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Heavy Hitters: Motor Sister, Armored Saint, The Damned Things & Anthrax

Paul Gargano gets off with the band Motor Sister

A few weeks ago, I was watching Motor Sister perform during their album release party at the Whisky a Go-Go and I sent an email mid-set requesting that we get the band’s stellar new album, Get Off, featured in the Metal Edge store. They blew me away with a performance so seamless, at no time was I more focused on the performers than I was the performances. If you ask me, that’s what makes a supergroup – sure, having a band featuring Scott Ian (Anthrax, The Damned Things), John Tempesta (The Cult, Rob Zombie, Testament), Joey Vera (Armored Saint, Fates Warning), Jim Wilson (Mother Superior) and Pearl Aday is a great start, but without chemistry they’re nothing more than a collection of names. Motor Sister has chemistry to spare, so I’m honoring them – and the other bands that adorn their discographies – in this week’s edition of Heavy Hitters.

MOTOR SISTER Get Off

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“The world’s gone to fuckin’ hell, and we’re making rock 'n' roll!” screams Scott Ian at the start of “Right There, Just Like That,” and all I can say in return is, "Thank you. Thank you very much." Barely a month old, Motor Sister’s sophomore release is a celebration of all things rock. The twin vocal leads of guitarist Jim Wilson and Pearl Aday are so refreshing, you’ll wonder what year your hot tub time machine has left you soaking in. “Coming For You” burns like ‘70s Heart on steroids. “Sooner or Later” has Wilson singing like Bob Seger knighted him to carry his torch, while Aday colors the mix with wide bluesy brush strokes. “Excuse Me, Your Life is Exposed” goes full throttle with an intensity that will make your speakers smoke. “Time’s Up” serves a healthy serving of classic Kiss. And “Lion’s Den” roars like Anthrax, sans the thrash. Get Off sends vintage careening into the modern era – do your turntable proud and let it spin this vinyl.

ARMORED SAINT Punching the Sky

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Let me preface everything I’m about to say with a confession: If John Bush sang the phone book, I’d stand in line to listen. He’s one of my favorite vocalists from any genre, and I’m reminded why every time I listen to Punching the Sky, Armored Saint’s eighth studio album in a career that has actively spanned five decades. I’ll even credit the Saint with helping me through Covid, as the October 2020 release was perpetually spun through lockdown and became a crucial part of my survival soundtrack. Make no mistake, this album is a full-band effort, and the results are magnificent. “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” opens the album with a larger-than-life bombast that channels the timeless power of metal, “End of the Attention Span” and “Bark, No Bite” are equal parts social commentary and societal disgust, and “Never You Fret” is an epic charge that closes the album with the same power that opened it. Punching the Sky is a master class in heavy metal magnificence, and a must-own on vinyl.

THE DAMNED THINGS High Crimes

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“Y – E – L – L, all of my friends are going to hell…” So starts the rambunctious “Something Good,” the second song on the second album from The Damned Things, an all-star collective featuring Scott Ian from Anthrax, Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley from Fall Out Boy, Every Time I Die’s Keith Buckley and Alkaline Trio’s Dan Andriano. This 2019 release isn’t the metal we’d expect from Ian and Buckley, and it’s a lot rougher around the edges than Fall Out Boy – the music is infectious and punchy, rhythmic and hook-laden, and it makes the bed for Buckley’s warm rock rasp, bracketed by an appreciation for the blues and a punk-rock snarl. “Omen” reminds me of Muse, “Storm Charmer” could be Wolfmother, and I can’t help but think of Julian Casablancas and The Strokes when I hear “Invincible” and “Let Me Be (Your Girl).” High Crimes is a ten-track joyride, and the limited edition yellow vinyl pressing handles like a dream. See you in hell, my friends!

ANTHRAX Persistence of Time (30th Anniversary Edition)

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This is my favorite Joey Belladonna-era Anthrax album, so it was great to see it get the 30th anniversary treatment it deserved in this 4-LP vinyl package. The original release was a dark turn for the band, and those nooks and shadows are explored in the five album sides of bonus tracks highlighted by pre-production and tracking versions where we hear Scott Ian’s guide vocals, rehearsal room riffing, and previously unreleased demos that take us deeper into the belly of this proverbial beast. The album itself is remastered onto three sides of vinyl, Side B getting my fists clenched, head bobbing and blood boiling the most with “In My World,” “Gridlock,” “Intro to Reality” and “Belly of the Beast,” my favorite Anthrax song. Unrelated aside: We all have that one piece of merch that somehow got away, and for me it’s the black Persistence of Time shorts that Anthrax sold on the Clash of the Titans tour. I know exactly how mine got away – the elastic disintegrated after about a half-dozen washes. Got the time? Invest it in the deep dive that is this vinyl collection.