Dropkick Murphys
Signed And Sealed In Blood


3.0
good

Review

by Ali CONTRIBUTOR (130 Reviews)
January 3rd, 2013 | 19 replies | 2,727 views


Release Date: 01/08/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Diminishing returns...

It pains me to say it, but as a long-term, borderline obsessive fan I really don't see where Dropkick Murphys have left to go. An established staple of America's Celtic punk scene, the Bostoners have spent the past 17 years enhancing and arguably even defining the genre with the fine and thoroughly consistent reaches of their back catalogue. Hitting their stride in the early '00s, the seven-piece delivered a string of records in Sing Loud, Sing Proud! Blackout and The Warrior's Code which all but perfected their niche, with the latter achieving a level of commercial success only matched by subsequent outings. With that in mind, 2011's Going Out In Style stood as something of a final creative frontier; a relatively lavish concept album which, while not wholly removed from a musical perspective represented without doubt their most ambitious and expansive foray to date. It didn't quite belong in their top tier, but that wasn't so much an issue as the fact it left such little leeway regarding their next move.

Perhaps wary of progression for progression's sake, the group adopted quite the opposite approach for this eighth studio LP. According to bassist Ken Casey, it's "just us having fun and making the most catchy, singalong songs we can;" in other words, a record made on impulse for their fans, especially those who carry their mark in tattooed form. It's a universal, brothers-in-arms motif that's existed right from their street-punk roots, yet one which until now has never been alluded to with such hefty weight of feeling. It does, of course, help that the title and some of the songs on Signed And Sealed In Blood make explicit reference, and it's no coincidence they're the strongest on offer. 'The Boys Are Back' for instance opens proceedings with the type of purposeful masculine romp they've long since mastered, and although slightly predictable carries a passion and bluster that's difficult to resist. The same is true of 'Rose Tattoo,' a fabulous, rousing ode to their art-embroidered followers rife with refrains such as "with pride I'll wear it to the grave for you" and "signed and sealed in blood, I would die for you," the power of which is undeniable.

Unfortunately, they prove to be exceptions as opposed to exemplifiers, with other material by and large illustrating the dangers of pandering to existing converts. Perhaps at the head is the air of complacency it can spawn, an understandable but near-chronic fault this album undoubtedly suffers from. The playing is as intense as ever, the gang cries are drilled to perfection and Al Barr's vocals are spat with untamed vigour, but in truth these elements hardly matter when set to songs which sound so tired and tossed off, devoid of both risk and excitement. If some of them sound overly familiar, that's probably because they are. 'Out Of Our Heads' is case in point, it's upbeat banjo being practically identical to that of Going Out In Style's 'Climbing A Chair To Bed' whilst offering nothing in the way of improvement or acknowledgement by means of justification. Then, of course there's the baffling inclusion of festive tune 'The Season's Upon Us;' one I thoroughly enjoyed belting out a week ago yet can't see resonating in a month's time, never mind come the middle of July. That particular number would surely have been better served as a stand-alone single or separate bonus track - not lumped into a collection released mid-January and designed to be enjoyed the year around.

In some ways, it's difficult to criticise Dropkick Murphys for planting themselves in a comfort zone. This, after all, is a band that's fulfilled (and probably far surpassed) everything it originally set out to do, and as such should probably be allowed the odd shot of indulgence. There are in fairness moments where Signed And Sealed In Blood's slack approach works wonders, but all too often they're undermined by a subconscious reluctance to excel beyond the minimum requirement. The end result is a record that's perfectly adequate, yet arguably their weakest to date - and a future which could well rest on their willingness to break free of such idle practises.



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good
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Calc
January 3rd 2013



12007 Comments


seems like not only ray lewis should retire..

Digging: Kashiwa Daisuke - April. #02

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 3rd 2013



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Album stream: http://teamcoco.com/content/dropkick-murphys-signed-and-sealed-in-blood-exclusive-album-preview

Also posted at: http://www.muzikdizcovery.com/

This is my first review in way too long... feedback appreciated.

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
January 3rd 2013



3344 Comments


Good review, have a pos. I may give more specific feedback later but right now I don't have much time. One thing is that you say "stable" when you mean "staple" (I hope).

Also, living near Boston the radio stations have been hyping this like crazy. Disappointed to see it's average.

cvlts
January 3rd 2013



8954 Comments


new DKM? damn... I've been slouchin

InfamousGrouse
January 3rd 2013



3196 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I want to hear this but I know exactly what I'm gonna be getting so I dunno if I can be bothered.

Digging: Jackson C. Frank - Jackson C. Frank

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 3rd 2013



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@TheBrostepGuy - Thanks for the nitpick, I'll sort that out. It's a decent record, but if you're looking for something beyond more of the same you'll probably be disappointed. InfamousGrouse's comment sums it up really.

Apollo
January 3rd 2013



10266 Comments


I fucking love this band. Great review and I'm sure it's bang on.

FelixCulpa
January 3rd 2013



1237 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review Ali. I quite enjoyed this record though, but I have never really dwelt to much into Dropkicks albums so this album doesn't really sound rehashed to my ears but I understand the criticism.

klap
Staff Reviewer
January 3rd 2013



10258 Comments


i think its Bostonians

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

renegadestrings
January 3rd 2013



1435 Comments


is it just me or does Prisoner's Song = I'm Shipping Up to Boston?

that being said, i dig the album, but i completely agree... it sounds like the band has run its course

RiffOClock
January 4th 2013



986 Comments


worst. band. ever

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 4th 2013



3335 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Great review man, have a pos. The record is disappointing and I hate the fact that Ken Casey sings so much. His voice is annoying. He should let Al Barr do his thing.

Digging: Karma To Burn - Arch Stanton

skoopy48
January 4th 2013



1440 Comments


dang i was hoping this would be better, still gonna check it out

foxblood
January 4th 2013



6797 Comments


need to check this

essenceoftong
January 5th 2013



7 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i think it's slightly better than the review makes out. really like the last song, end of the night, it reminds me a little of rainy night in soho

InfamousGrouse
January 6th 2013



3196 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

The record would be like a 3.5 if I hadn't been hearing the same recycled songs for like ten years.



AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 6th 2013



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I think that's harsh. Obviously they have their formula and they've tended to stick to what they know, but for me this is the first record where things have started to sound a little stale.

The tone of the review is a little more negative than I originally intended. It probably reads more like a 2.5.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
January 7th 2013



7317 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review. The album's less stellar than their previous one.

Digging: Dog Fashion Disco - Sweet Nothings

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
January 7th 2013



19462 Comments


didn't think their last album was bad at all

Digging: The Who - Tommy



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