The Rasmus – Black Roses (2008) – Review

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Not sure if this is really good, shifting away from their former style into the Pop Rock arena, that is. And some of my co-reviewers call this Hard Rock, err yeah. To their credit, still some (but only some) of their metal sting that was more prevalent before has been sustained. But by and large the Finnish band The Rasmus has landed a pretty good, but very gloomy next step in their career.

I was quite pleased to listen to some crunchier sound emerging in their 7th studio album Black Roses. The record started extremely fast. At #1 in the Finnish Charts right away, it represented pretty well across Europe.

Black Roses seems to talk about negative and troubled relationships with the other sex. Generally in very gloomy terms. Sometimes the theme (not the music, of course) feels like a Finnish version of Bachata (the music/dance), that endlessly laments sadness, love, and the guilt of women in relationships. So, if you want to enjoy the depth of the lyrics, be my guest. But you better be in the mood. For sure, this is not a feel-good, happy-happy kind of record. 

This very style – however – is indeed right along with the credo of Finnish society, which is endlessly prone to doom and gloom. No wonder that so many Gothic, Doom, Death, and – for sure – Black Metal bands originate from the cold North. ‘Cause this is where the eternal dark brings you brooding thoughts that leave you bobbing in the wake of your own midnight horrors.

But I do like The Rasmus and their tune, being the nerd that I am. Lauri Ylönen – as always – interprets them tracks like there is no tomorrow. Neatly produced and varied, crunchy at times, and then again much softer. Of course, the whole production is very much prone to the synthesizer bug. More so than before, and this seems to be their hallmark in a way. And it will get worse in later years – not necessarily to their benefit. 

There are however a few bad sins on Black Roses. The Disco style parts – for instance – included in the album reminisce of the ’80s and just want to make you run away screaming. And some of it sounds like an absurd mix of Disco mixed with Depeche Mode. Not a good idea in my book. 

And they REALLY pushed the pop buttons a few times too many, which together with their synthesizer work may have carried them away some. Or was it – as evil tongues say – the involvement of the producer Desmond Child? He may have mainstreamed some of that stuff to death to – in his ears – render their music palatable to the public’s scrutiny. And I get it – okay – he is very successful with this, just look at his track record. But sometimes good crunchy music needs to be left alone to mature – like good wine.

The tunes themselves come sometimes across as a bit simplistic and predictable. And you will be missing stellar guitar solos that other bands display. But then this might not be in their genes, so we have to take that one on the chin. Right?

Well, much to my confusion, and as in other productions, The Rasmus all of a sudden crank up the heat and get (acceptably) aggressive. This (kind of) keeps your interest alive a little longer.

The most remarkable tracks are Ten Black Roses, Ghost of Love and Run to You. The Fight has – well – some fight in the tune and I like it. It is the only really surprising potion in this cauldron of special tastes and directions. Starting out really flat and boring, it all of a sudden changes its tune into something much rockier than the rest. 

I am torn!

Black Roses sports many great moments. Yet, this comes alongside quite some evil, sprinkled with a few sins. So, The Rasmus hit kind of even ground if you compare to their other records. Better than Hide from the Sun for sure. And the record beats their 2012 namesake that somehow went South. But it is for sure not as refreshing as Dead Letters.

Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Playground Music | Web: Official Site
Release date: 24 September 2008

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