REVIEW: Bloodred Hourglass – Your Highness

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“The Best Is Yet to Come” is not only a song by SCORPIONS, but also an inspirational quote that often adorns many Pinterest boards around the globe. In the case of melodic death metal band BLOODRED HOURGLASS, it’s something we really wanted to be true, considering their previous record, “Godsend,” was easily their best effort to date. Songs like “Waves of Black” are still some of the catchiest melodic death metal tracks released in recent years, to the point where we have been wondering whether the band really could top the record with their next release. We’re here now to tell you whether they have succeeded, since their fifth full-length album, “Your Highness,” is going to be released on October 22nd, 2021, via Out Of Line Music.

If the name BLOODRED HOURGLASS hasn’t hit your radar yet, you are either seriously missing out or you straight-up don’t like melodic death metal. The sextet from Mikkeli is easily one of the freshest melodic death metal acts the north has to offer these days, which is instantly clear in “Your Highness.” This is an album in which the band allowed themselves to take their sound to the next level, fine-tune it, and even experiment with new elements. This is not instantly clear upon listening to the record, however, as the first couple of tracks are songs that kind of follow a similar path to what we are used to from the band. “Leaves” is a classic opener; energetic and an instant attention-grabber for the listener. It has a beautiful calmer section where the lead guitar and drums create a certain atmosphere that seems appropriate for the theme of the record: a collection of stories of appreciation towards all the women in the band’s past lives.

This record’s “Waves of Black” is perhaps “Drag Me the Rain,” which is an equally catchy track, with an incredible chorus, which very briefly already introduces one of the many new elements in the band’s sound. While sparsely used in this song, the use of clean vocals here and there gives another dimension to this track. “Nightmares Are Dreams Too” continues the same recipe: incredible melodies, heavy riffs, and a sort of fragility that is hard to put a finger on. “Leave Out All the Rest” is the first track on this record where you can actually feel a little bit of a change, with more modern elements introduced into the sound, while at the core remains very BLOODRED HOURGLASS, especially in the guitars and vocals. It feels as if the band has carefully crafted the tracklist so that you can ease into it.

A fan on YouTube once described “Veritas” as a song that makes them want to break into someone’s house and toast all their bread and put it back in the bag. That might very well be the most fitting description anyone could give to this track. It’s simply the kind of song that deserves to be a single, with a lot of hooks, excellent energy throughout, and for a love song, is absolutely not a cliché (singer Jarkko Kaukonen described this as a ballad in our interview; if all ballads were like this, maybe I would like them more). Things turn around a little bit with the emotional “Tell Me About Yesterday Tomorrow.” With a beautiful acoustic guitar intro, the band winds down the tempo and ultimately shows that there are still some sides of this band that we have not yet been acquainted with. Nice to meet you, new BLOODRED HOURGLASS side, what a welcome surprise! First of all, this track has a somewhat doomier timbre – slower, and darker. For the most part, the guitars are acoustic and intertwine beautifully with the bass. Kaukonen focuses on clean vocals in this track and only starts growling as the song progresses and transforms into a more melodic death metal feast towards the end, which gives this song an extra twist.

While “Tell Me About Yesterday Tomorrow” felt like a bit of a breather, we can’t regroup for very long, as “Change of Heart” soon kicks in with an angry growl, pounding drums, and persistent riffing. Halfway through the song, the anger makes room for a more serene passage, then it twists again full-force with incredible melodies, blast-beats, and ultimately an excellent guitar solo. “Gone For Now” starts with a more electronic intro at the beginning; this mood and tempo pursue throughout the track, yet the chorus turns up the distortion a notch and includes growls, heavy riffs, and aggressive drumming.

“Kings & Queens” has a nice contrast, as the riffs and vocals sound rough and almost violent, but the melodies sound nothing less than beautiful, yet these elements work together in perfect harmony. A more heart-wrenching song is “My Prime of Kneel,” starting off softly again, with yet another example of how versatile the vocals are on this record. Midway through, there’s an incredible guitar passage that adds extra flavor and altogether this is one of the tracks where I feel that the band has been able to have a lot of fun with certain experiments – it’s absolutely one of my favorite tracks on this album. The acoustic intro of “Until We Meet Again” has a fairytale-like aspect to it, as it transforms beautifully into a metal track, with the melody still being an important factor. While it starts off slowly, it has some character, goes through different moods, exploring different modern sounds. Twisting and turning, it’s a perfect illustration of how the band has grown throughout their existence. Ultimately, it leaves you with a warm feeling. A tip to make this record extra good: put it on repeat! The last song flows beautifully into the first one.

There is something about “Your Highness” that makes this album sound like it came straight from the heart, whether it’s the mesmerizing melodies, the aggression, the aspect of storytelling that is often felt throughout this album, or the heartfelt lyrics and vocals. While listening to these tracks, I believe every word of what Jarkko Kaukonen is singing, which is a quality that not too many bands share these days. Perhaps it’s the fact that the band’s sound is not overly polished. There is something still raw and edgy about their music, which makes it sound incredibly honest.

Given the fact that the band went through a lineup change, it’s logical that their sound has evolved a little bit. These songs, while at the core still very BLOODRED HOURGLASS, make room for modern elements that sound more progressive in nature. Tracks like “Tell Me About Yesterday Tomorrow,” “Gone for Now,” “My Prime of Kneel,” and “Until We Meet Again” specifically show a different side of the band that doesn’t stray away from their core sound. In “Your Highness,” it feels like BLOODRED HOURGLASS have tried to rebuild the framework of what their approach to melodic death metal is. While tearing down the walls, they have created a breath of fresh air, creating their best album to date.

Tracklist

  1. Leaves
  2. Drag Me the Rain
  3. Nightmares Are Dreams Too
  4. Leave Out All the Rest
  5. Veritas
  6. Tell Me About Yesterday Tomorrow
  7. Change of Heart
  8. Gone for Now
  9. Kings & Queens
  10. My Prime of Kneel
  11. Until We Meet Again

Lineup

Jarkko Koukonen – vocals
Jarkko Hyvönen – drums
Jose Moilanen – bass
Lauri Silvonen – guitar
Joni Lahdenkauppi – guitar
Eero Silvonen – guitar

Label

Out Of Line Music

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