Ah, BLOODBOUND, my arch nemesis in the Power Metal genre. To say that I was royally underwhelmed by their first two albums is an understatement, so that the prospect of reviewing the Swedes’ third album “Tabula Rasa” was not high up on the things to look forward to during the year 2009, but as I already had done the first two, I just felt it right to also give the third effort a spin and see, if they progressed and into which direction. One big plus (even though he had not salvaged the debut) is the return of former TAD MOROSE vocalist Urban Breed, who I still think is one of the best Metal singers out there, the question is, though, if the music finally can catch up with it.
One thing that is evident throughout the album is the overall darker mood of the songs, which at times have this almost brooding quality to them, which fits BLOODBOUND well and gives it some more character and this positive foreboding also at least partially finds its way into the album overall. Opener “Sweet Dreams Of Madness” surprises me with nice heaviness in the guitars and good melodies, so it seems as if they got over the hump and are now churning out really quality music! “Dominion 5” has a very nicely catchy chorus, while “Take One” cranks up the heaviness a little while maintaining this catchiness, this is building up to be an excellent piece of Metal! Well, almost, because often if things seem too good to be true, they are and “Tabula Rasa” is no exception, because unfortunately the tidal wave begins to ebb a little after this.
The title track is up-paced and catchy, but not only annoys the solo the hell out of me, the song, while not bad, cannot grip me, neither can the reprise “Tabula Rasa, Pt. 2 (Nothing At All)”, where I am not sure why you have to have something like that just two songs after the “original”... “Night Touches You”, which is sandwiched between the two, though, is one of the best tracks here, part ballad, part Metal, very good vocal line and chorus, this is the stuff this album should be made of from beginning to end (no, not 10 songs that sound the same, the quality)! And overall in the second half the Swedes run a little out of steam, as they fail to continue the high level of quality, nothing bad but just nothing that stands out in any way, with “Plague Doctor” and “All Rights Reserved” being the exceptions to this “rule”.
So “Tabula Rasa” is a definitive improvement over the first two albums and is the by far strongest effort to date, still it is not an absolute highflyer, as there still are too many ho-hum tracks left...
(Online December 2, 2009)