Band Website: http://www.sarasin.ca/
Vocals/ Bass – Michael Wilson
Guitars – Greg Boileau
Drums – Roger Banks
1 The Hammer
2 Enemy Within
3 In Our Image
5 Soul in Vain
7 Live to See the Glory
9 Wake Up
Forged in the gritty steel mills of Hamilton, Ontario, Sarasin have long since set themselves apart from the perceived ‘poser’ bands of the 1980’s. Having now built up 35 years of steam behind them (and over 25 different members since then), its admirable to see a band most witnessed in local bars and small venues having now come out of their shell yet again to release a self-titled record that is crafted from every ounce of experience they have between them.
A real success on the album is how it walks you through a variety of styles whist still maintaining a kind of bourbon soaked essence. The album’s opener ‘The Hammer’ announces itself with an explosive hooky thrash onslaught that would see all manner of upper clothing garments being helicoptered in a flash, in what you could only describe as a whirlwind of appreciation.
Presumably as the hangover sets in, ‘Enemy Within’ wakes you up gently in unfamiliar surroundings. As clean and precise notes ring out, highlighting the serenity of a misty cemetery, its not long before a ghostly neighbour hands you a fresh pint and an alco-seltzer and you are ready to go again. This one packs a real swagger and bounce to it.
‘Sinkhole’ would offer a fantastic soundtrack for exacting redemption. The guitars reel you in on a tremolo knife edge as you walk the line towards that inevitable moment where a satisfying hell breaks loose. It carries with it all that feeling of a battle you know you can win. As the grooves marches on and the track draws out, you exit town in a rolled down Cadillac to be greeted with syncopated applause from onlookers and passers by. Every time it seems like the dust might settle, it’s there for all to see that this beast is still standing.
‘Live to See the Glory’ rings out from the off like a rusty Hendrix, reminiscent of classic track – ‘Fire’. The transition from simultaneous guitar riffs finishing off each others sentences, to leading you back down the ghostly trail with nothing more than a change of pace is exemplary of the array of talent in the band’s songwriting and musicianship.
The drummer announces each track with a trademark snare rattle or galloping rhythm which serves as the gate opening to unleash the stallion. The momentum never once verges on frenetic and the pace is controlled exquisitely through bass accentuated synchronicity and they sit perfectly side by side in the mix. Scattered throughout the record, small intricacies offer a little pinch of spice to the flavour and each symbol splash emanates like a ripple, just catching the crest as the audience bounce.
While, at times, the vocal chorus harmonies might grate like fingers on a chalkboard, I don’t think any pretension that the singer is trying to be Ozzy Osborne is one that comes from the band. Sarasin herald themselves for being loyal to their fan-base but they might find that their self-imposed isolation an error in judgement. The band’s web presence could best be described as a work in progress and while they tour consistently through Canada and North America, there is no doubt a fan-base waiting for them on European shores as well. It could be there for the taking if they want it enough.