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SANGUINE
www.sanguineband.co.uk
Sanguine, the Exeter based Devon quartet, have been much lauded for their musical eclecticsm under the ever-ambiguous label of alt-metal. 'Black Sheep', their sophomore album, kind of fulfils said hype, although isn't the rampantly diverse work you might be coerced into believing. Aside from some sonic twists and turns within songs, each track is predominantly a well-rounded composition that adheres to tried and tested compositional structures. Rather, the diversity manifests between songs, and this is what makes Sanguine such an interesting band. As the album progresses, albeit paradigmatically predictable in the context of their compositional choices, you never know what to expect as each new song commences. Coupled with their ability to write, arrange and perform some engaging tunes that alternate between guttural power and dulcet lushness, with some well-posited melodies, hooks, and blasts of anthemically charged choruses, this Exeter mob are quite a potent force.

From the off, with the hard-hitting two and a half minute opener, 'Breaking Out', this is gripping stuff, as heavy guitars, samples, pounding bass, dynamic drums and Tarin Kerrey's alternately sung/snarled vocals combine into an effective whole. 'Pretty Girl' follows with its jarring, yet curiously mesmerising, staccato-styled verses, and a fantastic refrain on both the bridge and chorus (plus some neatly layered vocals from Kerrey on the latter, to complement her lead). 'Empty' and 'Save Me' are heavily effective and melodically affective rockers, before Sanguine start to colour their album with a little more light and shade in 'Carousel', as clean guitar parts are contraposed with heavier passages in this down tempo number. Ex-In Flames axeman Jesper Str÷mblad lends his fretboard talents to 'Breathe Out' (or 'Breathe In' if blurb on the accompanying press sheet is to be believed), in what is prime balladic fodder, and where Kerrey's afforded enough space to truly shine through her singing, as she exercises both the fragility and power of her voice with captivating results.

The album's title track is perhaps the darkest moment in proceedings, in terms of melodies and general feeling, although Kerrey's semi-snarled, semi-sung vocals on the chorus don't quite do it for me; her non-committal approach fails to convince, so an all-out guttural delivery might've been a better choice, perhaps overlaid with a clean voice. The punked-up metal attack of 'Social Decay' provides a well-placed sub-three minute burst of energy, while Sanguine venture once more into clean/balladic territory with 'The Blue'. The album climaxes with 'Whole World' and, after a promising build-up on the verse, fails to fully develop into the emotionally explosive crescendos it teases. Thus, the album doesn't quite finish as strong as it could have. There's just something about the execution and arrangement of 'Whole World' that promises so much, but falls a little short in its delivery.

While Sanguine's second full length offering adheres to an eclectic vibe in the context of its metal core, it's more about restrained diversity in each of the songs. Thus, don't expect any kind of wild experimentation Ó la Solefald, Unexpect, Fant˘mas, Shining, Ephel Duath, et al. This is not music that'll satisfy those with a taste for the avant-garde, so don't let the promise of eclecticism mislead you. What you can expect, however, are a series of accomplished compositions with a few stylistic divergences, on an album that offers, instead, unpredictability between songs, and a genuinely fantastic vocal performance from Kerrey.
LABEL:
FORMAT:
Odyssey Music
Album
BLACK SHEEP
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Review by Mark Holmes
RUNNING TIME:
37:31
RELEASE DATE:
29th January 2016
TRACK LISTING
1) Breaking Out
2) Pretty Girl
3) Empty
4) Save Me
5) Carousel
6) Breathe Out
7) Black Sheep
8) Social Decay
9) The Blue
10) Whole World
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
UK
"Coupled with their ability to write, arrange and perform some engaging tunes that alternate between guttural power and dulcet lushness, with some well-posited melodies, hooks, and blasts of anthemically charged choruses, this Exeter mob are quite a potent force."
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