Freerock Saints - ‘Electric Passion’ (Grooveyard Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Gerald Stansbury   
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 04:40

Freerock Saints artworkapproved image lrg 2013Hard rock with genuine flashes of southern rock is not the first thing I think of when I think about Greek music. I am much more likely to think about Rotting Christ and what my favorite album by them is. Freerock Saints put me on notice though when I heard ‘Southern Sky’ which reminded me of a mix of the Mother Station (anyone remember their classic album?) and ‘Heartbreak Station’ era Cinderella with modern touches and some funk added to the mix. This is another album that proves 2017 was stuffed with great, quality music across many genres.   

 

‘Made for Freedom’ kicks off the album with some vocal adlibbing by Areti Valavanopoulou over an assertive blues beat. The hooks are plenty in this rocker that would have been at home on Sass Jordan’s ‘Racine’ album back in the ‘90s. This song immediately pulled me into the album and let me know this was not going to be a passive listen. The guitar work by Stavros Papadopoulos is immediately showcased in this one. Where bands like Blackberry Smoke have gone a little more towards the country influence in their music, Freerock Saints have channeled some of the rocking blues bands of the past which provides an extra edge to the music. ‘Reason to Live’ reminds me of the much-missed St. Jude with its clean verse providing the perfect set up to a huge chorus. There is a slight bluesy rasp to the vocals here that just bleeds authenticity. In another decade, this song would have been all over the radio, and it really deserves to be played on every classic rock station around today. The solos again shine here.

 

The rocking continues with ‘Rockin in the Fast Lane’ which gives way to a great pre-chorus that gives the chorus more oomph. This song could easily be seen as a cliché rocker about the younger years but is so well done that it overcomes the title of the song. The guitar work is once again outstanding by Stavros and shows that this virtuoso knows how to write songs. ‘Passion City’ focuses on a slightly heavier groove. The backing vocals are tastefully done through the pre-chorus and give way to Areti taking over the vocals for the chorus. The solo section lends itself to an extended jam live. The band’s cover of ‘Sing Child’ is one that just doesn’t connect with me like the other material. The funkiness is well delivered, but this recording just loses me on the hook as Areti sounds so much better on the other songs here that this seems like a missed opportunity or would have been better served as a b-side for me. The drum and bass work is excellent here by Dinos Maltezos and Chris Lagios. 

 

 

‘Beautiful Dissonance’ quickly rights the ship with a gorgeous piano intro giving way to a rocker with a killer riff and outstanding lead work by Stavros while Areti provides excellent vocals throughout and sings with more and more power as it builds. The high standard continues with ‘Southern Sky’ which I addressed at the beginning. This one makes perfect sense as a lead single as it showcases the diversity of the band while providing a killer hook. This song gets the adrenalin going and makes it easy to imagine a crowd in a large theater all singing along to the chorus. 

 

‘The Reason Why’ turns up the tempo at the beginning of side two and provides a restrained verse and actually reminds me of an 80’s or early 90’s Great White rocker. I love the lead guitar work here and how the solo gains momentum before slowing back down and bringing on the final verse. ‘Blind’ is a slow moody number, and I really like how Areti uses inflections in her vocals here. The chorus is another powerful hook, and this is a song I would want to constantly hear in a live setting with the crowd helping sing the chorus. At nearly six minutes, this epic flows and will provoke spontaneous air guitar. This song has remained one of my favorites after many listens.  

 

‘Funky Mama’ turns back on the funk as one might expect and makes me think of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s harder rocking moments with a dash of the Black Crowes as well. This is another song where an extended jam live would make sense so that Stavros, Dinos, and Chris can really spend more time with this groove. This is one of those songs that clocks in at almost four and a half minutes but feels like a three-minute radio edit. The scratchy guitar of ‘Why Lie’ leads into another powerful rocker with a refreshing cool riff. The half sung, half spoken verses are awesome here, and one band that keeps popping up in my head is the recently resurrected Tora Tora.

 

‘Soultrain Ride’ makes me think of riding on a tour bus in the ‘70s from city to city while listening to the best songs on the radio as this is just timeless music done very well. The production lends the whole album a 70’s feeling as well. This is another favorite of mine and just begs for a video that shows the band on the road and on stage while the crowds get larger and larger as the video progresses. ‘First Water’ closes the album in fine fashion as a tribute to the late Chris Cornell. This is perfectly placed as a slow acoustic number that features incredible vocals and tasteful guitar work.

 

Freerock Saints have made me take notice with this sophomore album, which is packed with quality song after quality song. They are not inventing a new genre but have hit the same sweet spot that Saint Jude did a few years ago for me. I will be checking out their first album in the future but cannot recommend this enough if you like any of the bands I have mentioned.

 

‘Electric Passion’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.

 

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