The Ragged Saints have been working on this follow-up to 2013’s ‘The Sound Of Breaking Free’ since as far back as 2014. Other projects and commitments delayed the release until 2020.
Written by: DaveT
ARTIST: The Ragged Saints
ALBUM: Sonic Playground Revisited
LABEL: AOR Heaven
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Markku Kuikka – vocals * Tomi Julkunen – guitars * Toni Bite – guitars * Jukka Hoffren – bass * Miikki Kunttu – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Never Gonna Let You Down * 02 Like A Spinning Wheel * 03 Take Me With You * 04 Secret In Our Hearts * 05 Just Believe * 06 Absence Of Light * 07 Always Forever * 08 Pretending Diamond * 09 Turning Gold * 10 Supernatural
Hailing from the Capital Region of Helsinki, The Ragged Saints started as a band in 2011, initially with guitarists Tomi and Toni. Singer Markku Kuikka has lent his David Coverdale-like pipes to a number of bands and releases, among them the fantastic ‘Ouroboros’ by Prog Metal squad Status Minor that comes highly recommended.
The Saints have been working on this follow-up to 2013’s ‘The Sound Of Breaking Free’ since as far back as 2014. Other projects and commitments delayed the release until 2020. Whitesnake and Pretty Maids are still the most noticeable influences. However, there’s much more Melodic Rock, less Blues and a more distinctive sound.
Kuikka has the right amount of edge to his voice while the dual guitars provide classy, fat sounding rhythms and solos to complement the songs. Keyboards and orchestration give the recording an occasional symphonic-vibe, opener ‘Never Gonna Let You Down’ as example, where the arrangements emphasize the hook and the more relaxed moments during the verses recall fellow-countrymen Urban Tale.
‘Like A Spinning Wheel’ is a more dramatic affair and ‘Take Me With You’ is a perfect Melodic Rock song for a sunny morning ride with its dreamy, uplifting chorus. ‘Secret In Our Hearts’ is Euro Melodic hard rock, packed with strong riffs stressed by keyboard layers and a thick synth bass.
The semi-acoustic ballad ‘Just Believe’ features a solid vocal performance, orchestration and heavenly harmony vocals. ‘Absence Of Light’ is one of the highlights and my favorite song here, one of those where the keyboards accentuate the heaviness and the ominous ambience, somewhere between Black Sabbath‘s ‘Heaven And Hell’ and Whitesnake‘s ‘Judgement Day’.
Contrarily, ‘Always Forever’ comfortably fits into Bon Jovi‘s ‘7800В° Fahrenheit’ era with a catchy chorus wrapped in keys. Staccato guitars and a soaring chorus shape ‘Pretending Diamond’ while playful keyboard lines frame the bouncing ‘Turning Gold’.
Finally, ‘Supernatural’ is a song that in the hands of many other bands would only pass as average, while here is given life by its chorus and ending orchestration that conclude the album in fine form.
Personality, no fillers in sight and some outstanding songs here, namely ‘Absence Of Light’, ‘Take Me With You’ and opener ‘Never Gonna Let You Down’ just to name a few, on this Melodic Rock fest. It seems The Ragged Saints have aged as good wine does in the seven years since the debut.
Never Gonna Let You Down
Absence Of Light
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