Signed and Sealed in Blood
(Born & Bred Records)
The album's opening lyrics are more a statement of intent: "The boys are back and they're looking for trouble."
After taking a slightly left turn with their 2011 concept album Going Out in Style, the Celtic rockers return to their raucous sound of old with Signed and Sealed in Blood. However, the affair is not so much a step back because, with it, the seven-piece comfortably meld the different sounds they explored throughout the years to create one enjoyable record, their ninth to date.
The aforementioned opener The Boys Are Back is made for the stadiums, with its huge chorus and the signature bagpipes resembling a call to arms.
Prisoner's Song balances aggression with toe-tapping hooks, while the single Rose Tattoo is a beefed-up folk song delivered with real bite. Jimmy Collins is a sombre reflection on a fallen friend, while the witty The Season's Upon Us finds the singer Al Barr doing his best Grinch impression. "My sisters are wack jobs. I wish I had none," he spits. "Their husbands are losers and so are their sons." But like nearly all of the Dropkick Murphys songs, it's all tongue-in-cheek.