Armored Saint need no introduction. They released four stellar albums in the ’80s and early ’90s before vocalist John Bush departed to revitalize Anthrax’s career. Despite forming in 1982, Carpe Noctum is only their second live album and their first in nearly two decades.
Recorded over two shows, Carpe Noctum captures the band at their 2015 Wacken festival appearance and their Aschaffenburg, Germany headlining show. Featuring songs from their debut through their latest release, Win Hands Down, the track listing captures the perfect amalgam of Armored Saint’s career.
Harkening back to the first part of their career they bring modern tendencies to classic tracks like “March Of The Saint,” “Reign Of Fire, and “Aftermath.” The biggest improvement is Bush’s vocals. He has matured incredibly as a singer and his voice is as strong as ever.
Even though his range has lowered, Bush’s voice is more enjoyable in a lower tone. He does an amazing job of blending melody with a hint of raspiness for added grit. Bush has become one of the best metal singers in the world and the live setting is his lair. He is so comfortable performing in front of a live audience that it comes through in the recording.
More modern tracks are also represented with “Win Hands Down,” “Left Hook From Right Field” and “Mess,” which are every bit as equal as the classics. The only downside is there are only eight tracks on the album, as Armored Saint has such a stellar catalog to choose from it would have been great to have a wider breadth of material.
The band is tight as this lineup has been together off and on since 1989. Guitar players Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan both blend shredding with a melodic sensibility. One of the strengths of Armored Saint has also been their rhythm section and Joey Vera and Gonzo don’t disappoint. The album has a live feel to it and doesn’t sound like it was modified and re-recorded in a studio environment.
At this stage of their career Armored Saint don’t tour often. Carpe Noctum is an excellent addition to their catalog and gives an incredible look and sound of the band in a live situation. Being almost twenty years since their last live album it is nice to see a live album released because it was actually warranted and not just a cash grab or contractual obligation.
(released February 24th, 2017 on Metal Blade Records)