in Salem, Oregon in 1980 by John Mahan (Lead Guitar), Richard Lynch (Rhythm
Guitar), Russell Koch(Bass Guitar), Jim Maxwell (Drums) and Bob Page (Keyboards),
Saint were originally know as The Gentiles. This incarnation of the band recorded
their first demo in 1981. They later changed their name to Saint and recorded
their "Warriors of the Son" EP in early 1984 on Rotton Records. They sounded
like a mixture of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and were one of the
early bands to put Christian based lyrics in heavy metal. The band went on to
record two very popular albums for Pure Metal Record before breaking up in 1989.
For along time the Pure Metal CDs were very scarce and hard to come by and were
fetching $70+ on ebay. However, in 1997 Richard and DeAnna Lynch reissued all
three Saint albums on a two CD set, bringing down the price of the originals.
Over the years all three of the original Saint albums, as well as the Gentiles
demos and some live material have been released. In 1999 Saint released a an
EP titled "The Perfect Life" with a "more modern sound" and a new singer. Fortunately
original vocalist Josh Kramer returned to the fold shortly after and the band
decided to record their next album in a style that the fans were demanding.
Saint - Warriors of the Son/The Gentiles demo (M8) 2001
Warriors of the Son
1. "Plan II" (6:22)
2. "Legions of the Dead" (4:25)
3. "Abyss" (4:13)
4. "Warriors of the Son" (4:04)
5. "Vicars of Fate" (3:54)
6. "Time's Wasting" (4:38)
The Gentiles [demo 1981]
7. "Abyss" (3:22)
8. "Worrying World" (2:52)
9. "Self Made Man" (5:48)
10. "Space Cruiser" (4:46)
release from M8 Records. Saint's first album has never seen release on CD, so
this reissue becomes essential to Saint fans and collectors of classic 1980's
heavy metal. The inclusion of 'The Gentiles' demo is a nice bonus as well. Unfortunately
the pressing of this disc was limited to only 1,000 copies which sold out almost
as soon as the disc was released. Musically early Saint had the same mixture
of Judas Priest and Iron
Maiden that the next two discs had but the production is much more raw,
especially on the demo/bonus tracks. The entire "Warriors of the Son" album
sounds more like a demo than an actual professional release. However, in '84
there was very little Christian metal out, so this was a welcomed addition to
my collection back then. Now it has nostalgic value, so the poor production
doesn't really matter that much to me. The disc was not remixed, but was remastered
making it sound a bit better than the original vinyl or tape release. The insert,
while not as nice as some recent re-releases, includes a short bio and lyrics.
I checked out the labels site to see what they had this to say about the disc:
IN 1984 SAINT RECORDED
THEIR FIRST EP ENTITLED "WARRIORS OF THE SON". IT CAME OUT ON ROTTON RECORDS
THEN LATER ON MORADA RECORDS. THIS ALBUM WAS A BREAKTHROUGH IN THE CHRISTIAN
METAL MARKET, BEING ONE OF THE FIRST THRASH BANDS IN THE CHRISTIAN INDUSTRY.
MANY COMPARED SAINTS SOUND TO JUDAS PRIEST WHICH BY 1985 HAD BEEN THE STATE
OF THE ART SOUND IN THE WORLD OF HEAVY METAL. THE BAND WAS THREATENED BY THE
SECULAR BAND ARMORED SAINT, BECAUSE THEY FELT THAT SAINT USED TO SIMILAR A
NAME. THIS DISC IS SOLD OUT.
Hmmm, I definitely would
not say that Saint were thrash innovators as Saint are not even remotely thrash
metal, but they certainly were pioneers in the new Christian heavy metal scene
in the early 80's. Never knew about the Armored
Saint vs. Saint controversy though.
Saint - Time's End (Pure Metal) 1986
Saint - Time's End/Live At Cornerstone 1986 (M8) 2002
"In the Night" (3:25)
2. "Island Prisoner" (4:18)
3. "Space Cruiser" (5:15)
4. "Through You" (4:12)
5. "Time's End" (4:42)
6. "Primed and Ready" (3:47)
7. "Destroyers" (3:17)
8. "Phantom of the Galaxy" (2:34)
9. "Steel Killer" (5:43)
TRACKS (on Millenium Eight reissue)
Live at Cornerstone 1986
10. "Warriors of the Son" (4:41)
11. "Legions of the Dead" (3:42)
12. "Primed and Ready" (3:42)
13. "Times End" (4:37)
14. "Vickers of Fate" (3:32)
15. "Island Prisoner" (4:07)
16. "In the Night" (4:06)
17. "Abyss" (3:32)
This was the
first Saint album I bought back in 1986 and it become one of my favorite albums
for a very long time. I had become a new Christian around this time and this
album came at a very crucial time in my life, so it has a lot of nostalgic value
for me as well. "Times End" is a solid slab of heavy metal in the tradition
of Judas Priest. Songs like "Steel
Killer" and "Island Prisoner" are just so darned infectious. To this date the
mere mention of these songs brings the choruses echoing through my head. Saint
had everything; heavy, distorted guitars, catchy songwriting, shredding solos,
and screaming vocals. Josh Kramer has a great voice that echoes Rob Halford metal howl in many ways. I often hear people disrespect Saint saying they were
a "Judas Priest clone." This simply is not the case. Saint most certainly has
their own style and personality but like any other metal band from the early
80's, cut their teeth on bands like Sabbath and Priest and those influences
are certainly present here.
Pure Metal copy is autographed by Dee Harrington, Josh Kramer and Richard Lynch.
The 2002 Millenium
Eight Records/M8 reissue add the Live At the Cornerstone 1986 bonus disc. The
sound quality is unfortunately pretty bad, even though the performance is good.
This is probably not a disc for the casual fan, but essential for the Saint
Saint - Too Late For Living (Pure Metal) 1988
Late for Living" (3:57)
2. "Star Pilot" (3:29)
3. "Accuser" (2:00)
4. "The Rock" (2:50)
5. "On The Street" (3:38)
6. "Returning" (4:48)
7. "The Path" (3:48)
8. "Through the Sky" (3:49)
9. "The War is Over" (3:16)
in the Judas Priest/Iron
Maiden mode, but add a bit more melody to this, their last album before a very long break. "Too Late for Living" is
a classic album and one that regularly frequents my CD player. It is one
of the best Christian heavy metal albums to come out of the 80's.
Saint - The Perfect Life (Armor) 1999
2. "Raise Your Hands" (3:39)
3. "Show His Love" (5:02)
4. "To Live Forever" (4:17)
5. "The Perfect Life" (3:55)
6. "Deceived" (6:00)
1999 and Saint
decides, after a decade apart, to reform. Sometimes I wish these classic bands
would just stay apart because when they reform, half the time, they suck. "The
Perfect Life" is a perfect example. Boring garage rock that doesn't even
come close to the classic heavy metal Saint gave us in the mid-80's. "The
Runner" is a passable song, touching on some of their past greatness, but
even it is not up to the standards of "Times End." Biggest disappointment
is in the vocals which are not by former vocalist Josh Kramer but by new guy
Tim Lambertson, who just doesn't have the range, the aggression, or the charisma.
- In The Battle (Armor)
Saint - In the Battle remaster (Retroactive Records) 2010
1. "In the Battle"
2. "Star Pilot Return" (3:50)
3. "Here We Are" (4:00)
4. "Sacrifice" (7:15)
5. "Holy Rollin'" (4:04)
6. "Ryders" (6:05)
7. "The Choice" (3:38)
8. "When" (4:34)
9. "Acid Rain/Full Armor" (3:17)
Richard Lynch 2005
2004 saw the reunion of vocalist Josh Kramer with Saint and what transpires is a trip. The band bring back their classic sound as if it hadn't been a decade since their last release together. "In the Battle" really could have been the follow-up to "Too Late For Living" including a reprise of the classic "Star Pilot". I suppose reviewers are going to slam this CD for being to "dated". However, for those who enjoy the classic metal sounds of Saint of old should enjoy a trip down heavy metal highways. This is OLD SCHOOL HEAVY METAL: thumpin' bass, crunchy E-chord chuggin', ripping guitar solos, screamin' vocals, 100% head-banging heavy metal. Josh Kramer's vocals, while not quite as Halford-like as the old Saint classics, still sounds good and he does let out an occasional high pitched scream. For the most part, however, he stays in a midrange, clean style that fits well the power chords and screamin' guitar work. Melody was key factor in early Saint and is certainly a key factor here as well. It's noteworthy that several of these tracks give credit to former Saint guitarist Dee Harrington, however he is not listed as a part of the band or having had anything to do with the recording. With no attempt to update their sound, like on the abysmal "Perfect Life", this is classic Saint doing what they do best.
The original "In the Battle" was self-released by Saint. However, in 2010 "In the Battle" was picked up by Retroactive Records and remastered with new artwork.
Saint - Warriors of the Son [20th Anniversary Edition]
(Armor Records) 2004
1. Plan 2 (5:35)
2. Legions of the Dead (3:39)
3. Abyss (3:52)
4. Warriors of the Son (3:36)
5. Vicars of Fate (3:45)
6. Time's Wasting (4:06)
7. Killer and the Destroyers (2:31)
8. The Reaper (2:51)
The original Saint "Warriors
of the Son" EP was recorded in 1984 on an 8-track recorder. Back then there
wasn't much Christian metal around, so despite the very thin production, the
album saw plenty of spin time on my turntable due to the fact that the songs
were still good. However, once the band follow-up albums were released, I rarely
revisited "Warriors" due to the production. Well there seems to be a trend in
the last few years of bands re-recording their old material with new technology. Anthrax, Saxon, Molly Hatchet, Testament, Twisted Sister and Exciter are just a few bands that have jumped on this idea. Fortunately Saint decided
to re-record their debut EP as a sort of celebration of their 20th anniversary
as a band. With a new cover, the new, improved recording, and the addition of
two songs not previously available, this CD became a necessity for this long
time Saint fan. The band stays true to the original songs for the most part
and vocalist Josh Kramer hasn't lost his voice over the years. These familiar
songs sound great with this heavy production. The two new tracks, "Reaper" and
"Killers and the Destroyers", both written by Lynch/Mahan in the very early
80's fit in nicely and round out the album quite nicely. While some may complain
that they would rather just have new material, I am quite pleased with this
CD purchase and am glad to finally have a recording of these songs that are
worthy of repeated listens.
Had this CD signed by guitarist
Dee Harrington, bassist Richard Lynch and vocalist Josh Kramer when the band
shared the stage with my bands at the Up From the Ashes II festival in California,
Sept. 2, 2006.
Saint - Live 05 (independent) 2005
2. "Vicars of Fate" (3:29)
3. "In the Battle" (3:34)
4. "Holy Rollin'" (3:37)
5. "The Path" (3:27)
6. "In the Night" (3:30)
7. "WOS" (3:30)
8. "Here We Are" (3:33)
9. "Too Late For Living" (3:30)
10. "Primed and Ready" (3:27)
11. "Ryders" (5:15)
12. "Full Armor" (2:58)
13. "Plan 2" (6:04)
Saint on stage,
Sept. 02, 2006 w/ Robert Gutierrez of Ultimatum (far right) guesting on rhythm guitar.
I was excited to hear that
Saint was going to be releasing a live album. I have been a longtime fan of
Saint and was looking forward to that raw, live energy that live recordings
capture. However, while this recording is raw, it doesn't quite capture the
band as I had hoped. Instead of sounding thicker and heavier than the studio
albums, the recording is thin, raw, and just above a bootleg recording. Of course,
considering this is probably a no-budget recording, it's not bad either. It's
certainly better than the Live At Cornerstone 1986 recording that was released
as a bonus disc to M8's reissue of "Times End". On this recording, the band
is tight and the chosen songs are all excellent. Likewise, Josh Kramer does
an admirable job belting out those old classics, falsetto screams and all. I
also can appreciate the fact that this is really live without a ton of studio
overdubs. Part of the charm of live recordings is the audience and their interaction
with the band, however there is little to no audience in this recording. Overall,
this is a fun listen for Saint die-hards, but if I really wish that this classic
band was given a decent budget to record a proper live album. My copy is autographed
by vocalist Josh Kramer.
Josh Kramer of Saint - Live in Germany (independent) 2006
2. "In The Night" (3:12)
3. "Holy Rollin'" (4:02)
4. "In The Battle" (4:13)
5. "Too Late For Living" (4:06)
6. "Warriors Of The Son" (4:46)
7. "On The Street" (3:46)
8. "The Path" (3:42)
9. "Star Pilot" (3:53)
10. "Ryders" (5:39)
11. "Acid Rain/Armor On" (2:42)
12. "Phantom Of The Galaxy/Steel Killer" (9:33)
13. "Plan II" (6:51)
This is an unusual disc
in that it is basically Saint live, but it isn't really Saint. Basically Josh
Kramer flew out to Germany to perform with members of other bands filling in
for missing Saint members. The rest of the band was comprised of members of Ivory Knight and Adorned Grave drummer Stefan Lang. The album
was recorded on October 22, 2005, at the Headbanger¹s Night festival in Nanzdietschweiler,
Germany. This is basically the equivalent of a bootleg made by fans for fans.
The only reason it is not a bootleg is because it was officially released with
Josh Kramer's permission and therfore it is not illegal. The sound quality here
isn't terrible, but isn't exactly top quality either. One major annoyance for
me is that there are spaces between each of the songs, almost like a cheap CDR
bootleg you might trade for. To me this is just worst part of this CD. Otherwise,
the perfmance is fairly tight and Josh sounds good. This is 100% live, so there
are the minor issues like rim shots, voices tweaking, etc., but to me that only
adds to the oveall live sound. The set list is also quite good with songs spanning
Saint's entire catalog, minus the abysmal "Perfect Life". Personally, of the
two almost simultaneously released live albums I prefer the "Live 05".
Saint - The Mark (Armor Records) 2006
1. "The Spirit"
2. "The Vision" (3:58)
3. "Ride to Kill" (3:29)
4. "He Reigns" (4:29)
5. "On and On" (3:13)
6. "The 7th Trumpet" (4:09)
7. "The Mark" (4:20)
8. "Bowls of Wrath" (4:24)
9. "Babylon the Great" (4:09)
10. "Reap the Flesh" (4:20)
11. "Gog and Magog" (4:52)
12. "Alpha & Omega" (5:15)
"The Mark" may very
well be Saint's heaviest album to date. With the exception of the melodic
ballad "He Reigns", most of the material here is pure heavy metal. Saint
know what they do, and they do it well. They haven't attempted to update
their sound at all and for this I am grateful. Saint choose to continue
dishing out heaping healpings of molten heavy metal. Sure, the music is
rooted in the 80's. So what! Good music is timeless and this is most certainly
good music. That is not to say that every song here sounds the same as
there is some variety from song to song. "The 7th Trumpet" features some
screaming vocals by Josh Kramer. Here he does his best Rob
Halford "Painkiller" impression. This song also features some fast
double bass, which isn't something I usually expect from Saint. This song
is probably one of the more dynamic songs on the disc, with a nice mixture
of mid-paced and fast parts. The guitar solo on this song smokes as well.
As previously mentioned, "He Reigns" is a ballad that is well done. However,
don't think sappy radio ballad, rather think epic ballad not unlike something Judas Priest might have done
in the 70's. "Babylon the Great" has an almost Accept-like
groove to it. "Ride To Kill" is a heavy, upbeat number that reflects well
the mood for most of the rest of the album. Lyrically, this album seems
to be a concept album focused around the Book of Revelation, although
"He Reigns" is straight up worship. The only real downfall is
the somewhat lukewarm production. Actually, it's not bad, but the vocals
just seem to be very out front to me. However, I find this to be a very
minor complain. What else needs to be said, Saint rule!
Dee Harrington & Richard Lynch 2006.
Josh Kramer and
myself, Summer 2006.
Saint - Crime Scene Earth (Armor Records) 2008
1. "The Conquest"
2. "Half A Times Measure" (6:05)
3. "Terror in the Sky" (5:30)
4. "Everlasting God" (4:23)
5. "Crime Scene Earth" (4:25)
6. "The Judas In Me" (3:35)
7. "Too Many" (5:03)
8. "Invader" (4:15)
9. "Bended Knee" (3:29)
10. "Lost" (4:05)
The mighty Saint return
with their third "new" full length album since reuniting with Josh Kramer in
2004. With their first reunion album "In the Battle" Saint revisited their classic
sound and created an album that I think is equal to their classic 80's albums.
The follow-up in 2006 had Saint updating their sound to a heavier sound, while
still retaining that classic heavy metal tag. With "Crime Scene Earth" Saint
are yet again going for a more aggressive, heavier sound, while at the same
time retaining their classic sound. On my first listen to this CD I began to
wonder what was going on with Josh Kramer's voice. He just didn't seem like
himself and also, the vocals seemed a bit less focused and buried in the mix.
It didn't take me but one more listen to realize that Josh wasn't singing on
most of this album. Josh Kramer actually only sings on "Half a times Measure",
"Crime Scene Earth" and "Invader". The rest of the songs see bassist/songwriter
Richard Lynch handling the lead vocal duties. He uses a slightly more gritty
style, although he does have some similarities to Josh's more mid-range vocals.
What he lacks are those high, falsetto screams that Josh often uses. I personally
don't find this fact to be too distracting, although I have read that other
fans don't like Rich's vocals.
The song writing on "Crime
Scene Earth" is still top notch Saint, in my opinion. "Half a Times Measure",
"Everlasting God", and the title track are all great songs with that classic
Saint sound. If Saint were to put out a "best of" collection, these songs would
easily fit in with their past recordings. "Lost" is a great song as well. This
one has a classic 1970's Judas Priest vibe to it. On this one song I would have liked to have heard Josh singing as
I could imagine the song ending with one his signature high notes. "Invader"
is a Judas Priest cover, and a
great choice of a cover at that. I personally found this cover to be quite good.
I'm glad they chose a more obscure song like this one. Josh Kramer proves here
why he is often compared to the mighty Rob Halford with a powerful vocal performance.
Unfortunately the production
seems a little flat on this album. It's certainly not bad by any stretch of
the imagination. All instruments are heard clearly and nothing is overly distracting,
other than I would have liked to have heard the vocals just a bit more. As with
the past few albums, "Crime Scene Earth" was independently recorded and released,
which says volumes about this band's dedication to the underground metal scene.
The album was produced by Richard Lynch & Dee Harrington. Also on board for
this album are drummer Larry London and longtime guitarists Dee Harrington and
Saint - Crime Scene Earth 2.0
(Retroactive Records) 2009
1. "The Conquest" [instrumental] (1:15)
2. "Half A Times Measure" (6:05)
3. "Terror in the Sky" (5:30)
4. "Everlasting God" (4:23)
5. "Crime Scene Earth" (4:25)
6. "The Judas In Me" (3:35)
7. "Too Many" (5:03)
8. "Invader" (4:15)
9. "Bended Knee" (3:29)
10. "Lost" (4:05)
In 2008 the mighty Saint returned with their third "new" full length album since reuniting with Josh Kramer in 2004. With their first reunion album "In the Battle" Saint revisited their classic sound and created an album that I think is equal to their classic 80's albums. The follow-up in 2006 had Saint updating their sound to a heavier, more aggressive style, while still retaining that classic heavy metal tag. With "Crime Scene Earth" Saint are yet again going for a heavier sound, while at the same time retaining their classic sound. The original release in 2008 was put out independently by the band. On my first listen to that CD I began to wonder what was going on with Josh Kramer's voice. He just didn't seem like himself and also, the vocals seemed a bit less focused and buried in the mix. It didn't take me but one more listen to realize that Josh wasn't singing on most of this album. Josh Kramer actually only sang on "Half a Times Measure", "Crime Scene Earth" and "Invader". The rest of the songs see bassist/songwriter Richard Lynch handling the lead vocal duties. He used a more gruff and gritty style, although he does have some similarities to Josh's more mid-range vocals. What he lacks are those high, falsetto screams that Josh often uses. I personally don't find this fact to be too distracting, although I have read that other fans don't like Rich's vocals.
Unfortunately the production on the original, independent CD was a little flat. It certainly wasn't horrible by any stretch of the imagination. All instruments are heard clearly and nothing is overly distracting, other than I would have liked to have heard the vocals just a bit more. As with the past few albums, "Crime Scene Earth" was independently recorded and released, which says volumes about this band's dedication to the underground metal scene. The album was produced by Richard Lynch & Dee Harrington. Also on board for this album are drummer Larry London and longtime guitarists Dee Harrington and Jerry Johnson.
Thankfully in 2009 Retroactive Records picked up "Crime Scene Earth" for release. However, not only was the album remixed and remastered but Josh Kramer was brought back in to re-record vocals on all tracks. Indeed, this is a big improvement. With the new version, "Crime Scene Earth" could very well be Saint's best release since those classic 80's releases. The guitar tone here echoes back to the classic 1970's Judas Priest
sound. Of course, the song writing on "Crime Scene Earth" is top notch Saint, in my opinion. "Half a Times Measure", "Everlasting God", and the title track are all great songs with that classic Saint sound. If Saint were to put out a "best of" collection, these songs would easily fit in with their past recordings. "Lost" is a great song as well. This one has a classic 1970's Judas Priest
vibe to it. With the addition of Josh Kramer on vocals, this song is quite spectacular. "Invader" is a Judas Priest cover, and a great choice of a cover at that. I personally found this cover to be exceptional. I'm glad they chose a more obscure song like this one. Josh Kramer proves here why he is often compared to the mighty Rob Halford with a powerful vocal performance.
The 2009 re-release also contains new artwork by Rexorcist and photography by Kristian Thompson. Rex has also done covers for Tourniquet
, among many others. The cover art is far superior to the original release. The image on the cover of the spiked wristband and hand holding the earth echos back to Priest
's "British Steel", yet has a more modern feel as well. There use to be a day when many metal fans would buy albums based on the cover art alone and discover a great new band because of it. That's the sort of feel the new cover art has for "Crime Scene Earth". An excellent cover for an excellent CD!
The hand on the cover is my own. Check out Ulitmatum's
"Lex Metalis" CD cover and notice the spiked wristband on that cover as well.
Saint - Hell Blade (Retroactive) 2010
1. (The Ascent) (:39)
2. The Blade (3:37)
3. To The Cross (3:42)
4. Crying In The Night (3:45)
5. Hell Train (4:11)
6. Endless Night (4:16)
7. You & Me (3:49)
8. New World Order (5:01)
9. SinnerPeace (4:39)
10. Hell Blade (5:23)
The mighty metal machine which is Saint returns in 2010 with their latest molten metal monstrosity. For the most part, Saint is a band that has stuck to it’s musical guns, cranking out traditional heavy metal. “Hell Blade” is not exception. This CD starts off with an ominous intro before breaking into the double bass lead “The Blade”. The band certainly hasn’t lost energy as they’ve matured. This song is a mid-tempo heavy romp complete with those Halford-esque vocals. With “Hell Blade”, Saint sees the return of vocalist Josh Kramer singing every song, unlike the band’s 2008 release which saw bassist Richard Lynch taking over vocal duties for much of the album. Kramer, who has often been compared to Rob Halford and is a huge part of the charisma of this band.
“To the Cross” sees the band adding in a heavy thrash riff, though the song remains mid-paced and melodic. “To the Cross” is a memorable metal number and one of the standout cuts on the album. This song will most likely be one of those that will carry one in the band’s live set for years to come. “Crying In the Night” is a more melodic number and sounds like it could have been part of the band’s ‘89 classic “Too Late for Living.” “Hell Train” picks up the aggression once again and is yet another heavy number. Closing number and title track picks up the tempo a bit, adding in a slight speed metal influence, though never crossing over to thrash. For the most part, the entire record is centered around the catchy, mid-paced, riff-driven songs that Saint has become known for writing.
Saint’s lyrical direction hasn’t changed over time either. End times have always been a theme for Saint and is also explored here. However, the band also explore struggling with sin, temptation and inner peace, as heard in the lyrics of the cleverly titled “Sinnerpeace”.
The production on “Hell Blade” is much improved over the past couple of independent releases. The album has some modern production values yet still retains that retro, classic heavy metal vibe.
Saint are Christian metal legends and their newest album, “Hell Blade” only helps secure that title. Long time Saint fans will not be disappointed.
Saint - The Originals (Retroactive) 2011
|Warriors of the Son - The Originals Disc One (Retroactive) 1984
1. Plan II (6:22)
2. Legions of the Dead (4:25)
3. Abyss (4:13)
4. Warriors of the Son (4:04)
5. Vicars of Fate (3:54)
6. Time's Wasting (4:38)
|Time's End -The Originals Disc Two
1. In the Night (3:25)
2. Island Prisoner (4:18)
3. Space Cruiser (5:15)
4. Through You (4:12)
5. Time's End (4:42)
6. Primed and Ready (3:47)
7. Destroyers (3:17)
8. Phantom of the Galaxy (2:34)
9. Steel Killer (5:43)
|Too Late For Living - The Originals Disc Three
1. Too Late for Living (3:57)
2. Star Pilot (3:29)
3. Accuser (1:59)
4. The Rock (2:48)
5. On The Street (3:38)
6. Returning [instrumental] (4:41)
7. The Path (3:39)
8. Through the Sky (3:53)
9. The War is Over (3:58)
"The year was 1983 and I was a Christian who loved heavy metal music...I decided to create the sound I wanted to hear myself." So starts the biography written by Saint bassist Richard Lynch that is included in the liner notes of the 2011 3-disc release "The Originals" on Retroactive Records. The simple statement says a lot about Saint and their music. These guys were fans of the music they played, but they felt a need to share a positive, Christian message within heavy metal. In the early 80's heavy metal had seen a new birth with the popularity of the NWOBHM movement, as bands like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath releasing some of their most popular albums in years. The message of many bands was fairly dark and there were very few bands writing positive lyrics. Saint's "Warriors of the Son" was one of the earliest.
"Warriors of the Son" was recorded independently by the members of Saint on a very tight budget. It was originally self-released until it was picked up by Morada Records. As such, the production values suffered. After all, it was 1983, before the time of all digital recordings and Pro-Tools. It was also a time when the songs and the attitude behind the music were more important than stellar recordings. That fact, along with the lack of Christian heavy metal bands in the early 80's, made "Warriors of the Son" mandatory listening. Saint's debut six-song EP is packed full of catchy, mostly mid-paced, traditional heavy metal. Each and every song is as powerful as the next. However, I do confess, years later even the most hardcore fans will admit that the original recording is a bit too harsh. Even subsequent re-issues over the years have done little to correct the sound problems. Thankfully, some of the sound problems have been corrected in these 2011 re-mastered editions. J. Powell from Steinhaus Studios has done an excellent job with the low-budget recording he had to work with. It still has that demo-like quality and raw heavy metal grind, but the harshness has been corrected and the album is far more enjoyable than the original recording or the 2001 M-8 Records release.
"Times End" was the band's sophomore release and saw big improvements from everything from songwriting, to musicianship, to vocals and especially the recording quality. The band were the first band to sign to a new fledgling label called Pure Metal Records. With national distribution and an actual recording budget, Saint were set to conquer the heavy metal world. This time around the band had a definite Judas Priest-vibe. Vocalist Josh Kramer especially has that Rob Halford quality to his voice. However, despite the Priest-clone tag often thrown at Saint, that is just not the case. "Times End" is just a solid, traditional heavy metal album with outstanding vocals. Whereas "Warriors of the Son" was an important release due to it being one of the earliest Christian metal albums, "Times End" was every bit as good as any other heavy metal band out there in '86. Saint had everything; heavy, distorted guitars, ultra-catchy songwriting, shredding solos, and screaming vocals. The lyrical themes on "Times End" were a bit darker than their debut as well, focusing on (obviously) end times and Biblical prophesy.
Though I never personally had a problem with the original production of "Times End", the 2011 does indeed improve the sound quality. Every instrument is clearly heard. The overall volume has been increased as well, though not to the point of overkill. Unlike many remasters that are part of the modern loudness wars, this recording hasn't been destroyed but overkill.
"Times End" was my first Saint album. Being a huge metal fan in the 80's, I constantly sought out anything new. I had become a Christian around the time as well. I happened to walk into a Christian bookstore in Rochester, NY in search of some music. I knew of Stryper, but most of the rest of what I knew of Christian music at the time wasn't to my liking. I began checking out some of the demos they had available. One of the first one I picked up was "Times End". I was blown away, purchased the cassette tape and became a fan on that day. I wore that tape out and eventually replaced it with an original Pure Metal CD copy, which I still own to this day.
1988 saw the release of Saint's third album "Too Late for Living" in which Saint deliver another solid slab of traditional heavy metal. "Too Late for Living" may very well be Saint's best release. The songs are once again heavy and memorable with solid musicianship and superb vocals from Josh Kramer. Overall, "Too Late for Living" seemed a tad more melodic than "Times End". Most of this might have been in the engineering and production, which was slightly slicker than the previous recording. New guitar shredder Dee Harrington can be heard throughout most of this disc. The darker imagery of end times and Bible prophesy were also carried over from "Times End". The musical climate by 1988 had changed a little. Metal fans seemed to be either wanting blues-tinged glam rock or thrash metal. For the most part, Saint just stuck to their musical guns, though "Star Pilot" pushes the boundaries. offering some speed metal. Once again, the remastering improves over the original 1988 release. Overall, "Too Late for Living" was Saint's finest effort to date but would be their last release until 1999.
Each disc comes wrapped in a three panel digi-pack complete with lyrics and the aforementioned liner notes by bassist Richard Lynch. The only thing that would make this collection complete would have been a nice box to put all three digi-packs into.
Saint - The Revelation (Retroactive) 2012
1. The Spirit (3:28)
2. The Vision (3:58)
3. Ride To Kill (3:27)
4. He Reigns (4:21)
5. On And On (3:13)
6. The 7th Trumpet (4:07)
7. The Mark (4:18)
8. Bowls Of Wrath (4:25)
9. Babylon The Great (4:06)
10. Reap The Flesh (4:18)
11. Gog & Magog [instrumental] (4:49)
12. Alpha & Omega (5:12)
"The Revelation" was originally released under the title "The Mark" in 2006 independently by Saint. Apparently the band felt that the album wasn't mixed properly and lacked a certain power that they felt the project and the message deserved. (I actually said as much in my review above.) "The Revelation" is a concept album based on the Biblical book of Revelation which reveals the end of this age and the second coming of the Messiah.
Musically, "The Revelation" is one of Saint's heaviest albums. Each and every song is straight-forward, balls-to-the-wall, traditional, heavy metal. The one exception is the melodic worship ballad "He Reigns". That's not to say there is no variety on the album. Each song stands out quite well on it's own. Unlike a lot of power metal albums, all the songs don't mash together into, but rather each have their own charm and charisma. "The Spirit" opens things up on an upbeat number. It's a screaming heavy metal song that sounds like classic Saint. "The 7th Trumpet" features some screaming, falsetto-style vocals by Josh Kramer. Here he does his best Rob Halford "Painkiller" impression and does so convincingly. The song sports some steady double bass and a fire-fueled guitar solo from resident shredder Dee Harrington. The aforementioned "He Reigns" is an epic ballad and worship song. "Babylon the Great" has an almost Accept-like groove to it while "Ride To Kill" is a more upbeat traditional heavy metal number.
The new mixing and mastering have made this album sound brand new. While the original recording still lacks a little punch, all the instruments and vocals now seem to be in their proper place. The original recording seemed to have a heavy emphasis on the vocals, while this mix has more of a balance. "The Revelation" also features a new cover and is packaged in a six-panel digi. Mastering was done by J Powell, who has done a plethora of fantastic remasters in recent years
Saint - Desperate Night (Armor Records) 2012
1. The Crucible (1:14)
2. Crucified (3:18)
3. The Key (3:35)
4. End Of The World (4:13)
5. Let It Rock (3:02)
6. The Frey (3:23)
7. Inside Out (4:19)
8. Desperate Night (4:24)
9. Zombie Shuffle (2:41)
10. Judgment Day (4:23)
11. To Live Forever (4:41)
12. Escape From The Fire (3:19)
13. The Crucible (Reprise) (:29)
Christian metal diehard, Saint, return in 2012 with yet another platter of traditional heavy metal. This time around the band features the siren wails of Josh Kramer on vocals, guitarist Jerry Johnson and the rhythm section of Richard Lynch (bass) and Jared Knowland (drums). As on the original "Crime Scene Earth" CD, Lynch also handles lead vocal duties, though only on one song this time around. For a years now Saint has been a revolving door of musicians with Lynch and Kramer being the constant and their drummers spontaneously combusting and disappearing in bizarre gardening accidents. But aside from drummers, there was the departure of long-time guitarist Dee Harrington, then Josh Kramer relocated to a different part of the country. Despite the distance between the band and Kramer, the band continued to record together, but now wants to tour and have a local vocalist. Enter new vocalist Brian Phyll Miller who premiers his vocals on the titled cut for the album.
"Desperate Night" opens with a short intro and a song titled "Crucified" that could easily have been on the classic 80's releases from Saint. It's a straight-forward, traditional heavy metal romp with Kramer's signature voice bringing it all home. "The Key" follows up with bassist Richard Lynch taking a turn at lead vox. The song is another Priest-inspired heavy, mid-paced heavy metal number. I'm not sure why Kramer or Miller weren't used on this song, but regardless Lynch does an adequate job. For the most part, all the songs are exactly what anyone would expect from Saint. There are a few exceptions. "Zombie Shuffle" steps away from the typical Saint sound is a bit more groove oriented and blues based. "To Live Forever" was originally recorded for the band 1999 album "The Perfect Live", which most fans hold to as the band's worst album. This version of the song isn't bad and fits in with the overall vibe of the album. It's a more melodic and mellow song, though I hesitate to call it a ballad. The title cut is worth mentioning as it features new 'future' vocalist Brian Phyll Miller. Again, I'm not sure why Josh wasn't used on this song, but it's a nice introduction to the new vocalist who does a fantastic job, ending the song with some high-pitched falsetto style vocals. Album closer "Escape From The Fire" is a great way to end this album. It is an upbeat, crunchy, metal number with a "Painkiller" vibe.
If this is the last Saint album for Josh Kramer, it will be a landmark album. With nearly three decades behind their belt and Josh singing on most of their releases, he is the voice of Saint. Brian has big shoes to fill.