Formed in 2004, four piece British alt rock/metal band Sanguine have managed relative success.The group, fronted by vocalist Tarin Kerrey, have played multiple festivals including Download and Bloodstock, and also played support slots for bands such as Megadeth, Fear Factory, Skindred, and Mushroomhead. Having released their first professional studio album “Black Sheep” in 2016 to critical acclaim, Sanguine have finally offered up a new collection of songs, in the form of their newest release “Cold Blood”.
Unfortunately I have to start this review on a relatively negative note, by saying that the vocals and lyrics in this album let it down horrendously in places. Tarin Kerrey’s screamed vocals are, by and large, bad. This is a stark contrast to her clean vocals, which can be captivating and exciting to listen to in many of the songs. Where her clean vocals range from delicate to powerful, and provide in places, an exciting edge and aggression, her screams are unfortunately nothing short of difficult to listen to. Harsh, shrill, strained and all round distressing, many of her screamed lines are reminiscent of the sound you would get if there was a particularly harsh wind blowing down an alleyway, or across the snow covered landscape of the arctic. A completely unnecessary addition to the songs, when the band has a perfectly competent screamer already in guitarist Nick Magee. That’s not to say that only her cleans are good though. There remain songs where Tarin manages to add a bit of raspy vocal fry to her cleans that do enhance the feel of songs, “5 Seconds To Midnight” being a prime example of this. On the other hand, “Summer Son” may arguably provide the worst example of unclean vocals in the album, with the songs namesake lyrical passage being shrieked over and over badly. Just on the basis of vocals, we are already given an album that is majorly hit and miss. When topped with lyrical content which is predominantly cliche in both words and themes, it becomes disappointing as well. Good vocals and lyrics can lift an album massively, and unfortunately Sanguine fail to deliver on this front.
The instrumental side of the album however is on a whole, much better than the vocals.
A mix of light synth, chunky guitars, growling bass and tight drums, Cold Blood has a great energy, especially in its more up tempo songs. Each song sounds suitably different from the previous one, meaning the album manages to remain interesting to listen to throughout, with varied riffs, and tempos steering the album well clear of being repetitive, whilst also being similar enough as to keep Cold Blood coherent, in that every song feels as though it belongs in this album.
While most songs on Cold Blood have a relatively energetic vibe to them, “Raised By Wolves” throws a major curve ball, taking a much heavier metal route. With predominantly screamed vocals throughout from guitarist Nick, and a weighty, chugging guitar riff, Raised By Wolves feels like an exciting and dark break from the rest of the albums lighter more melodic and energetic songs. “5 Seconds To Midnight” and “Pressure” are both also genuinely very enjoyable songs. Pressure, which sits at the very start of the album, is a rousing and all round fun song to listen to. Aspects of synth, mixed with a chunky driving, guitar riff, and a solid, thumping drum beat make for great instrumentals in this song that could get almost any listener wanting to dance (or at the very least nod their head to the beat).This, mixed with Tarin’s strong clean vocals produces an exciting and intense song that fits its name well. Halfway into the album we come to the other song I mentioned, 5 Seconds To Midnight. Easily the best song on the album, it provides a mix of gentle cleans in the verses, and slightly fried, powerful vocals in the chorus which really showcase Tarin’s ability as a singer. Aside from the singing in this song being much better than it is in most of the other songs, 5 Seconds To Midnight also excels in that it is the catchiest and most memorable song on the album. Each verse starts out with an almost mysterious lyrical vibe, followed by more powerful lines that lead into the very much anthemic chorus. All while being driven forwards by the gritty guitars and rhythmic drums that form the basis of the song.
Overall the album is not brilliant. The decision to include Tarin’s bad screaming serves only to bring the album down massively, but the album has saving graces in other aspects such as its instrumentation. Pressure and 5 Seconds To Midnight are songs I can see myself revisiting in the future, but the majority of songs fall just short of being truly worth listening to.
Highlights: 5 Seconds To Midnight, Pressure
Cold Blood is out now and available to buy here and on all major platforms.