Whatever your opinion on the bagpiped and “totally not actually from Ireland, so they don’t count as celtic punk, GOD” Dropkick Murphys, there’s little doubt that the band have had a fantastic run of it. The energy and sound that the band crafted for themselves is something rather different and, despite attitudes like the one above, they’re a barrel of fun.

There was a 0.1% chance that ‘Signed And Sealed In Blood’ would be a stylistic departure for the band, and it’ll be the usual love it or hate it situation here for the band. Everything a fan could want is here; gang vocals, flutes, pipes, ukuleles and good old fashioned power chords hurtle the album forwards at considerable pace, and the band still have the knack for conjuring up the soundtrack for a dance-off in brewery.

What actually makes ‘Signed And Sealed In Blood’ a fine listen – if you like this sort of thing – is that it doesn’t sound forced at all. There’s been a few moments on recent albums where the band have felt a little short of inspiration, but there’s plenty of material here that sits up there with Dropkick Murphys’ best. The opening brace of ‘The Boys Are Back’ and ‘Prisoner’s Song’ are excellent, and though the band are best when they’re at their fastest, it’s a massively entertaining effort overall.

The production on the album is excellent, fitting the band perfectly, and there’s certainly so sign of the band letting up following its release. Not an album that’s set to convert the unbelievers, but the Dropkicks certainly still have the “fun factor” that’ll draw new fans in to see them live – and that’s where these songs will really come to life. Fantastic fun, and not one to be missed if you’ve enjoyed the band in the past.

TOM AYLOTT