SAINT - The Calf
Arriving from the pacific via a runaway locomotive the latest release from metal merchants Saint has arrived! Entitled The Calf, be prepared for a fantastic excursion into the traditional metal landscape that Saint has really carved out as their own. Solid songs, top notch musicianship and world class production, The Calf supplies all of these in abundance.
Let me be clear, if you are expecting Times End Part Two, forget it. This incarnation of Saint features founder Richard Lynch (bass), Jerry Johnson and Matt Smith (guitars) with drummer Jared Knowland and new vocalist Dave Nelson. Nelson will probably get the most scrutiny from fans of long time vocal workhorse Josh Kramer. Make no mistake, Dave Nelson’s grit and gruffness provide a vocal performance which stands right up there with the best of Kramer’s work.
Musically it’s Saint, albeit with some new added elements, guitar melodies that add depth and ambience. The double guitar attack pays off in spades here, adding some twists and turns to the already classic sound. As I mentioned, this isn’t Times End Part Two, so get over it. The Calf is somewhere between Hell Blade and Desperate Night, heavy with perhaps more melody at times. Don’t say “more commercial” because these days what does even mean?
Album opener “The Calf” gets it going full speed ahead with nods to “Psalm 23” and “Rise” with tempo and intensity. “Fragile” supplies heaviness with a slower nod but a driving rhythm. The guitar interplay throughout this album is amongst the most top tier to grace a Saint release. Waiting five years between releases has been a huge payoff in this regard. “The Fall” drives poundingly with its headbanging tempo and surprising guitar melodies.
However, album closer "God is God" is a tour de force. Heavy, pounding with spectacular guitar playing that pushes this song to the stratosphere. Lyrically discussing Jesus with depth and insight, amidst the strong arrangements and vocal performance, one of the best Saint songs ever.
Saint has always had some tracks that were melodic without sacrificing their heaviness, “Through You” from Times End or “The War is Over” from Too Late For Living come immediately to mind. In that regard, both “Stormy Night” and “Another Day” fit that bill, both are slightly “subdued” with a stronger emphasis on melody. “Stormy Night” is the stronger of the two songs here with fantastic arranging and some tasty guitar playing. Its message of endurance is a fantastic one, reminding us to press in the Lord.
The entire album is supposed to flow one song to another with a continuing theme throughout. Lyrically, there is a depth that strikes me here, not just a “turn or burn” message but a discussion that is frank, open and honest. Part of the development and growth to this listener's ears, this growth is appreciated with a round of applause.
The Calf is undoubtedly one of the FINEST releases that Richard Lynch and company have released. It also deserves to sit amongst the finest releases of 2019. Traditional heavy metal with thinking man's edge lyrically; make sure you grab a copy of this soon to be classic of the metal genre. SAINT returns!! CRANK IT UP!!!