BLOOD RED SAINTS – Pulse

When I got my reviewer’s link to UK melodic rockers debut album Speedway back in 2015, I thought that they were just another bunch of middle-aged dudes who got a second chance on making the album they should have recorded decades ago and that they would be gone sooner than later. It wasn’t like the album set the world on fire and personally I found it a good record that didn’t make that much impact on me and to be honest, I haven’t exactly played it to death since it came out. And it would take them three years to release their second album Love Hate Conspiracies, an album that bettered their debut in many ways. For starters, it was a bit heavier – Blood Red Saints went from AOR to Melodic Rock there, but mostly, the songs were better. After only one year, BRS are back with another album as if to show us that they are here for the long run. The question is, in a day and age where three years – at least – between records is the norm, will this be a rushed project or an ever better effort?

The album opens with the leading single “Believer”, a mid-paced, big-grooved early 90’s sounding hard-rocker in the Arena Rock vein. It’s punchier than we’re used to and singer Pete Godfrey’s husky vocals brings another edge to it. It’s a pretty in-your-face tune and even though it’s very melodic and the refrain is of the bigger kind, AOR this is not. What it is, though, is damn good no matter how you categorize it. A bit modern and quite heavy, “Animals” comes across as Nickelback meets Def Leppard – punchy and riff-happy Melodic Rock, big on hooks and a refrain that sticks like glue. There’s a dark vibe resting over the 80’s influences as well which brings another dynamic – killer track! “Cross To Bear” is a straight-forward, rhythmic ballad that holds quite a beefy groove. This is Melodic Rock with a modern twist and big pop-melodies, slightly orchestral. The brilliantly catchy refrain make me think of One Desire but with no cloning involved. A brilliant track!

“Invincible” starts dark and atmospheric but moves on with a fat rhythm bringing on a big melodic Hard Rock groove in mid tempo. Punchy attitude and big guitars takes the song into a contemporary Melodic Rock style, something that fits the band well. The catchiness here is massive and it smells like a hit from afar. Also, melody-wise, this sounds like something Erik Mårtensson (Eclipse, W.E.T., Nordic Union, Ammunition) could have written. Fantastic tune! On a heavy note, “I’m Your Devil” comes along on a steady ground with rowdy guitars and hooks enough to sell. It’s a Melodic Rock track with a Scandinavian influence and again, the chorus is striking and sticks right off the bat. Very good. “Crash Into Me” is a crafty power ballad seated in the early 90’s albeit with a twist of today’s Melodic Rock. Back then, this track would have been on heavy rotation on MTV, no doubt – and with a refrain like this, the song should get under anyone’s skin, at least for fans of this kind of balladry. I think it’s awesome.

The slow to mid-tempoed title-track brings on some darkness in the quite heavy verses but speeds up some when the contagious and catchy chorus shows up. The rhythm is beefy and tough and the guitars roars in a crunchy mode which makes this a kicking tune while still very melodic and memorable. Some “whoa whoa whoa” chants brings on some 80’s nostalgia but for the most this is just a plain rocker – and a very good one. “Message To God” is a slower tune but a full-on Hard Rock tune that holds a moody vibe and some bad-ass guitar riffing. The rhythm section heavies the song up with an absolutely beefy groove and an enormous refrain that’s so catchy it’s ridiculous. This one must be a single at some point. Marvellous!

“What Have We Become” holds a groove not a far cry from “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, complete with the “hey” chant – a bit too obvious, if you ask me. I’m sure they were thinking live-environment here and it sure is a fist-in-the-air punchy rhythm we get, something that will most likely kick up some dust when they hit the stage. Hook-laden with another killer refrain makes this a stellar rocker that hits hard. The album closes with two ballads in a row, a wrong move, the way I see it. The first, “Warrior” is a stripped, laid-back and groundy one with a modern twist on the pop-rock sound. Lots of synths and layers of vocals comes in for a bigger sound and the refrain is irresistible. It’s a great song but it holds too many effects and why the auto-tune overkill? The last one, “Bring Me To Life” is a soft-laden, laid-back and melancholic thing with a lot of darkness over it. Some pretty heavy, crunchy guitars takes away any risk of cheese slipping through and the refrain brings on a mid-90’s, Goo Goo Dolls kind of vibe. Very good.

This album is a surprise to me. Not that it is good, I had a felling it would be, no I was a bit surprised of just how much I dig this one. And the fact that they have developed their style. It’s still very much a Melodic Rock album but this one’s edgier, crisper, heavier and not so much inside the Melodic Rock box. More guitars and lesser keyboards. More attitude. And most important of all, killer tunes. On the downside, though is that the album goes in mid-tempo almost all the way through – and there are a few ballads too many. Also, the production might be big but at times it sounds over-produced and the use of effects takes away some of its live-feel and breath. Also, I just don’t get the need of auto-tune, with a singer like Godfrey, it’s not needed and it just makes the vocals sound… wrong. Still, the songs are so damn good that without the mishaps, it would have gotten a good nine. It’s not revolutionary by any means but who cares, an album full of killer tunes and an identity of your own is good enough for me. Well done!

8/10

More Blood Red Saints reviews:

Speedway
Love Hate Conspiracies

Tracklist:

1. Believer
2. Animals
3. Cross To Bear
4. Invincible
5. I’m Your Devil
6. Crash Into Me
7. Pulse
8. Message To God
9. What Have We Become
10. Warrior
11. Bring Me To Life
 

 

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