Sometimes the hardest part about being a music reviewer is not giving an objective summary of an album without having personal preferences taint the review. Especially for someone like me who has eclectic tastes that favor experimentation and musical honesty despite attempting to appease a fanbase or fit into a style. This is why I must carefully choose my words while writing about Rise As Equals, the debut full length by Iowa’s Saul.
It only took a matter of moments into opener “Trial By Fire” to recognize that this wouldn’t be my typical cup of metallic tea as the album opens with some steady radio-friendly metal chugga-chuggas and gives way to some Metallica influenced clean vocals. Upon first listen, I normally would have chalked up the lyrics as a generic tale of overcoming adversity, but it is in truth, a deeply personal song for brothers Blake and Zach Bedsaul (vocals and guitar, respectively) in regards to their situation with writing the album while their late mother was dealing with brain and lung cancer. As Blake puts it, “We felt a deep inner struggle to focus on creating the best record we could while being home to care for her. This song is about that mind struggle.”
“Trial By Fire” isn’t the only personal song on the record. “Brother” is a dedication to Blake and Zach’s late brother. With two songs tied to tragedy and a track entitled “King of Misery”, you’d think that the album would be all depressive and melancholy, but it keeps up a steady upbeat rhythm throughout the album. It’s pretty clear that the album is, by design, a reach towards gaining a mass public fanbase. The influences I hear are all based on popular radio-friendly hard rock and alternative metal. Vocal nods to Maynard James Keenan from Tool and Chester Bennington from Linkin Park and a musical style liken to Sevendust and Disturbed, both of which have writing credits on the album with the former’s drummer Morgan Rose performing on “Inside” and the latter’s vocalist David Draiman co-writing “King of Misery”. Plus the key ingredient of keeping all songs between three to four and a half minutes long, making them primed for potential radio play.
With all that being said, these guys have the talent, the backing, and the connection to gain that fanbase and I wish them luck. It is clear they are being honest in what they are doing and what they want as a band, but the experimentation I crave simply isn’t there. Which is a-ok; because of my interests, I’m clearly not their target demographic. I know plenty of people who would love this band and their style. And for a debut release, I feel they have a very good shot at becoming very well known.
Written by Ted Berger
*Written by Dominic Abate