Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Ragged Saints-The Sound Of Breaking Free

Power Prog (Europe)/Nightmare Records (North America)

There are "rock" albums and then there are albums that "rock". The Finnish collective known as The Ragged Saints fall into that second category with their new 11-track debut-album "The Sound Of Breaking Free". Having laid the ground work with their 2012, 3-track promo, which was also called "The Sound Of Breaking Free" and included not only the title cut, but tracks "Don't Let Me Go" and "While The World Is Burning", I was well-prepared for the notion that this release would be special, but even I could not have foreseen just how good the group's full-length debut-release would be! Formed back in 2012, with the idea of forming a band coming after the band's two guitarists, Tomi Julkunen and Toni Bite (Twilight Ophera), attended a Whitesnake concert, the band would become a reality with the addition of bassist/seasoned veteran Jukka Hoffrén and drummer Miikki Kunttu. The last piece of the puzzle came in the form of lead vocalist and Status Minor front-man Markku Kuikka (Kenziner/ Book of Reflections/ex-Grönholm/ex-Thaurorod/ex-TorneD) whose soaring delivery and stellar showmanship would put The Ragged Saints on the fast-track to stardom! With influences such as Cinderella, Ratt, Whitesnake and Def Leppard playing a part in their early development The Ragged Saints, who also released the track "The Sound Of Breaking Free" as a digital single, had a sound going for them that captured the finer moments of classic hard rock. With the new album though there has been a natural progression and while they were once solely identified as a Whitesnake-like band, which translated means that they indulged the listener's appetite for melodic hard rock at it's best, the new album also finds the band tackling everything from heavy rock ("New Beginnings") to modern AOR ("A Place Where I Belong"). As I first listened to the album I must admit that it seemed as if it was every other song that was really good. The title cut opens things up and it sounds as if the band gave it a spit-shine as I didn't recall it being such a epic rock number! But then it was "A Place Where I Belong" which, at least during the first run-through, came off as good but nothing special. Track three, "Don't Let Go", came up and it was back to killer rock for The Ragged Saints with track number four, the AOR-like "I'll Never Give Up On Love", again coming off as good if nothing special. So yes, I had the fear that this would be one of those records where half of the songs were really cool, but with the other half being, well, decent. But, something happened after track number five, "Love Won't Fade Away", finished up. Suddenly the album gets up and just runs away. The Ragged Saints tore through tracks six-eleven like they were the saviors of rock and roll sent from God himself! At that point I decided to "spin the record' a second time, which was followed by a third time and then forth time (all of which took place yesterday!) and it dawned on me hat stylistically The Ragged Saints were like bands such as Heart, Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones and the Scorpions who wrote their material around the idea of creating a "rock album" and not just "rock singles". So, while there are some cuts that stand out more then others (the excellent "Never Walk Away" being a good example), it's the fact that the album serves as a total-package which makes it so special. Overall there are 11 tracks which do cover a lot of ground from classic hard rock to traditional rock and yes, even AOR, but taken as a whole this is a hell of an album and the sign of mature musicians who just get it. With album number one now out of the way, which (for the record) will be released towards the end of October, The Ragged Saints now can set their sites on new challenges like bringing their music to everyone everywhere.That said, will this Finnish 5-piece be able to capture the attention of both European and American audiences with their debut-album? One would hope so. I certainly hope so. In the meantime though be sure to check out the group's official website and you can read my coverage of their 3-track promo at the link below s well.

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