Written by: Blackie Skulless
It’s always fun going back and covering albums that never got close to the spotlight, but deserve loads of it. It’s especially fun when all of the promos you’ve gotten in the inbox have been boring as hell, so you’re forced to dig up some old fossils. Enter Saint, a Christian heavy metal act hailing from Salem, Oregon in the ‘80s. They only had two records before splitting and reforming a decade later. Too Late For Living was their second, and most important record dropping in 1988.
Standing out immediately is how close Saint comes to sounding like Judas Priest. Simple rhythm patterns that hook the ear covered in dual guitar attacks make up the base structure, as hoarse but concise vocals with chant-like choruses lift things to new heights. Sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it? What’s even better is how incredibly this thing is produced, particularly with the way the guitar passages have a hint of echo, and stand apart from each other. There’s then room for drums to click harder as well.
All of this allows for Too Late For Living to emulate a broad spectrum of sounds. “Accuser” is a speed metal banger with its screeching solo, riding riffs, and thunderous attitude reflecting the devil himself. You also get a few scoops of falsetto for effect. Another one of the more jarring tunes is the instrumental “Returning,” blasting away with several mood changes, explosive kicks, and bouncy leads that have a rougher, cutting edge. Even “Through The Sky” feels bombastic, doubling down on the riffage with twin leads in the solos and the riffing.
To the same effect with a wildly different approach, “The Path” nears doomy passages crossed with the likes of Twisted Sister’s “Burn In Hell.” Ironically, that’s somewhat what the song is about. Saint does a great job at making the Satan-inspired songs sound far more sinister. You can be just as sure to find anthemic tracks that combine that energy with accessibility. The title track is probably the band’s most famous song (using that word liberally), opening the album by cooking up an enchanting chorus to its advantage. “The Rock” is another song in this vein, admittedly a bit corny but channeling in all sorts of ‘80s metal fun. Would it really be complete without closing on a balladish note known as “The War Is Over”?
This is some serious straightforward heavy metal mastery from the righteous frame of mind. Despite some of the complexity, every song is brief and doesn’t add in any extra fat, making the entire thing extremely accessible. The runtime barely tops the thirty minute mark, which is even more of a reason to give this a spin. Essential hearing for all traditional metal maniacs.
Saint - Too Late For Living was released in 1988 from Pure Metal, and re-released in 2000 by Armor
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We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!