It looks like the knives will be out for the Rasmus as this, their sixth album, and follow-up to the phenomenally successful Dead Letters, hits the streets. Ever since that album, and the appalling events at last year’s Carling Weekend that saw them bottled off stage, the specialist metal press have been touting that they have learnt their lesson, and gone for a heavier sound.
They must have been hoping that the band would ditch their melodramatic pop sensibilities and go all-out rock, or maybe that they would just make an easily dismissible, bad album that would show them the error of their ways.
The last thing they must have wanted was for The Rasmus to stick to their guns and make a better, harder, tighter and catchier Dead Letters but that’s exactly what they’ve delivered – and the world is simply going to have to learn to cope.
From the opening salvo of Shot, this is a much more assured affair. Dead Letters took until Time To Burn for the big riffs to come in, but they’re here from the word go, as is all the gothic melodrama and atmosphere we’ve come to expect. Yes, it’s definitely heavier than most of Dead Letters, and it’s also even more assuredly infectious with an audacious sleigh-bell chorus that will have their haters screaming in agony.
Night After Night (Out Of The Shadows) is next, a deliberate follow-up to last year’s catchiest single and, although not quite as dangerous, it’s a better song. The flimsy disco groove that underpinned In The Shadows is gone for good on this record, replaced with yet another huge riff and perfectly judged chorus. The real sequel, however, is the single No Fear – it’s almost as catchy, it’s got another ‘ooh-oh-ooh’ thing going on and it will be on the radio forever.
Dead Promises has Finnish heavy-metal-cello-band Apocalyptica ramping up the atmosphere, which builds up nicely to Immortal. This is probably the nearest Hide From The Sun goes to courting traditional metal-heads, and then only due to the splash of Iron Maiden guitar harmonies in the middle. Sail Away will soon have them running away again, but it’s their loss – as long as we can forgive the fact that Lauri threatens to go a bit Craig David during the verses.
The formula is present throughout – big riff, softer verses, big overblown sing-along choruses – but it’s their formula now, and it’s well executed. The Rasmus are like a giant musical sponge that seem to have spent years absorbing everything about overblown soft metal, synth-pop, the new romantics – heck the entirety of the 1980′s Top 40 – and it feels like they’ve finally managed to squeeze the crap they don’t want back out of the sponge, leaving them with their own defining sound. It’s a bit like Hysteria-era Def Leppard with haunted house atmospherics, fronted by Morton Harket of A-ha, but it’s more just like The Rasmus.
There are a couple of weaker spots – Lucifer’s Angel and Keep Your Heart Broken – but these are probably the only tracks that aren’t single material. The former is a little dull after the bombastic nature of the opening three songs, whilst the latter sounds a little too like Sweet Dreams. That said, there’s no real denying that this is the Rasmus’ best album to date and it’s very very good indeed. It’s pop music, and rock music, that’s utterly lacking in cynicism, egotistical posturing, sarcasm or irony, replacing all of the above with big emotion, bittersweet romance and dreams of better days. They can damn it for what it is, but not for how well it does it, as it does it superbly.
So if you were reading this review in the hope of seeing your favourite hate-figures pilloried and scorned, stop crying, unplug your radio and unsubscribe from MTV. This record will be huge, and you won’t be able to avoid it without serious strategic planning. If you’re a Rasmus fan however, then start celebrating now because Hide From The Sun is as good as you could possibly want it to be.