Review by Andy Hawes for MPM
British AOR/Melodic Rockers Blood Red Saints return to the Frontiers Records roster with this, their fourth studio album, Undisputed.
It’s a perhaps sad but unavoidable fact that any British AOR/Melodic Rock band will always find themselves compared to genre greats like FM and Strangeways and that’s kinda where I started when this album kicked in.
Make no mistake though, Blood Red Saints certainly aren’t living in anybody’s shadow with this album. There are some broad similarities to recent FM material, but it has to be said that Blood Red Saints are ploughing their own AOR/melodic Rock furrow here and are doing it in considerable style. In Pete Godfrey they have a vocalist of exceptional talent with a voice tailor-made for this kinda thing and the rest of the band are also extremely talented.
The production on Undisputed sits just right. The guitars are big and powerful, with keyboards providing lush and colourful supporting soundscapes to support the guitars and vocal melodies. Like all the best AOR/Melodic Rock acts, Blood Red Saints also have some exceptional backing vocals going on. These serve to make everything bigger and more sumptuous and are applied in all the right places. These guys know exactly what they are doing!
Opener ‘This Ain’t A Love Song’ and second track ‘Love Like War’ rock along at pace with huge guitars and massive choruses. This is followed by ‘Heaven In The Headlights’ which might just be one of this reviewer’s favourite AOR tracks of the past couple of years. It has pretty much everything you’d ever need from this kind of music. Everything in it is a hook, from the intro, to the verses and the colossal chorus. If you’re not singing along to this by the third listen, I fear that you may actually be clinically dead! Absolutely stunning!
After such a monstrous track, you need to catch your breath and Blood Red Saints oblige with the mid-paced majesty of ‘Breathe Again’, which is full of dynamics in the production and arrangement and contains plenty of fine vocal hooks. Godfrey’s vocals really are a joy to listen to!
The quality stays high with ‘Caught In The Wreckage’ which is absolutely monster AOR/Melodic Rock and the band keep the momentum going with the equally excellent ‘Karma’ and ‘Come Alive’, both of which rock along and keep the melody quotient high throughout. This is followed by the wonderful ‘Alibi’ which sounds like it could have existed alongside anything on FM’s late 80s masterpiece ‘Tough It Out’ (yeah…it really is that good!)
The remaining three tracks, ‘’Undisputed’, ‘Complete’ and ‘All I Wanna Do’ carry on in the same vein – kick-ass highly infectious AOR/Melodic Rock of the very highest quality. The former isn’t a million miles away from the sort of thing that Danger Danger built their careers on in the late 80s and beyond.
‘Complete’ is the wimpy ‘by-numbers’ ballad that all AOR/Melodic Rock bands need on their albums, yet somehow it still works and there’s absolutely no desire to hit the ‘skip’ button, probably because the guitars kick in and rock it up in exactly the right way at exactly the right time. A clever key change for the closing choruses helps too! Finally, ‘All I Wanna Do’ rounds the album off in sterling and suitably rocking fashion! A great way to end a mighty fine album!
One of the things that strikes me when coming back to this album for repeat listens is that it has much more of a classic old-school feel than many of its contemporaries on Frontiers’ current roster. This is a good thing, as it lends this album a kind of uniqueness amongst the plethora of other acts peddling ostensibly similar material.
There’s also a very British feel to this album, even though the style of music is classic AOR the way the Americans used to do it. It’s hard to put your finger on why this is, but the more (ahem) ‘mature’ fans of the genre amongst our readership, who’ve been fans of the genre for over 30 years and who’ve heard all the classics will doubtless know exactly what I mean.
With Undisputed, Blood Red Saints have released an album of monstrous proportions! It is as good or better than pretty much anything similar out there at the moment and is one of Frontiers’ strongest recent releases.
Its classic old-school feel doesn’t sound dated due to the excellence of the production and the performances of all band members is outstanding throughout. With this album Blood Red Saints can rightly claim their place among the greats of British AOR/melodic Rock. Another essential purchase for any discerning AOR/Melodic Rock fan!
- This Ain’t A Love Song
- Love Like War
- Heaven In The Headlights
- Breathe Again
- Caught In The Wreckage
- Come Alive
- All I Wanna Do
Pete Godfrey – Vocals, Bass
Lee Revill – Guitar
Neil Hibbs – Guitar
Andy Chemney – Drums
From the album UNDISPUTED. Buy or Stream: https://orcd.co/undisputed