First up: I won’t write a bio of the band in this review as I did that in the review of their debut album Speedway from 2015 so if that’s something you’re interested in, then just click the link for that album below and read it there. And speaking of that album, the first time I heard it it was pretty bland to my ears. It felt like one of those AOR albums I had heard a million times without anything sticking out. However, the album grew on me and after a few spins, I came to liking it. So I gave it a 7/10 review. But truth be told, I really haven’t given it that much notice since then and when I gave it another spin just a few weeks ago, it kinda felt a bit bland again. But it’s not a bad album at all, it’s actually pretty good, but today it’s more a 6/10 for me. Now when this British melodic rock / AOR act is due for a follow-up, the word was out that the band had decided to take their music into a heavier and rockier direction – which sounded like good news to these ears.
And the heavier direction makes it appearance right away. “Another Freak” breaks loose with a heavy edge and with some cool, big riffing that even sports a metal influence. It is by no means a heavy metal tune but it leans towards hard rock with some big melodies and a very memorable refrain. A damn good rocker that actually catches me off guard some. And the roughness continues with “Live And Die”, a melodic rocker that ends up somewhere between Def Leppard and White Lion, catchy but with the guitars more up-front. They go back to their more melodic rock / AOR basics with the mid-paced rocker “Wake Up”. Sound wise, it lands somewhere alongside Laney’s Legion and Crazy Lixx but it also has a heavier edge and a Def Leppard-like twist. This tune is a real pearl and it’s so catchy it’s almost ridiculous – and it’s a hit. Brilliant! “Exit Wounds” is a big power ballad that sounds like it has been taken directly from 1990 and if that is anything that tickles your musical nerve, then you’re in for a treat here. It’s pompous, fat and stickier than super glue – and it hits home right away.
When it comes to their debut album, the Def Leppard influence was all over that album and the Lep shadow rests over this one as well, especially on a song like “Something In Your Kiss”, but it also reminds me of later day FM. it’s very mid 80’s laden but it’s more ballsy and bouncy – and it comes with striking groove. The chorus catches on easily and it is a good song albeit not extra-ordinary. The title track keeps up the big groove and some hard rocking riffing that sure kicks up some dust. It’s still very much melodic rock but in a more edgy suit. Next ballad up is called “Arms Wide Open” and this one is the most AOR-ish tune on the album. I hear Dare, FM and, of course, Def Leppard in it and it contains a huge melody – and chorus – impossible not to surrender to. How awesome! “Is It Over” is an uptempo rocker with a big AOR vibe but it goes more into melodic rock territory than actual AOR. It reminds me some of the Paul Laine fronted Danger Danger or The Defiants, which is not that strange as it turns out that Laine both guests on the song and have also co-written it. Great!
“Sometimes” is a pretty standard, straight-forward melodic rock track with a chunk of AOR in it and a striking and very catchy refrain. It’s the song on the album that has the most in common with the debut style wise and it’s a really strong tune that would probably have stood out as the best song on that album if it had been written for it. “Rise Again” is slower, heavier and both dark and moody but never without catchiness and big melodies. There’s also some really cool metal riffing that makes the song punchy and a stand-out track here – brilliant! Closing track “Turn On The Night”, written by Steve Brown (Trixter / Tokyo Motor Fist), is a straight forward, up-tempo hard rocker with lots of melodic rock in the mix – if you have heard modern-day Trixter and / or Tokyo Motor Fist, you’ll have a good idea how this song sounds. The catchy as hell refrain brings out some slight AOR moments but the song really rocks. A brilliant closer!
To be honest, I’m a bit surprised just how good this album is. Even though I liked the debut, I didn’t expect the follow-up to take the band to a whole new level, quality-wise. The band have toned down most of the AOR from their sound – it’s only there on a few places – and is now more melodic hard rock – edgier, rougher and crisper. That said, they’re still very melodic and hook-laden. The production is bigger and fatter and I can sense a slight Mutt Lange influence here with layers of vocals and big keyboards, something that really does their music justice. Even though it’s obvious that Blood Red Saints wear their influences (especially Def Leppard) on their sleeves, their sound is way more their own than on the debut. My first review for 2018 turned out to be a very nice surprise – this album is a keeper, highly recommended.
Other Blood Red Saints reviews: