|Review: Bloodbound - Tabula Rasa|
Label: Blistering Records
Year released: 2009
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: August 11, 2009
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
Rated 3.88/5 (77.5%) (40 Votes)
Wow, talk about a complete turnaround. The first album I heard from Bloodbound was actually Book of the Dead, which sounded good at first but did not age too well at all. So I kind of wrote these guys off for a while, which was, of course, a mistake: their debut full-length Nosferatu was simply a bastion of fun and enjoyable hooks for anyone's consumption, and their newest, Tabula Rasa is just first-rate on all fronts.
First off, let's talk about the front-man. Urban Breed is, and always will be, a first rate singer and songwriter. It's obvious that this band wasn't nearly as good without him at the helm. His voice is clear, powerful and muscular, and he has a huge range of styles that can lend themselves to different music with ease - just compare Tad Morose's groovy, traditional style with Breed's hard rock animation found on Nosferatu, and then to the more futuristic, controlled voice he exhibits on this album. His ear for melody is superb, always spot-on and always catchy as hell. Just listen to some of the songs on here, pick any one at random, and you're guaranteed to find a good hook to sink your ears into.
And the songwriting, too! I don't know who wrote what on here, but the band has undergone a major stylistic shift here from worshiping the past of 80s rock and metal to embracing the future. Gone are the massive, creamy, rocking hooks of the old days, replaced with an influx of stodgy, dark riffs and a cool, crispy sense of coherence and control to every note. This is a very polished album, with a lot of charm and pomp to it beside the metallic edginess that makes this stuff so good. Every song jettisons along with a kicking tempo and a killer sense of melodic intricacy. The guitars are snappy, the bass is thumping and crackling away, the drums are powerful and everything just sounds first rate. There is a Gothenburg tendency to the riffs, but I think the clean, melodic vocals they support give them a fresh edge here, and Bloodbound's songs are just written well enough for them to sound completely awesome, anyway.
Right from the opening synths of "Sweet Dreams of Madness," the band captivates, as the song quickly swirls into an enigma of stomping guitar acrobatics and a massive chorus that you'll be singing all afternoon. "Dominion 5" careens out of the speakers with a massive hook and a truly captivating melody, and the staccato riffing on "Take One" is an instant ear-catcher in itself. "Night Touches You" is the first genuine surprise; an emotional ballad with bleak chords exploding into ultra-melodic clean guitar lines that might genuinely touch you. It's really quite a superlative song, and one of the standouts in an album of standouts.
The double-part title track is just addictive as hell, and then "Plague Doctor" rocks out with a killer groove and the biggest chorus on the album. "Master of My Dreams" is a darker number with some interesting vocal effects on the chorus, and "Twisted Kind of Fate" is an old school Power Metal romp in the traditional Tad Morose style - I'd wager Breed definitely wrote this one! "All Rights Reserved" closes the album with a triumphant hook and a menacing, defiant groove to the rhythm section that will leave you wanting to play this one again. It's just impossible not to listen to this and be amazed; there's just too much good material on it. If you like Power Metal or just metal, or even just rock in general, it will be hard to pass up Tabula Rasa. One of the year's finest.
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