Album Review: Dropkick Murphys ‘Signed and Sealed in Blood’

I’m going to be completely honest with you off the top: The expectation here is that this will sound like every other Dropkick Murphys album, which is something they can get away with because nobody else is really making celtic punk party music. It’s a surprisingly strong niche for one with so little room, where these boys have long reigned as kings and show no signs of surrendering the throne.

The risk here is that this won’t sound like every other Dropkick Murphys album, which would be bad because every release so far has been, you know, good. Pretty good, anyway, and the only way I can imagine this one being particularly different is for it to be sub-par, or even boring. We don’t want that.

I haven’t actually listened to it yet. Poor reviewing form, I guess, but this review should write itself in much the same way a Dropkick Murphys album does. I’ll put on my headphones here, though, and do the rest of this review proper-like.

This is an album full of love songs, but it would be hard to know that at times without paying close attention. They can be very subtle, and this band has a knack for weaving a delicate metaphor, looking at personal matters and stories from a far-reaching and philosophical vantage point.

I might be messing with you, and that last paragraph might be a slight modification of a review I wrote of Break It Yourself by Andrew Bird about a year ago. Signed and Sealed in Blood, on the other hand, basically sounds like every other Dropkick Murphys album. It’s no work of art, but it’s pretty good.

You can expect a lot of energy and a slight overdose of testosterone. There are salty tunes of memorial, swaggering chants of power, and more than a couple meaty fists to the gut. They don’t want you to think about these songs, but feel them on a primal level. Let go of any pretense and just enjoy it– or hate it, if you’re in a bad mood, and it will work out just as well.

While I’m drawing comparisons between these guys and artists that have basically nothing to do with them, it struck me that it is rather strange to think of Dropkick Murphys in a post-Mumford and Sons world. More to the point, actually, it’s strange to think of Mumford and Sons in the context of Dropkick Murphys. If the two bands really wanted to they could probably perform each other’s music very well, but where Mumford and Sons rely heavily on building weepily to empowered crescendos, Dropkick Murphys never let up on the climax. It’s raw and emotional, if slightly stupid, and when you get into it the revelation is that everyone else might be holding a bit too much back. And I’m not just talking about music.

Without over thinking it, though, this album is a constant party and a good way to work out some aggression on your morning jog. Or sprint, in this case, because the energy levels rarely give you a chance for respite. If you’re not in particularly good shape I would caution you to wear a heart rate monitor, and maybe mix in a few Mumford and Sons tracks.

And if you can score tickets to their live show you should really consult a doctor in advance.

Release Date: January 8, 2013
Image Courtesy of Dropkick Murphys

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