Escape Music [Release date 29.09.14]
Saracen are back after their last album, the concept piece ‘Marilyn’ based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. This album sees the band back to basics, in that there is no concept although they do revisit two songs from their debut album ‘Heroes, Saints & Fools’.
Saracen with their mini-epics, often reliant on a big guitar riff and keyboards backing, remind me of fellow UK hard rockers Demon (now there’s a tour bill made in heaven!). Take a song like opener ‘Rocamadour’ coming in on a rollicking keyboards riff before the guitars take over, sterling stuff. They are bang up to date with ‘Reacher’, based on the main man Jack Reacher from the bestselling author Lee Child.
Bit of prog creeping in on ‘Swords Of Damascus’, again the keys lead in nicely before that guitar riff grabs you and Steve Bettney’s vocals, powerful and melodic a perfect match for the music.
Of the two remakes, ‘Crusader’ has plenty going on in its seven minutes. Only one real ballad, ‘You & I’ where Karenska Kerr adds a nice female vocal and it manages to hold its own with all the hard rocking going on elsewhere on the album.
Original members’ guitarist/lyricist Rob Bendelow and vocalist Steve Bettney are still at the heart of the band and the keys of Paul Bradder (a member since the early 00’s) are an integral part of the band’s overall sound.
This album is definitely one of their heaviest to date, never metal per se more the heavier end of melodic hard rock. Good, strong collection of songs and good to see the band are still making great music, now all we need are some live dates please. ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
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