BLOOD RED SAINTS – Speedway

Blood Red Saints - SpeedwayApparently, Blood Red Saints is the name of a legendary speedway team from the 1920’s, hence the album’s title. I have no knowledge of speedway at all so I have never heard that name before. I think it’s a brilliant name for a band, much because it’s not connected to a certain genre. Blood Red Saints could be everything from an AOR band to black metal band. For instance, if you name your band Heavy Metal Soldiers, you have kind of painted yourself into a corner and if you’d name it Pink Fluffy Bubbles, we could all rest assured you’re not a death metal band, right? So, Blood Red Saints is a killer name, but a speedway team or not, Speedway is not that great name for an album even though I totally get what they’re aiming at. The band was put together by one Pete Godfrey, a singer who made his debut in 2014 with a project called Faith and Rob Naylor, bass player from the band Angels Or Kings and the two got into some heavy song writing. The band was completed by ex- Gary Hughes guitarist Lee Revill and drummer Pete Newdeck (ex Eden’s Curse and Faith and also the current vocalist for the band Tainted Nation). But what helped them getting signed to Frontiers was Vega keyboard player James Martin who was instrumental in getting the band signed and who, together with his bass playing twin brother Tom helped to write two of this album’s songs. If the band’s name don’t give away what kind of music this lot plays, the signing to Frontiers and the involvement of two Vega members certainly does. Yes, this is AOR and melodic rock, the British kind – think FM, Dare, Shy, Newman and the likes.

The album opens in the finest possible way with “Kickin’ Up Dust”, a fine 80’s sounding American melodic rocker, catchy but still not without aggression – a good start! “Mercy” follows, a fine mix of early Bon Jovi and Def Leppard and while you really can’t go wrong with those influences, the song lacks identity. That said, it’s a good song and very catchy. “Best Of Me” must be a single at one point, it’s a slow rocker that borders to a ballad with an extremely memorable and sticky melody. Best song so far. “Dangerous” sounds like a harder edged Def Leppard (who just by coincidence also had a song called “Dangerous” on their new record). A really good and catchy melodic rocker.  If the power ballad “Love Set Me Up Again” had been released as a single back in 1989, this album would have gone platinum in a few days and the song’s video would have been all over MTV. But it’s not 1989 anymore and the song will probably not do squat as a single, but it doesn’t take anything away from the fact that the tune is awesome. “Better Days” have a synthesizer sound that screams mid eighties which unfortunately makes the song sound dated. It’s heavy AOR and the song is catchy but it leaves me underwhelmed. Good, but not great. “The Best Thing” is another monster power ballad – great song and a hit. It seems like their biggest strength lies within writing power ballads. “Unbreakable” is also on the ballad side – ballad-like but not a ballad per se – and reminds me of a heavier FM. There are also some killer Def Leppard vocals on it – a hit in my book. “Wrapped Up In These Arms” takes a turn down Rick Springfield lane, total AOR, a magnificent song and catchy as can be. “CGRNR” is a short instrumental guitar piece that goes nowhere, pretty useless, to be frank. The really high quality of the songs goes down a bit with “Feels A Lot Like Love”, a standard AOR track that could be any AOR band out there – Mitch Malloy, Dalton and FM aren’t bad bands so no shame in the comparison with those, but this song wouldn’t have made any of their albums. Same with the closing ballad “Faith” – it has no structure and feels unfinished. It ends before you can get a grip of the song.

There is clearly shitloads of potential in this band and most of this record is actually really damn great. But there’s a lack of identity in the sound and the songs and there are some fillers too many. They have their influences on their sleeves and sure, many bands have that, but I can’t seem to find the Blood Red Saints sound, the little thing that makes them stand out from all the other melodic rock / AOR bands out there. The press release also wants to sell this album with the mastering of Harem Scarem singer Harry Hess and even though I can imagine many AOR lovers out there are Harem Scarem fans, there nothing in the sound or anything else that gives away Hess’ involvement. But as most songs on this album are really good, I would recommend this to AOR and melodic rock fans with some bucks left over from this month’s salary – there can never be too many good songs to listen to. So, even though the members of the band are hardly teenagers anymore, maybe the need an album or two and some touring to create the Blood Red Saints sound, With a clear identity, I believe this band could be really awesome.

7/10

Tracklist:

1. Kickin’ Up Dust
2. Mercy
3. Best Of Me
4. Dangerous
5. Love Set Me Up Again
6. Better Days
7. The Best Thing
8. Unbreakable
9. Wrapped Up In These Arms
10. CGRNR
11. Feels A Lot Like Love
12. Faith

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