WHERE THE MONSTERS DWELL
Released on April 20, 2018 (Perris Records)
I readily admit that I am not that much of a Deep Purple or Rainbow fan. Sure, I know tons of these two bands’ songs and think Deep Purple‘s “Perfect Strangers” is one absolutely mesmerizing track but I only own one album between the two iconic groups. When Perris Records principal Tom Mathers pushed for me to listen to Saffire‘s latest studio album Where The Monsters Dwell while telling me that the Swedish hard rockers were getting “rave reviews”, I decided to give them a chance and I am so glad I did. Simply put, Saffire will get another “rave review” — at least for the first seven songs on the record.
For whomever has read my prior reviews on Sleaze Roxx, you’ll know that I am not much of a fan of keyboards. In fact, I hate them the majority of the time. Only a few bands have been able to excel with a full-time keyboardist in their line-up my mind. Deep Purple and Bon Jovi come to mind but both have been rather inconsistent over the last few decades with Deep Purple not having come up with a truly memorable song since 1984’s “Perfect Strangers” and Bon Jovi lost in an abyss of releasing one weak album after another since 1992’s Keep The Faith. Accordingly, it is with some skepticism that I started listening to Saffire‘s latest album Where The Monsters Dwell knowing that they were being compared to Deep Purple and Rainbow. What I didn’t realize was that Saffire were taking the best of Deep Purple and Rainbow while incorporating some early Masterplan and Dio magic to come up with an absolutely splendid album. Hell, even the keyboard playing from Dino Zuzic is fantastic and lays the foundation for some truly amazing songs.
I’ll start by simply gushing over lead vocalist Tobias Jansson‘s singing. Mr. Jansson — where have you been all these years? I know that Saffire have released a bunch of albums before Where The Monsters Dwell but I simply didn’t know that Jansson had such a great voice with such a cool story telling vibe to his singing. Jansson simply excels at singing within his comfort zone on the record. He reminds me of Jorn as he knows his range and sticks to it with great results. Is Jansson going to be mistaken for the next Rob Halford? No, but all the songs on Where The Monsters Dwell seem to fit his vocal register to perfection and simply make him shine throughout the album. One thing that I only realized as I was listening to Where The Monsters Dwell for the umpteenth time was that Victor Olsson is a killer guitarist. Check out his guitar soloing on the first two tracks “Wolf Among The Sheep” and “Hard To Keep, Hard To Find”, and frankly just about any of his guitar solos on any of the songs on the record. Olsson plays a mean guitar blending in melody, cool riffs and sometimes shred like perfection.
The first seven songs on Where The Monsters Dwell are really good. If the album was based solely on those seven songs, I think that this would be a contender for album of the year. Unfortunately, the last four songs are simply not at the same level as the first seven. The ballad “Fortress” in particular drags on so much that just about every time I listen to the album, I usually think of shutting it off at that point knowing that the last few songs on the record simply do not match the “magnificent seven” at the beginning of the record. It’s almost like clockwork. I start listening to Where The Monsters Dwell totally into the first seven songs and then all I think about is skipping the last tracks. As much as I am being hard on Saffire for their last four songs, it’s only “Fortress” that really loses me each time. The three other last tracks are still pretty good but simply not at the level of the first “magnificent seven.”
Overall, Saffire‘s Where The Monsters Dwell is an album that you’ll definitely want to check out and that will likely surprise you by just how good it is. You can pick up the album directly from Perris Records.
01. Wolf Among The Sheep
02. Hard To Keep, Hard To Find
03. Valley Of The Damned
04. Broken Crown
05. Where The Monsters Dwell
06. How Cold Is Your Blood
07. Road To Paradise
08. Perfectly Worthless
09. Dark Horizon
11. The Rainmaker
Magnus Carlsson – bass
Tobias Jansson – vocals
Victor Olsson – guitars, backing vocals
Anton Roos – drums
Dino Zuzic – keyboards
Bengan Andersson – additional congas (4)
Mixed and mastered by Thomas “Plec” Johansson
Music produced by Victor Olsson
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, September 2018
Saffire‘s “Where The Monsters Dwell” live music video:
Live music video for the song “Where The Monsters Dwell” – taken from our third album “Where The Monsters Dwell”. Filmed at Sticky Fingers, May 18th 2018.GET…