8 March 2015

Saints Trade - Robbed In Paradise

I think some of the next few blogs will have an Italian flavour, I have been contacted by an Italian promotional agency called Atomic Stuff.  They have asked if we can have a look at a few of the artists on their books.  The first one I am going to look at is a band called Saints Trade and this album called 'Robbed in Paradise'.  Bit of background history here - Saints Trade came together in Bologna in 2009 with (in their words) a passion for Hard Rock music and wanting to create the music of that era as well. In 2010 they were joined by guitarist Claus, who was the person who started the band on the path towards doing their own material and they started to tour around Italy. This album is their second release on the logic(il)logic Records who they have recently signed with.  Classic rock is a tricky beast to tame, you can either stay too faithful and sound like you have nothing original to bring to the table; or you can make your own mark on a genre that is global in representation.  Let’s see which camp Saints Trade fall into.

Starting off this album is "To The Light" which will leave you in no doubt about the band's influences, in their mind it is the 1980's, classic rock is the sound of the day, we all live in America and we all want to be on Sunset Boulevard.  It is a strong introduction to the band, they sound tight and interesting.  Sung in English (I was expecting it to be in Italian to be honest), you can hear bands like Hardline, LA Guns and early Guns 'N' Roses.  It is good opening number for these hard rocking Italians.  "Feel The Fire" is the second number, introducing keyboards to the sound and slowing the speed down just slightly, this is once again a retro number for those who are well versed in the genre and will be a good place to start with people new to the AOR/Hard Rock style.  I do feel that years ago that this would have been one of those numbers which would have been on radio for years before the musical landscape changed with Grunge and the second wave of Alternative rock.  It is a great number that will polarise an audience into fans of the genre or people who head to the bar.  However, it is a number which grows on me and I do think that fans of the genre will enjoy this number a lot.  "Inside" is the slow burning rock out number of the album, taking its time to get to the verses and it has a solo at the beginning (that is so old school and something I miss)!  As it goes on, the number takes it time to unfold and it is worthy of second and third spins after you have first heard it, it also brings to mind the music of the film 'The Lost Boys' which is something I am sure our writer Chris Jermyn will appreciate.  It is a great song and I am warming up to this album more and more, even though I am not the biggest Classic Rock fan if I am honest.

Fourth track "Allied" starts off with the sound of waves that gives way to a hard rock riff the stomps around your brain for hours to come, with the hard rock crunch that seems both old and fresh at the same time.  Is it reinventing the wheel, no I will be honest it is not; but it does not stop it being a really good slice of Hard Rock.  "Like A Woman" is a strange number for me if I am honest, musically it is very impressive and once again it is an AOR driven number, the solos are on first and the rhythm section is as tight as they have always been - the lyrics are the sticking point here, it is something that I have always found with the Hard Rock genre and it does the same here.  It is the ode to the Hard Rock woman comparing the lady to being a man who makes love like a woman.  It is something that just never quite works for me even after all these years.  I was expecting the number and it was not as bad as I thought, but sadly it is not my cup of tea.  Next is the song called "California", it is a love story about being in love with an 16 year old who the protagonist wants to run away with to the California landscape.  It is a strange story which comes across as a dramatic retelling of "Going Blind" from Kiss in a different style, the story telling feels a little bit forced and I did chuckle when an Italian band (with its beautiful landscape and scenery) are setting this tale in the USA;  but that is just me, it is a story in a song which is something that Hard Rock bands have been doing for years, I have heard a lot worse and it is interest enough to keep the listener engaged (if slightly creeped out in places as well).  This is followed on with "Dreams Running Wild", this is the first real ballad number of the album and for a Hard Rock album it is surprising that it has took this long for the ballad to be dropped onto the audience.  This is the number which will divide the audience the most I feel, once again I have to say that it is not really my sort of thing yet I can appreciate the craft on offer here and as ballad numbers go, I have heard a lot worse.

"Siria (Dawn Breaks In)" is the eighth song from the album, it bring back the power to the album and drives the audience along.  There is a brilliant solo trade off and breakdown in the middle of the song where the drums, bass and guitar get their time to shine.  I cannot find anything wrong with this number, it seems to bring the best out of the band to be honest and is another solid number on this album.  "Rock 'n' Roll Man" follows on, with a slower and simpler sound to the record.  Sometimes you need a number which is just a basic and honest song that you want to sing along to, it is not a filler by any stretch of the imagination and it does not lose any of the momentum that has been created on this record; it is another good song from these Italian rockers.  The penultimate number is "Into Your Eyes" which is the second ballad of the album, gentle opening to set the scene, slow solo which sounds like a heart breaking with every note, the lyrics of love and emotion that have been said many times before and a turn into a classic rock number which will produce lighters of mobile phones being swayed in the air in unison to the song as the solo brings this tune to its natural conclusion.  Once more it is not my type of number, but with that said it is better than some of the songs which have been made by more established acts like Bon Jovi over the years; the fact I can see the beauty in the number here is a win for the band in my books.  However, the track does not end on "Into Your Eyes", it ends with the cat and mouse sexual game called "The Game".  It is a fitting ending to the album, once again show casing what they are about; I will not lie and say it is ground breaking, but it does the band (and the album) justice to end on a high.

Now, here is the crux of this review - I am not the biggest lover of the AOR genre, sometimes it does not work for me and it feels as if bands are stuck in a time warp; sometimes it feels natural and it works really well.  Saints Trade actually manage to do both in equal measure on this album if I am honest - a couple of the numbers ("California and "Like a Woman" - I am looking at you) just belong in a time long ago when Vince Neil was thought of as dangerous.  However, the rest of the album is really good; in fact it is one of the best hard rock albums that I heard in years and I do not mean it lightly.  It is a great record that will have fans of the genre in rapture and people like me who are not really into the scene thinking twice about that opinion.  Either way, it is a win-win album for me and something I would recommend to anyone who has the slightest liking of rock music.

Top track - Feel The Fire

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

You can purchase the digital version of the album from Amazon here

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