I’ve been following the Finnish band Bloodred Hourglass since I was lucky enough to run into their semi-debut album, Where the Oceans Burn (2015). In this work, they showed a unique style and freshness that led me to listen to all the songs over and over again without stopping for weeks and weeks, becoming one of my favorite melodeath albums that has resisted stoically over time and has aged very well, to the point that I still listen to its songs frequently even now, four years later.
Taking into account such a precedent, their next release, Heal (2017) made me wonder: would it be a worthy successor? Would it still have the same freshness? Had their previous album been just a stroke of luck or were really these guys geniuses? It was enough to listen to the album a couple of times to realize that it was the second. The same style, although a little more focused and moderated than in their previous work, was at its height, touching perfection again.
And a few days ago, Bloodred Hourglass released a new album, Godsend (2019). Again, the same fears that with its predecessor assaulted me while examining the cover art of the album. The artistic style of the drawing was coherent with the previous ones, so that gave me confidence that there would be nothing to fear. And I wasn’t wrong. Another big album to the backpack of this band. Because, what can I say about Godsend that I haven’t already said for their other two albums? All the elements of melodeath are there, in their proper measure. The lead guitar and the melodies are impressive, you cannot get them out of your head in hours, you cannot stop humming while you listen to the songs. The drums, the rhythm guitar and everything that has to do with rhythm in general comes out on top, with constant variations that make no section of the songs boring. And the keyboards and choirs, a detail that I love about this band, are always there, giving depth to the sound and decorating the themes, but without abuse or getting corny. The vocals continue in the characteristic style of the band, alternating between scream and growl.
As for the style, there are not many changes with respect to its predecessors, but it is a style so rich in small details, so carefully crafted, so deep that it doesn’t matter, the songs are still interesting, completely distinguishable between each other, but staying within a set, something very difficult to achieve. It seems that they have reached the Holy Grail of the inexhaustible formula. In the case of Godsend, they have tried to go towards a more direct approach, being the majority of songs of short length and following the conventional structure verse/chorus /verse/bridge/coda, without giving a moment of respite to the listener with a frenetic rhythm. This shorter length for songs contrasts with what we found in Where the Oceans Burn, that was opened and closed by two ten minutes long songs, while the rest used to be longer than five minutes. But although I personally like the long songs, cutting them short is not necessarily bad, since it also makes listening to the album more “fun”, in the style of the short but forceful songs of The Black Dahlia Murder, for example . As small negative points, to put something, I would have appreciated more elaboration in the intros of some songs, which went too fast to the point in my opinion. In addition, most of the songs, being of less duration than previously but having a large lyrical part, have seemed to me vocally overloaded.
The first single that opens the album, Waves of Black, as always happens with the singles of this band, is not the song that worked best for me, but the thing improves greatly with The Unfinished Story and the powerful riffs with which it starts and a melody that moves between epic and melancholy. The guitar solos of the bridge do not disappoint either. And from here, everything goes smoothly. Devourer continues the path of the previous one, with a similar structure based on hard riffs in the verses and catchy melody in the chorus, this time accompanied by synthesizers, and a bridge that is one of the best of the album. The next track, Alysia, stands out from the previous two starting with a melodic section reinforced by piano notes that leads to another succession of riffs. Although it is still very enjoyable, the melody this time didn’t get me hooked as much, as it seemed more conventional to me. Much more convincing is My Route, with a synthesizers intro that comes back here and there during the tune and much tremolo riffing during the verses, a detail that I liked to listen combined with the style of the band. The final section is incredible, another of the best moments of the album. The strength of Pieces, another of the most powerful songs includes an excellent lead guitar in some of its sections that makes the song truly epic and a somewhat more open structure than in previous cases. Ask and You Shall Receive perfectly matches the tone of the previous song, although it has a little less melodic variation that can make it repetitive. August has a melody that, as soon as you listen to it a couple of times, becomes perfectly recognizable and gets you hooked like a drug, besides that the variations of rhythm in this case are so addictive too. One of the best on the record, without any doubt. Already in the final stretch, On My Throne opens with some more acid and aggressive riffs that give a touch of novelty and the excellent and epic melody to which at this point we are accustomed, highlighting again the guitar solos on the bridge. The final touch is put by White Feather, which opens with a melancholic piano melody and that is to Godsend what was Requiem of Our Last Days to Heal.
So in the end, I have no choice but to take my hat off again to Bloodred Hourglass. Excellent work, excellent production, excellent instrumentation … You should fly to listen to this record, and the previous ones, if you havent’t done it yet. Totally recommended, 10/10.
P.D .: a tip for the future. Since your melodies are monsters and you handle transitions between different sections of a composition so well, which was evident in the long songs of Where the Oceans Burn, you are losing great potential and talent if you just follow the conventional structure of verse/chorus/ etc. in all the songs and also you risk that your formula, which works very well at this time, runs out, so it’d be very interesting and enriching if you introduced some variation on this from time to time.