What’s this? A plain kraft paper envelope in my mailbox addressed to “The Meister”! I slid the CD and the accompanying promo package out of the envelope. The cover art was rather uninspiring, let me re-phrase that. The drawing was quite intriguing, a serpent of sorts swallowing itself so that it’s encircled in a ring, but what makes the cover unappealing is the for lack of a better description mustard brown hue that everything is tinted with, not a favorite colour of The Meister. The back cover displayed a faded version of the serpent with the eight track titles imposed over it and the whole package came with a “Promotional Copy” sticker affixed to the outside. The included biography of Sarasin offered much more interesting fare to the Ole Meister. It included phrases such as the opening paragraph: “If you are a classic heavy metal listener and have Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest in your record collection (CHECK), it makes sense to give the new Sarasin CD a listen (OK, I WILL). We haven’t tried to re-invent the wheel (HONESTY AND HUMILITY), but we take great pride in paying homage to our heavy metal Gods with 9 songs (THE BACK OF THE CD SHOWS 8) that fit right into that genre without sounding plagiaristic.” And a little farther down: “Sarasin has been around longer than we care to admit (LOL), and this has afforded us the luxury of playing every shithole in North America (OK YOU GOT A CHUCKLE OUT OF ME).” “With the decline of everything good in life (AHHH….THE ONSET OF GRUNGE AND SEATTLE SCENE) it was clear that by the mid 90’s, even if you had a record deal you were running out of places to play (SAD, BUT TRUE). We’ve always had a loyal fan following based out of Hamilton, Ontario (NICKNAMED AS “THE HAMMER”), but if you’re looking for an extensive Facebook following or super polished website, we apologize (MORE HONESTY). Somehow putting a guitar down to jump on a computer or cell phone never had much appeal for any of us (MORE ON THIS POINT IN A SECOND).” I really liked the underlying humility, honesty and sense of humor running through the bio and right away I was intrigued to check out Sarasin. I loaded the CD into my computer as I do with every disc to add it to my digital library and then transfer to my MP3 player or cell phone for listening on the go. What’s this? There’s actually nine tracks, must be a misprint on the back of the CD. A quick message via Facebook to Roger Banks (drummer and sender of the promo package) results in the correct track listing, but also in him offering me the job of manager since I’m the only one to proofread and catch the track listing error…..or was it a test of some sort?
Let’s get to the tunes. The band from Hamilton, Ontario open their self-titled Sarasin CD with “The Hammer”. This track captures my attention quickly and surprisingly it does not appear to be lyrically concerning their hometown of Hamilton, Ontario nicknamed “The Hammer”. Watch the interview video at the bottom of this review to find out what “The Hammer” is about lyrically. The track has a good, energetic pace with a delicious little solo and some strong vocals. The production seems to be a little dull and muddy, but that’s just fine with me as I prefer a little character to my tunes. Next up is “The Enemy Within” featuring a haunting beginning added to by the thunder & lightening in the background. Before long the track opens up into a pounding grind for a song that has quickly become my favorite of the collection and has made its way onto my daily gym workout playlist along with “The Hammer”. “In Our Image” has a catchy bridge and chorus in this pace-changing composition for another solid track. “Now” charges out of the gates and keeps things moving along nicely, with another memorable chorus adding to an already strong CD outing from Sarasin. Throughout the CD you can easily hear the band’s previously stated influences of Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath while “Soul Invain” opens up another avenue displaying a little Alice In Chains style or feel to it. The slower, chugging pace of “SinkHole” appears next and was the track that was missing from the roster on the back of the disc. The moody and again slower paced track of “Live To See The Glory” follows. The pace and energy ramp up again with the catchiness of “Forevermore” that seems to stay with you days after listening and things close well with “Wake Up” although it’s another slower paced affair.
Not being a particular fan of the slower paced fare, I lost a little interest during “SinkHole” and “Live To See The Glory” or maybe I just have a short attention span. In either case, this is a great CD, with no real weak spots, just a few that outshine the rest. The compositions are strong and the musicianship solid throughout. A high recommendation from The Meister!
Sarasin drummer Roger Banks was kind enough to chat with me a little about the band and the latest Sarasin album. Listen to the highlights from our chat to find out what the song “The Hammer” is all about in the interview video below and check out the song.