ALBUM REVIEW: Saint Agnes – ‘Bloodsuckers’

Artwork for Saint Agnes’ ‘Bloodsuckers’

In some eyes, Saint Agnes seem like a prime candidate to rip to shreds on sight. They’re among the divisive wave who’ll place their sonic edge and volume way before profiency, as well as the overarching ‘music for outsiders’ stance that’s really been sucked of all weight at this point. Seriously, there’s probably more music out there right now for those who don’t belong than than those who do. But in truth, Saint Agnes don’t do anything that isn’t exponentially worse elsewhere. In fact, it’s fairly competent in their hands; rarely amazing (though it tends to translate better live), but the aptitude is way more apparent in their case.

So where Bloodsuckers is more or less an extension of that existing arm, it’s tolerable for it. No reinvention is preferable to a botched attempt, as Saint Agnes’ multi-headed animal of sound gnashes away through garage-rock, grunge and industrial with solid synchronicity. Obviously there’s the loudness and clashing reintroduced on the title track and Animal, the staple of Saint Agnes that they sell with unblinded conviction despite some lack of flexibility. At least it’s powerful though, as Kitty A. Austen’s snarls and screeches top off the knife- and axe-swings filling in for guitars, and the metallic coating they’re all fitted in.

Bluntness is absolutely where Saint Agnes’ creative process rests the most—it smacks the hardest, and fills the most sonic space while doing it. And thus, it’s affordable to take a few liberties when it comes to songwriting nous, as is often the case when the vast majority of a body of work is spent rallying against oppressive foes and forces. It’s a theme that seldom sees much variation and Bloodsuckers isn’t much different. Hell, just from a cursory scan of the tracklist, you can get a good picture of what Outsider or Middle Finger sound like, or what they hope to achieve, or the lyrical means by which they plan to get there. It can feel a little…basic, if you want to go there, though that tends to ring as something which doesn’t both Saint Agnes too much. If it’s loud, it works. Just take Body Bag, which clocks under two minutes and doesn’t do a great deal with its Mimi Barks feature, but at least it’s in-your-face about it.

Though, to give Saint Agnes credit, there’s at least an excitement to how they do it that’s more palpable. Plus, it’d be disingenuous to dance around the instances that are branching away from the norm, like in the quivering synths of This Is Not The End or especially the cycle of anxious guitar and back-breaking percussive stomp on At War With Myself. The latter is easily Bloodsuckers’ best moment, as it’s not only completely attuned to the essence of Saint Agnes—even in their most straightforward form—but it’s just a far more interesting application of it. If the rest is coated in black paint, At War With Myself shows what they can do with palpable darkness, and it’s an avenue that’d behoove to explore more. They’re pretty good at it, after all.

Don’t get it wrong, Bloodsuckers isn’t bad elsewhere, but it’s moments like those which show what could happen if Saint Agnes were to case their net out a bit wider. They’d just feel a bit more interesting and chameleonic, and as though they aren’t reliant on a stock sound that’s already become highly associated with them above many others. But even that’s hard to complain too much about, because they do it well. Unlike so many others who’ve seemingly just had big pedestals handed to them, there’s something to Saint Agnes that makes it easier to trace, and Bloodsuckers is no exception. So yeah, it’s mainly straightforward and a lateral move, but it’s also not a bad example of either of those things; not at all.

For fans of: Fever 333, Mimi Barks, Vukovi

‘Bloodsuckers’ by Saint Agnes is released on 21st July on Spinefarm Records.

Words by Luke Nuttall

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