In 2011, Dropkick Murphys gave the concept album a try with Going Out in Style. Enjoying the experience but getting a few headaches along the way, the band jumped straight back into the studio for a more straightforward new record, Signed and Sealed in Blood. And it’s another pure blast of Celtic-tinged punk, with familiar themes of drinking, baseball, and sailing.
Opening with the triumphant “The Boys are Back,” the album is subtly varied. Keeping The Pogues’ formula fresh seems difficult, but Dropkick Murphys delivers again with skillful songwriting and obvious passion. The tunes are all sing-a-longs, destined for a debauched, Guinness-soaked house party and Fenway Park alike.
- Lincoln Eddy
Following a release overseas, French metalcore quartet Vera Cruz now makes a fist-pumping, head-banging, mosh-inducing debut in the US with Skinandteethandnails, the band’s first release for home-country label Season of Mist.
On the 11-song full-length, the down-tuned fury intermixes with a handful of melodic choruses and clean vocals, and a few other surprises turn up unexpectedly. “Black Walls” is the best example of said surprises, as a minute of high-octane punk/hardcore transitions from a final screamed phrase to an eerie, lengthy, plunking banjo outro with a whistling background.
The heaviness — closest on the spectrum to punk-ish, chugging metalcore — is a blend of Every Time I Die, Trash Talk, and Hatebreed. Prepare for breakdowns galore.
- Scott Morrow
Broadcast: Berberian Sound Studio soundtrack (Warp)
The Herbaliser: There Were Seven (Department H / Redeye)
Il Sogno del Marinaio: La Busta Gialla (Clenchedwrench)
Kontinuum: Earth Blood Magic (Candlelight)
Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals / Warbeast: War of the Gargantuas split EP (Housecore)