Fire Note Says: Dropkick Murphys return with one of their biggest sounding and most engaging albums to date.
Album Review: “The boys are back; the boys are back; and they are looking for trouble” is the first big anthem call out line from Celtic punk rockers Dropkick Murphys eighth full length studio record Signed And Sealed In Blood. The record finds the band in their 17th year in a very comfortable position of having a large following and ongoing successful touring. This take the world by storm attitude comes through loud and clear with their guitars turned up and the background vocals made to sound like 10,000 people in a stadium.
All of this focus on songwriting, bigger sound and staying true to their spirit works for the Dropkick Murphys as Signed And Sealed In Blood is one of their most fun and engaging records to date. The opening “The Boys Are Back” is the perfect start as the song features hard driven guitar punk, a bit of bagpipes and plenty of raise your fists sing along moments. The over five minute “Rose Tattoo” also gets your blood pumping as the song is a reflection on family and commitment which hits the root of the album title and core of the band.
The Dropkick Murphys definitely took some risks with their overall sound here on Signed And Sealed In Blood as they enlisted engineer James R. Brown (Foo Fighters) and Joe Chiccarelli (The White Stripes) for the first time along with longtime collaborator producer Ted Hutt. Going this direction the band could have ended up with a way too polished sound but their punk heart blows the roof off things and keeps the polish in the back drawer. The slightly angry gruff of lead singer Al Barr ensures to keep songs “real” but there is a maturity to his voice here that injects positive vigor into tracks while the band shows their lighter side on the Christmas tune “The Season’s Upon Us” which just tells it like it is!
The Dropkick Murphys will probably never be a household name but their veteran status in the Celtic punk world will never fade and the solid effort here with Signed And Sealed In Blood could even reach out beyond their faithful fan base. If you have never heard one single song from the Dropkick Murphys there is no reason you can’t start here with tracks like the boozing “Out Of Our Heads” to the excellent guitar driving “My Hero”. Signed And Sealed In Blood tells the story of a band doing the best they can and for the Dropkick Murphys that is damn good right now!
Key Tracks: “Rose Tattoo”, “My Hero”, “The Boys Are Back”
Artists With Similar Fire: Bad Religion / The Pogues / Flogging Molly
-Reviewed by Christopher Anthony
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