Dropkick Murphys – Signed and Sealed in Blood

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Review by Phil Wilson

Dropkick Murphys became synonymous with all things celtic and punk with their 1998 debut release Do or Die. The style became interwoven with their working class political beliefs, creating a musical beast which has wormed its way throughout their entire discography. The group saw in the dawning days of 2013 with their eighth studio release to date: Signed and Sealed in Blood. The release is a step away from Going Out..’s biography of the fictional Cornelius Larkin, and a noticeable shift towards classic Murphys caper.

The record opens its doors with ‘The Boys Are Back’, a fittingly named and adequately energetic reaffirmation of the band’s status. Roaring bagpipes, heavy, driving chorus, a synergetic wall of noise from the guitars – a warm, audio-embrace for any fan. Spilling over from as early as the third track is the group’s abundant enthusiasm and eagerness to be back in a studio and recording new material. An exponential energy which reaches breaking point by fourth track, ‘Burn’. Totalling at just over two and a half minutes, ‘Burn’ is a feat of unabridged vivacity which is channelled through impressive banjo work and a contagious rhythm and beat. However, the first (and vital) rest for breath, comes in the form ‘Jimmy Collins’ Wake’ – a recording littered with delicate melodies, creative employment of percussion and classic folk styled instrumental work. Arguably one of the better structured examples from the album, each member contributes just the right amount, at just the right times, to create an excellent break in momentum.

Signed and Sealed… is structured in a clever chronology of different styles, with each offering standing apart from its predecessor with arms open wide for its successor. ‘The Season’s Upon Us’ (which can be heard above) is the strangest variation in style, yet: self deprecating, festive laden, and immersed in Murphys humour: “My nephew’s a horrible, wise little twit/ He once gave me a nice gift wrapped box full of shit/ He likes to pelt carollers with icy snowballs/ I’d like to take him out back and deck more than the halls” Indisputably the dark horse of the album, and possibly a contender for next Christmas’ Shirk-The-Trend-Christmas-Number-One.

The album is a record roiling with its share of anthemic, sullen and fun song-writing, which incorporates many varieties of styles and tone. Particular plaudits must be given for ‘End Of The Night’s almost doo-wop style of play, and for ‘Out on The Town’s evolved take on classic rock ‘n’ roll. As fresh as ever, Signed and Sealed in Blood is an impressive eighth outing for Massachusetts’ finest punk group. Here’s hoping for another eight.

Dropkick Murphys - Signed and Sealed in Blood8 out of 10

Track Listing:

1.   The Boys Are Back
2.   Prisoner’s Song
3.   Rose Tattoo
4.   Burn
5.   Jimmy Collins’ Wake
6.   The Season’s Upon Us
7.   The Battle Rages On
8.   Don’t Tear Us Apart
9.   My Hero
10.  Out Of Our Heads
11.  Out On The Town
12.  End Of The Night