XT: Saved by the Blood

 Last year’s solo release by Bjorn Stigsson was a ripple in the waters, but a new album by XT is a full return of Swedish metal royalty. Guitarist Bjorn Stigsson is best known for his pioneering christian metal band Leviticus in the 80’s. Following his classic solo release Together With Friends and Leviticus’ end, Stigsson regrouped with Motherlode mainman Sonny Larsson and started a new band XT during the 90’s. Always melodic, XT evolved over 3 albums from a classically influenced, very commercial debut to a satisfyingly heavier approach on Taxfree and Extended Empire. For this XT reunion Stigsson and Larsson are joined by 2 Jerusalem alums and Mick Nordstrom of Modest Attraction, who also played drums on Taxfree– making it a true super group. So the question is- can these aging rockers still pull off a metal album with teeth, especially since Bjorn’s solo cd of last year is much mellower than his first? The answer is a resounding yes. Saved by the Blood is best described as melodic hard rock, slower with a heavy, almost menacing guitar tone and keys that display Deep Purple, Whitesnake influences, but Sonny’s distinctive voice still shines through. With age, any subtlety regarding lyrics has been discarded for a straightforward and bold evangelistic message, yet remains tasteful. The last 3 songs “The Last Supper,” “The Crucifixion,” and “The Resurrection” form a powerful medley of the message of Christ’s death for our salvation, much like Bloodgood’s much loved “Crucify”and “He’s the Messiah” from Detonation. The album stays in hard rock mode throughout, with the exception of the ballad “All of Your Love,” and there’s some tasty guitar solos on “What’s Going On.” Do yourself a favor and pick up this import- the 4th XT cd (also in vinyl)- only a 22 year wait! 4 stars out of 5 (Talking Music)

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