Armored Saint – Punching the Sky with Jeff Duncan
Written by Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
Armored Saint’s album Punching the Sky is exactly what we need at this point in 2020. With a year full of uncertainty and change, there is one thing that did not change, and that is the signature sound of American heavy metal band Armored Saint. John Bush is one of the few vocalists who after over 35 years has stayed true to form, and the entire band continues to be on top of their game. It is one blazing album from top to tail and will not disappoint the most ravenous Saint fans. Personally, Punching the Sky is my favorite album release this year!
Armored Saint put out three videos via Metal Blade Records prior to their eighth full-length release, in addition to a stripped-down video recorded with band members in separate locations during quarantine for Isolation (Live From Isolation), which was originally released in 1987 on Raising Fear.
Monthly videos built anticipation and excitement for Punching the Sky, starting with End of the Attention Span in August, Standing on the Shoulders of Giants in September, and Missile to Gun on October 23rd (to coincide with the album).
The band had their Album Release Party livestream from The Whisky in West Hollywood, CA on October 10th, where they offered fans worldwide an up-close-and-personal viewing, and played songs from the Punching the Sky as well as a variety of songs from their past catalogue. This was also the first time they ever played Isolation live with this particular lineup. Various packages were available that included autographed copies of the album. A Q&A followed the performance.
I spoke with guitarist Jeff Duncan, and he disclosed how happy everyone in the band is with the album, the band’s progression, the material, and the performances.
“It shows that Armored Saint is still a vital band with a lot of energy, both creatively and everybody as players as well. Armored saint is not washed up, they have not run out of gas, and are not relying on the past to exist. They still have something to offer as far as new music and new material.”
Fortunately for the band, the album was recorded before COVID, so the writing and recording process wasn’t affected. John Bush and Joey Vera wrote the bulk of the material and sent demos like they normally do, for the rest of the band to listen to, learn parts, and add their own flavor. By the time COVID hit, the album was being mixed by Jay Ruston (Win Hands Down).
Before The Whisky gig, all band members were tested and trusted each other that they were okay to rehearse and play. Jeff never thought he would hear himself say, “It was really nice to plug in and play with the band, get loud, and play some music. It had been a little while.”
On a personal note, Jeff has been staying productive and working hard to get his website in order (http://jeffduncanonline.com/). He started to write another solo guitar album, (Jeff’s first solo album, Wanderlust, was released in September 2019.) and another DC4 record as well. He’s been doing a lot of ‘tinkering’ with his guitars and experimenting with different amplifications. He is really excited about developing his own signature pickups with Jalen Guitar Pickups which will be coming out soon, and he learned a lot about pickups in the process by going through prototypes to find his perfect sound. He also has signature pre-sets for Line 6 called Tones of the Saint. With no gigs or touring, and everything slowed down due to COVID, Jeff was able to focus on getting these projects done.
Another interesting thing the band has in the works is an upcoming documentary. It was presented to the band a few years ago by a filmmaker friend/fan Russell Cherrington who wants to create/produce the story of Armored Saint. Jeff explains, “Once he got the green light from us, he really got to work. It’s being edited now and has become a reality.”
Jeff shows his appreciation, “The response to the new record has been so positive and the support has been so great. Once again, Armored Saint fans are the best. We wouldn’t be here without them. I’d like to thank everybody for their continued support, especially in these times. Rock fans and metal fans are just so dedicated. They love the records and tell us so. We’ve been getting great reviews. Thanks to everybody, including you, for the support and all the kind words. It’s just awesome.”
Yes, it is awesome Jeff…. And so is Punching the Sky!
Symptom of the Metalverse writer and accomplished horror and thriller author D’Monic Boris Lee describes the album as “An All Killer No Filler, classic metal album with modern vibe, worthy of 5 out of 5 raised horns.”
- Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
- End of the Attention Span
- My Jurisdiction
- Do Wrong to None
- Lone Wolf
- Missile to Gun
- Fly in the Ointment
- Bark, No Bite
- Never You Fret
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