SAUL is proof that anyone with talent and determination can make it in the music industry. The band is comprised of brothers, lead singer Blake Bedsaul and his brother Zach Bedsaul on lead guitar (get it? SAUL?!). The brothers are joined by William McIlravy on bass and Myles Clayborne on drums. They have been grinding for years, independently producing music and writing about personal, real life issues.
It’s been almost two years since the band independently recorded and released the single “Brother.” The song absolutely caught fire, and before too long was getting regular airplay on Sirius/XM Octane. Within weeks, the band’s independently produced EP Aeons received almost a million streams and they got signed. The band quickly started to put together Rise As Equals, which contains remasters of some of the band’s independent tracks and collaborations with some massive names in the industry. Due for release on October 23, 2020 via Spinefarm Records, I’ve been excited about this album for awhile and have been privileged to hear it early and share my thoughts with the Spinning Thoughts family.
The record already has three singles. As mentioned previously, “Brother” is the song that put the band on the map. The storytelling and anguish in the lyrics give the track a raw appeal and a genuine vibe. It’s always powerful when songs are written emotionally and I can tell that SAUL invests a piece of themselves in the songs they create. The opening track is a rerelease that became the follow up to “Brother,” entitled “Trial By Fire.” This track is among my favorites on the record and is a great choice to open the effort. The opening riff is intense as it gets. The guitar bends over a feverish drum and the bass really grabbed my attention. The lead into the chorus is unique, starting with a heavy group chant that fades into a light piano mini-riff before exploding into a wall of sound at half time.
“King of Misery” is the current single on the record boasting huge riffs and is loaded with emotion. The song was written during a time of sorrow for the band, as the Bedsaul brothers’ mom was battling cancer. Their dad was working full-time and supporting her, while the band was recording Rise As Equals. One day, their father told them he was “the king of everything,” which inspired the concept and title. The song was cowritten during quarantine over Zoom with David Draiman, front man of Disturbed. It’s an incredibly emotional track and you can feel the angst in the transition from the chorus. This song is taking off right now and it’s no surprise- it’s heavy, raw and powerful.
Sandwiched between these tracks is “Lookin to Fight.” It starts off with a heavy riff that has some amazing low bass tones but when the verse hits, it’s highlighted with clean vocals for the first time on the album. The song has an almost haunting piano riff that lays over top in the background while the clean vocals ring out, but the transitions stay heavy with callbacks to the intro riff. “Get it Right” is another track that highlights clean(er) vocals, but has a much darker, heavier feel. The chorus is massive and has a super heavy riff under the clean vocals. The riff is intense and attention-grabbing with immense star power. The title track, “Rise as Equals” is dedicated to the band’s fans, referred to as ‘Equals.’ The song opens with an outstanding bass-driven riff and has a slower feel throughout, which is a great transition in the album.
“Inside” takes us back to heavy vocals and a heavy riff. The chorus has unique duality with the vocals and reminds me of Of Mice & Men. “Don’t Close Your Eyes” is a solid song with perfect placement on the album. It’s heavy, but not to the crushing extent of most of the other tracks on the record. It has a crossover appeal as well and is very catchy. It’s a good transition to “Levee” which is ballad-driven mostly by piano and clean vocals. It honestly caught me off guard, and even without the heavy tones, it still had all of the raw emotion and power that any other track on the record does. The end of this song is absolutely chilling as the music fades and the lyrics call out, “I am lonely, because you’ve given up on me.”
“Here and Now” has one of the best riffs on the album, right out the gate. The transition to the verse is akin to Breaking Benjamin and adds that mainstream kick that still sits on the heavy side of the aisle and has pop chords that drive it along. I can see this song being another successful single and the chorus is one that gets caught in my head every time I listen.
“The Toll” is my favorite track on the album. If you don’t know that I am a sucker for a good bass line by this point, you haven’t been reading, and the bass work here is as good as it gets. The chorus is huge and has a hollow, emotional feel to it that is difficult to put into words, with raw screams in the transitions that gave me chills the first time I heard it. “Things Change” has a stellar intro with faded effects that explode into the actual intro of the track. The riff is massive and engaging. The verse has a nice crossover appeal, there is a catchy cadence to the lyrics and the chorus feels designed for a sing-along.
“Sticks and Stones” is in-your-face and heavy. The transitions all explode and there is an unrelenting low bass tone that grinds throughout. Plus, the into features a chant of “Sticks and Stones won’t break our bones…” and I am always a sucker for a play on nursery rhymes in unrelenting metal. The last track on the album, the beginning of “Welcome to the Machine” has a classic Pink Floyd vibe going on and has a strong build throughout, adding extra layers. The riff in the chorus is amazing and the high octave back-up vocals stand out in a big way. The song tapers off in a big open wall of vocals and then just abruptly ends.
SAUL is here, in a big way. If you like hard rock and metal, you likely haven’t been able to avoid “Brother” and should be familiar with that tune. Not to take away from the lead single, but it doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the depth on this album. SAUL is capable of big things and they have a great story for their rise to prominence. Make sure you check out Rise As Equals when it drops on Friday October 23 from Spinefarm Records!