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Ragged Saints, The - 2013 The Sound Of Breaking Free

ARTIST: Ragged Saints, The
ALBUM: The Sound Of Breaking Free
LABEL: Power Prog
YEAR: 2013


LINEUP: Markku Kuikka - vocals * Tomi Julkunen - guitars * Toni Bite - guitars * Jukka Hoffren - bass * Miikki Kunttu - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Sound Of Breaking Free * 02 A Place Where I Belong * 03 Don't Let Me Go * 04 I'll Never Give Up On Love * 05 Love Won't Fade Away * 06 We Are The Same * 07 While The World Is Burning * 08 New Beginnings * 09 Never Walk Away * 10 Before Time Goes By * 11 The End



As much as I love, the likes of State of Salazar, Work of Art and Houston (maybe they should cover LRB's 'When Cathedrals Were White' on their Relaunch series of albums?) I essentially grew up on Heavy Metal or Heavy Rock, or call it whatever.. Largely responsible for this was the time spent travelling back on a Sunday evening from my grandparents who lived in Waddington, Lincolnshire, usually in my dad's Datsun Sunny, listening to the top 40 chart run down; it was Tony Blackburn in those days. The charts were peppered with songs like Saxon, with 'Wheels of Steel', Rush's awesome 'The Spirit Of Radio', AC/DC's 'Touch Too Much' and Whitesnake's 'Fool For Your Loving'. It is in fact this last track I have mentioned that is very important in associating this album by The Ragged Saints. Either way, these guys got together due to their love of Whitesnake, this is no means a tribute band and doesn't influence as much as say Def Leppard have on the impressive Grand Design. Markku Kuikka is not a copy of the big DC, David Coverdale that is not David Coulthard, but really it's the overall feel of the album. Like the 80's era of the Snakes, here we find nothing flaky, nothing sweet and nice, it's an album to get you out of your chair, it's the thought of how the logo would look embroided on your denim jacket (sleeveless of course), it's the reason why I got interested in rock music in the first place, the swagger, the fist pumping and the needlework. Actually Waddington was the home of the Vulcan Bomber for many years, itself the heavy metal versions of planes, the noise of one of these beauties flying over was like listening to Dio's 'Holy Diver'. Back to basics, these guys are from Finland, found on numerous albums, I'll just pick up on the vocalist, must notably appearing on a couple of Status Minor albums and more recently as the new vocalist for the Kenziner 2014 album, 'The Last Horizon'. It's a good thing this doesn't seem to be a one off project, as these Saints are already recording a second album.

The Songs
With 'The Sound of Breaking Free' it is easy to pick out the meaty morsels of Icon, Europe, Tokyo but the biggest chunks are Pretty Maids, really these guys are revitalising the sound of melodic rock. Like the evil step son to Houston. Yes, there is AOR here but a more push to a dark side of melodic rock, melodic blues if you want to add some colour and if that genre existed. Be it Jorn Lande, at the early Millennium albums, before he began performing Stars In Your Eyes impressions.

I can ensure you that 'A Place Where I Belong', would be picked up on the 2013 census of great tunes. This is the kind stuff I always though Doug Aldrich and his band Burning Rain promised, but never seemed to deliver, or what the various record companies wacky claims that would accompany every release they had, and who really gives a Peter Griffin 'crap' who the new Whitesnake guitarist is?

'Don't Let Me Go', is like slipping into a young Joey Tempest spandex, before the perm and when John Norum took part in the early decisions in this marriage. Love the melodic defining chorus, very Goran Edman, like the first wave of Alien before their Firefest residency. Those rumbling backing vocals could easily be the polythene covered imports albums of Melidian and Artica, it's perfect 80's Headbangers Ball, before the capital of America was relocated to Seattle.

'l'll Never Give Up On Love' along with 'New Beginnings' are the lighter side of Badlands, where I would also prefer the tracks that where the rock was more fluid, say, 'Dreams In The Dark' plus a slice of Tangier. 'Love Won't Fade Away' is an impression of Jeff Scott Soto kicking Journey's fat arse into gear, if he had been given the luxury of recording a record with these American behemoths.

Best? It has to be 'We Are The Same', this had me back singing to the days of Prophet's 'Cycle of The Moon' and the first couple by Dream Theater, a more melodic sound, pounding drums and the keyboard distortion is nearly approaching iconic status. When playing this on the way to work I would love to take a detour to the coast. Parping keyboards, it's like the keyboard player is playing with mittens on, he is hitting handfuls of keys at one time, just how we like it.

The Houston opening to 'While The World Is Burning' so it's really Hanx Erix time again, where the chorus gives you a belt round the smacker. High melodic velocity with a Leppard style backing vocals, compare this to Loud Lion, and those guys don't even get out of the starting gate. I would imagine this is probably the most melodic rock offering on the whole album.

'Never Walk Away', look guys stop bailing out the Italian economy and start looking at other markets for your melodic fix. A joyous collision of Eyes and Talisman, a melodic punch, with an early Jaded Heart chorus. This trips into 'Before Time Goes By', and yes this album may be one paced, but this is like having Haile Gebrselassie as your expensive pacemaker. And yes sometimes I don't want drippy ballads inserted just for the sake of it. But each song has its own distinct pull and the odd segments of a number of the songs creeping into my mind at the strangest of moments, for instance the lyric of 'show me' from the albums penultimate track. The last track, 'The End' fires the album home, again one of my favourites, AOR for sure, it's the drum sound, love it, none of that constant banging that ruined Dokken's otherwise great album 'Tooth and Nail', I wonder if the recent reissue has conquered that problem.

In Summary
This has succeeded, where previously the likes of Snakes In Paradise, Dogface et al have always promised such an album filled with Snakeism, but always seen to fall short. This album seems to have come from a golden age of Powerplay, when you had to send away for a copy. This album is what the dodgy Sun newspaper would say, following three days of continuous sunny weather, it's a sizzler, but does anyone buy newspapers anymore?, Or do they just sit on dashboards of white Ford Transit vans? Of course this album has a shine, and it's not full of blues and guts, or either a raw live sound feel, but I don't want that, but nor is it slippery, over produced and it avoids the tracks moulding into one lifeless recording and it's far from ragged. I don't seem to have seen this reviewed by the usual suspects, and so alas would had never appeared as the album of the month, hence maybe the reason why it has gone unnoticed but it's too good to be washed over, so don't let the AOR and melodic rock business become a closed shop, open the door and let these Ragged Saints shine into your world. An album not manufactured in Italy, nothing is false; this is a super model without alterations and touch ups.

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#1 | gdazegod on November 09 2014 09:02:05
The Finnish Whitesnake! Wow.. had listen to these guys on YouTube. They sound great! Cover is great also.. Edgar Rice Burroughs vintage art..
#2 | Nick C on November 09 2014 13:28:06
Nice - it has a real grit about it, not sugary or wimpy .... yes this is going on my wants list. C'mon payday.
#3 | Nick C on November 09 2014 13:29:53
Nuts to payday.....I'll owe myself the money! Grin
#4 | jeffrey343 on November 26 2014 20:44:39
Are you sure these guys don't have day jobs as a Whitesnake tribute band? They're maybe not as over-the-top as WS was back in the day, but they capture that sound very nicely. Good stuff. This may move into my 2013 top ten as I revise that list over time.

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