after the death of their bassist Cliff Burton.
It was revealed in an outtake from the documentary film "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster" that in 1982 Armored Saint and Metallica were at a party and Phil Sandoval got into an altercation with Lars Ulrich. Phil pushed Lars to the ground, after which Dave Mustaine, who was still a member of Metallica at that time, got involved and ended up breaking Phil's ankle. Dave recounts that to this day when he sees Phil he feels bad for the incident, but that he just had Lars' back. Mustaine later made amends by apologizing and giving Phil Sandoval an ESP guitar as closure.
In 1992, Armored Saint appeared in the film "Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth," performing the song "Hanging Judge" in the club that Terry Farrel's character visits.