• Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

Armored Saint/Dinner Music for the Gods/Tyrants by Night – A Triple Threat of Heavy Metal On Stage at Vamp’d!

Armored Saint played Count’s Vamp’d on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, with support acts Tyrants by Night and Dinner Music for the Gods.

It’s always a headbanger’s paradise at Vamp’d, with the greatest in classic hard rock and heavy metal regularly packing the venue. Upon upon hearing Armored Saint would be returning, I knew it was a gig I’d have to catch, despite it being on a Tuesday night. Not to mention two of the best local metal acts would be kicking things off.

The first band of the night was Tyrants by Night, a group I’ve seen several times in Sin City over the years, including a few weeks back when they opened for the Damage, Inc. Metallica tribute. Not long ago, these guys released a fantastic EP of music, demonstrating their prowess when it comes to all things heavy. Who exactly is the heaviest band in Las Vegas? I can’t give an answer to that question, but I can say without hesitation that Tyrants is certainly in the running for that title. Their ferocity on a live stage knows no bounds, and it’s why I look forward to their gigs. No one does hard and heavy better, and on this stage on this night at Vamp’d, they beautifully demonstrated this. Since this was a show with three bands, their set had to be fairly short, but they made every second count. If you like it hard and heavy, go see these guys live, and pick up their EP.

Continuing the festivities was Dinner Music for the Gods. There are a good many hard rock and metal bands in Sin City, but Dinner Music is unique in that they’re an instrumental group. I’ll be the first to admit that all-instrumental music doesn’t always grab or interest me, but the Dinner Music guys have proven to be quite the exception. This was my first time seeing the group since the pandemic, but I’m pleased to see they’ve lost nothing. From harder, heavier, and more aggressive tunes to more melodic and progressive sounds, they run the gamut with many different styles. Probably my only minor complaint with this otherwise stellar set was that their didn’t play their signature tune, “Ghost Troopers in the Sky” (a mash-up of Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” and the classic country anthem “Ghost Riders in the Sky”), though this is somewhat understandable with the time constraints due to having three bands playing on this evening. Still, there’s no denying these guys rock when it comes to delivering instrumental riffs of the best kind!

But the reason people flocked to the venue on a Tuesday night, of course, was to see the mighty Armored Saint live on the Vamp’d stage! First formed in the early 80s and signed to Brian Slagel’s Metal Blade Records, they made a name for themselves with a powerful sound and talented array of members, including vocalist John Bush (who would also front Anthrax for many years), bassist Joey Vera, guitarist Phil Sandoval, drummer Gonzo Sandoval, and late guitarist Dave Prichard. Guitarist Jeff Duncan (who nowadays calls Las Vegas home) joined the band in 1989, and while there have often been long gaps between albums, these guys know how to rock, as anyone who has ever bought one of their albums or attended one of their concerts knows.

I’d seen Armored Saint twice in the past; once at Vamp’d in 2015, and again at the House of Blues in 2022, opening for WASP. So, I was certainly due for an Armored Saint fix, and I’m pleased to say that the band thoroughly rocked this audience. It being the middle of the week certainly didn’t keep the fans away, and it always pleases this headbanger to see real heavy metal alive and well on the live stage.

Vocalist John Bush was in fine form, moving across the stage (and even off of it at one point in the gig!) with a high level of energy and enthusiasm. The only thing more entertaining than this guy’s booming vocals were some of the things he had to say between songs, which ranged from some not-so-kind words to former record label Chrysalis, and a tribute to Dave Prichard, to giving a shout out to Metal Blade founder Brian Slagel, who happened to be in the house on this evening. There was only one person in the building banging their head more than the crowd of enthusiastic metalheads in the audience, and that was bassist Joey Vera, who still rocks like no other.

The twin guitar attack of Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan was as impressive as ever. Being a Las Vegas resident, I get to see Mr. Duncan perform with many local groups, including Hell Mary and The Bones, both of whom are great in their own way (and certainly wildly different from what you’d hear him doing with Armored Saint!) But nothing tops seeing Jeff in his element, playing at his hardest and heaviest, rocking these riffs even all these years later. And not enough credit can be given to the band’s resident timekeeper, Gonzo Sandoval, who still beats the skins as hard as he did back in the band’s classic 80s era.

The setlist was quite impressive, featuring tracks from every full-length studio album the band has ever released. The group regularly announced to the audience they’d be digging into the vault and playing some deep cuts, and they delivered on that promise! But of course, many of the most popular songs got played as well, including the title cut from their 1984 debut LP, MARCH OF THE SAINT, and “Reign of Fire” from 1991’s SYMBOL OF SALVATION, which was Jeff Duncan’s first album with the group. Even more recent albums from the past decade like WIN HANDS DOWN and PUNCHING THE SKY got some representation, much to the delight of this fan. The band dug deep, even serving up some great tunes from the Max Norman-produced sophomore effort, 1985’s DELIRIOUS NOMAD. John Bush even defied the odds and added an extra song to the set, “Chemical Euphoria” from 1987’s RAISING FEAR. At the end of the night, this audience was thoroughly rocked and satisfied.

Armored Saint still knows how to rock, four decades after the release of their debut. And local talent was in no short supply with some fantastic sets from Dinner Music for the Dogs and Tyrants by Night. If you want to rock out and bang your head, get out and support these groups. You’ll be glad you did!

Live photos by Courtney Ware for ZrockR Magazine 2024 – All Rights Reserved.

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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