For seven years now Norway’s Bloodlights have lead the charge for anthemic hard rock infused with a healthy punk bite. Joined now by Chris Banjo on bass guitar, Howie B (guitar), Woody Lee (drums), and sneering leader Captain Poon (vocals and guitars) are ready to offer the world their third palette of fist-clenching bruisers, the intense Stand or Die.

If engaging rough-and-tumble tracks such as “Arms Around It” and “Roll With Me” sound like the result of blood, sweat, and tears, you really don’t know the half of it. Bloodlights had an entirely different third album written and recorded last year; alas, the band didn’t think the sounds within that album were rough enough. Poon and the boys threw caution to the wind and scrapped that entry entirely to start over, knowing full they could match the grit and glory of their previous discs (2007’s Bloodlights and 2010’s Simple Pleasures).

Now, after buckling down in Oslo’s Crystal Canyon studios, here we are. Anyone who feared traditional rock music might gasp its final breath in 2013 have nothing to worry about with Stand or Die. From its near-literal explosive start to the tooth-grinding finish, this record produced by Captain Poon with assistance by legendary Oslo knob twiddler Anders Møller, is sure to rattle your windows and make you sweat with its hot riffage while simultaneously pitchforking major melody into your brain socket. The kings have indeed returned; all hail Bloodlights.

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