01.Sweet Dreams of Madness
05.Night Touches You
06.Tabula Rasa II (Nothing at All)
08.Master of My Dreams
09.Twisted Kind of Fate
10.All Rights Reserved
11.The Crying Kitten (Instrumental) (*Bonus)
Bloodbound’s first two albums were generally a mixed bag of melodic metal. 2005’s “Nosferatu” was a much more traditional power metal affair, while 2007’s “Book of the Dead” somewhat explored the hard rock world courtesy of ex-Jaded Heart vocalist Michael Bormann. Now, with 2009’s “Tabula Rasa”, the band has seen the return of their original vocalist, ex-Tad Morose front man Urban Breed. To say the least, he is in fine form here. The album’s name is derived from the latin for “Blank Slate”, and I think this says a lot about the album. A lot of the lyrics here are dealing with subjects of starting over, and changing the past, or at least changing for the future. Also, I think the title may have been used to somehow represent the supposed “clean slate” in the return of an ex-member. Either way , I feel the album’s title was very fitting.
Things get off to a very heavy start, as per the intro to “Sweet Dreams of Madness”. This really helps to establish the tone of the album. Gone are the Iron Maiden-esque “whoa” melodies and harmonized leads, and in have come some very heavy, almost thrashy, melodic death metal-esque riffs. Fans of melodic power metal fear not, for the band has retained it’s great sense of melody, it is just used as a counterpoint to really great heavy edge the new style of riffs bring. The album’s opening track also helps to establish another big theme of the album – killer hooks and very memorable, powerful choruses. The breakdown before the solo also has a really great set of riffs accompanied by a more rhythmically driven vocal passage. “Dominion 5” moves in more of a melodic death metal rhythmic direction as far as the rhythm guitars go, show from just the very intro. Again, great hooks, melodies, and riffs abound. The final vocal-driven section is probably my favorite 20-odd seconds on the whole disc. “Take One” is the band’s choice for a pre-release single and is more or less in the same vein, although probably a bit less heavy and a bit more power metal-esque. The album’s odd pair of title tracks are among the more catchy pieces on the album, mainly the predecessor. We are given the basic “obligatory” ballad in the form of “Night Touches You”, though it is certainly less predictably ballad-like and cheesy than the ballad offering from “Book of the Dead”. The second half of the album is, as almost expected, a little less impressive than the first. However, this is not to say it is in any way bad. The songs just aren’t quite as good as those dominating the first half. Near the end of the effort, “All Rights Reserved” proves to be another highlight.
In summary, I think Tabula Rasa is a VERY big and important step forward for this band. One of the first things I noticed is that these songs are averagely shorter than those on the band’s first two albums, and I think they benefit from that. I think the band managed to trim unnecessary fat off of many of the tracks, such as over-repeated choruses and excess runs through the same harmonies. The result is a very punchy and aggressive, yet amazingly melodic and memorable modern melodic metal album. I think this album has enough heaviness to satisfy all those people who bitch that power metal is often just ball-less fairy music, yet also has melodies and hooks out the ass to satisfy all of the people who love melodic metal and are looking to get that out the album. All in all, this is definitely the first 2009 release I have heard that has actually wowed me, and I think that my top albums list come December will favor it quite well.