Saul – Rise As Equals (Album Review)

Slow and steady wins the race, right? It has certainly proven a winning formula for Iowa’s Saul, a band of brothers who are set to deliver their debut full-length, Rise As Equals, on Friday, October 23, 2020 via Spinefarm Records.

When you come from the state that gives its name to one of the most iconic Metal records of the past two decades, you must defy expectations if you want to get a foot in the game. Clawing their way up from the Midwest soil and into the national spotlight, Saul has done just that. Despite this being their debut LP, the quartet has already amassed over six-million streams for themselves, along with the respect of fellow musicians, SiriusXM Octane, and publications such as Revolver, Guitar World, Loudwire, and more.

Tours with the likes of Bush, Fuel, 10 Years, HELLYEAH, and Nonpoint have allowed  Saul—brothers Blake Bedsaul (Vocals) and Zach Bedsaul (Guitar), William McIlravy (Bass), and Myles Clayborne (Drums)—to hone their skills. This shows on their full-length debut, the 14-track Rise As Equals.

The album does not waste a second as the band blasts off into the catchy “Trial By Fire.” They follow this with the alluring call-to-arms, “Looking to Fight.” On the topic of the track, Blake notes, When times were down and we weren’t doing music, it was about my inner struggle being bitter at myself and my life. It’s really personal. Zach and I agreed this would be our last hurrah if ‘Brother’ didn’t hit. Thankfully, it did.

So it’s appropriate that the aforementioned “Brother” is next, a single that has already been a smash-hit for the quartet. The driving rocker, dedicated to the Bedsaul’s late brother Caleb, displays a heady dose of emotion along with a frustration targeted at fate. Next, they slow it down for “King of Misery,” which was co-written with Disturbed’s David Draiman over Zoom. The track’s languid, chugging riffs reflect its lyrical content, which was inspired by the loss of the Bedsaul’s mother, and what their father endured while trying to care for her and continue working at the same time. In this, much like throughout the duration of Rise As Equals, the brothers detail their real-life experiences with a candor that makes them easily relatable.

But they offer plenty besides heartfelt lyrical content. Mesmerizing guitars embrace the heavy “Get It Right,” Sevendust’s Morgan Rose provides guest drums on “Inside,” and they offer up some infectious angst on “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” Then there’s the powerful anthem “Rise As Equals,” which is dedicated to the band’s fans, whom they refer to as “Equals.” And yet, without this specific knowledge, one can see the track as a timeless reminder that we are sharing the human experience together, as population of equals. Whether the family you envision is the Saul fandom or the world entire, it’s a show-stopping track on an excellent debut.

Another superb moment comes in the form of the beautiful ballad “Levee,” which arrives before the quartet join forces with powerhouse songwriter Erik Ron (Godsmack, Panic! At The Disco) for the detuned “Here And Now.” Hammering percussion shines on “The Toll,” while synth adds melody on “Things Change,” a pride-filled personal evolution. Then, as they approach the LP’s conclusion, they play around with an old adage on “Sticks and Stones” before going massive for the autobiographical grandeur of “Welcome to the Machine.”

Start to finish, Saul has managed to strike an impressive balance between infectious, radio-ready Rock-n-Roll and that ferocious edge that plants them firmly into the Alt Metal family. Undeniably catchy yet born of tragedy, Rise As Equals displays the Bedsaul brother’s perseverance through their candid lyrical content, and their obvious desire to share their experiences in hopes of reaching across the barricade to embrace others going through similar struggles. A more than solid debut from a band whose name you need to know, Cryptic Rock gives Saul’s debut LP 4.5 of 5 stars.

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