Sunday 16 June 2019

Scarlet Rebels - 'Show Your Colours' Album Review

Scarlet Rebels – Show Your Colours

Every now and then a band comes along that makes you go a little bit moist. Am I right fellas? Well this happened in 2015 with a band called V0id. Their third album ‘Keep Fighting’ was a little belter, and I bigged them up to anyone who would listen. They were good. Very good in fact. Even better live.

Thankfully a name change came about last year. An internet search for Void (without the ‘0’’) meant you’d find them about 27 pages in! When the name Scarlet Rebels was announced, I gave a sigh of relief. It suits them. After an album hiatus of 4 years, the next , or should I say ‘first’ chapter of Scarlet Rebels is about to be written, and it’s going to become a best seller.

The band still has a nucleus of brothers Wayne (Vocals, Guitar) and Gary Doyle Drums), along with bassist Wayne Esmonde, but have added some steel with lead guitarist Chris Jones, and Josh Townsend (guitar, keys); and after witnessing them at HRH, with a couple of teasers from ‘SYC’, a huge leap forward that I didn’t think was possible has been achieved. That was before I even heard the album. To that end, I have eagerly been awaiting for ‘Show Your Colours’ to drop.

So, if you’re a fan already then the lads have produced their finest piece of work to date. If you’re thinking of getting into a new band…..then lets see if I can convince you to part with your hard earned. Opener ‘No One Else To Blame’ isn’t exactly a sprint, more of a well-timed finish. A slow burn for me initially but after a few listens, the guitar work, and chorus just power it along like a juggernaut. ‘You Take My Breath Away’  is all about the chorus. They are giving ‘every song a killer’ Vega a definite run for their money. ‘Head’s In The Ground’ sees Scarlet Rebels aligned with my opinion on a certain orange coloured fella across the water (and Brexit!), and is a bit Shinedown in its preaching, and that’s no bad thing.

‘Part Of Me’ has a country-rock-slide-guitar and acoustic opening. It’s a bit of a change of pace, but the chorus is just HUGE. ‘Heal’ is a song they aired when I caught them at HRH AOR and was one of the stand out tracks. It’s low key first half, before a riff kicks in, then its down to the emotive and passioned chorus. Wayne Doyle certainly has a knack in getting you involved with his lyrics. A song of two halves, its my fave of the album so far. ‘Let Your Love Go’ reminds me a bit of a song by Tito and Tarantula. Its got high energy and a wallop to boot. ‘Nothing To Say’ is another song about sticking it to the man. Doyle clearly has a lot to say in his lyrics.  ‘Save me’ is standard fare as it guys for these guys, but its up against some high quality songs.

‘Blinded By The Pain’ is the longest song on the album. Whilst it isn’t epic in length, it is epic by any other means. It has to be a shoe in for their live set. ‘Shattered Dreams’ sees me running out of superlatives at this point. A harder edged song that evokes a bit of Alter Bridge. ‘Can I Open My Eyes’ is a cracking fast paced song that deserves to be a hit in any other time when rock ruled the airwaves.

‘Returning Light’ is the third barnstorming song on 'Show Your Colours'. I love the melodic hard rock numbers, but the real gems for me are when you can hear Wayne Doyle open up his heart and expose himself to some real emotionally delivered songs and this one is the absolute pinnacle of the album. I could imagine this with a choir or an orchestra and it would just bring people to tears. Its stunning, absolutely stunning.  ‘Losing End’ is a song that could easily be from the Foo Fighters, and goes toe to toe with the Grohl. Last and by no means least is a Scarlet Rebels 'balls out rock song' in the vein of bands like ‘DC, Krokus and Accept where it is all about the riff and the chorus.

Its the kind of album that you could be blindfolded with a pin in hand, and the song you pick could easily be a single or a favourite. Scarlet Rebels have a contender here, because the songs range from ‘great’, to ‘excellent’ and have 3 ‘absolute stunners’. There are songs here for every day and every emotion. Four or five listens in and I’m trying to be a bit picky, but I cant really find anything!

Its almost a perfect storm, all five guys hitting peak performance, a pounding rhythm section from Gary Doyle and Esmonde, a three guitar attack from W Doyle, Jones and Townshend, and some great vocals from Wayne Doyle.

Whilst they are not newcomers, Scarlet Rebels have put lots of miles, hard work and graft into these past few years into what should be an album of breakthrough proportions. If you like songs that are 
a) as catchy as a baseball glove dipped in UHU, or 
b) have more hooks than a fishing tackle shop then look no further for your musical fix.

Its 53 minutes of some of the best melodic hard rock you’ll hear all year, and beyond…

331/3 out of 33 1/3  (or 10/10)

Track listing

1.    No One Else To Blame

2.    You Take My Breath Away

3.    Head’s In The Ground

4.    Part Of Me

5.    Heal

6.    Let Your Love Go

7.    Nothing To Say

8.    Save Me

9.    Blinded By The Pain

10.Shattered Dreams

11.Can I Open My Eyes

12.Returning Light

13.Losing End (Bonus: Digital download/ streaming only)

14.Radio Song (Bonus: Digital download/ streaming only

Lead vocals - Wayne Doyle
Backing vocals - Wayne DoyleWayne ‘Pricey’ Esmonde and Josh Townshend
Guitars - Wayne Doyle, Chris Jones & Josh Townshend
Lead guitar - Chris Jones
Bass - Wayne ‘Pricey’ Esmonde
Drums and percussion - Gary Doyle
Keyboards and piano - Josh Townshend

Album Artwork - Josh Townshend
All images by Graham Harries at G Photography
Scarlet Rebels logo by Aled ‘Not Jones’ Williams

Scarlet Rebels are:
Wayne Doyle (vocals/guitar)
Chris Jones (lead guitar)
Josh Townshend (guitar)
Wayne ‘Pricey’ Esmonde (bass)
Gary Doyle (drums)

Released on Fri 09 August 2019 - ROAR! Rock Of Angels Records
Available as Download / CD / Limited Vinyl (250)
Recorded in Sonic One Studios, Llangennech, Llanelli, South Wales

Produced and engineered by Tim Hamill (Girlschool, Lemmy, George Michael)

All songs written by W. Doyle, C. Jones, G. Doyle, W. Esmonde & J. Townshend

All lyrics by W. Doyle

Pre-order here:  

Thursday 6 June 2019

Nitrate - 'Open Wide' Album review

Nitrate – Open Wide

If your idea of a  ‘who’s who’ of a band made up of members with extensive CVs (not because they cant hold a job, the opposite, because they are so much in demand) then look no further than Nitrate. If you think that the music on offer gives a nice warm comforting feel, that’s because main guy Nick Hogg , bass and keys co-wrote the songs with Robb Wylde (Teenage Casket Company / Midnite City / Tigertailz / Vega). Robb is also providing rhythm guitar on Open Wide. Also present are Mike Newdeck  - drums  & mixing (Midnite City / Edens Curse / Blood Red Saints / Newman), Marcus Thurston - guitar (Vega), vocals from Philip Lindstrand (Find Me / east Temple Avenue / Strong), and mastering from Harry Hess (Harem Scarem). Fuck, just to make sure, Nick Hogg got the other three-fifths of Vega (Martin Bros and Wilson) to chip in with one song (Bad Girls). Nick Workman was obviously having his hair done!

With all the Vega-ing, and Midnite City-ing, this is a Ronseal album straight out of the box. You know what you’re gonna get, and its gonna be good. ‘You Want It You Got It’ sprints out of the starting blocks like a stabbed rat. Its a good riff, and an instantly sing-able chorus. Whats not to like? Well, nothing thankfully.

‘Night Time City’ is another in the ‘big sound’ vein, and just like Vega and Midnight City, I’m already seeing a pattern. ‘’Only A Heartache Away’ is a ballad of sorts, but in a Ted Poley vein, a harder edged and melodic ballad. ‘Heart Go Wild’ steps back on the gas to anthem-ville! ‘I Don’t Want To Live’ is all about the chorus, and it’s a big one. ‘Never Surrender’ is as 80s as Coverdale’s legwarmers, and would be a shoe-in for MTV back in the day. ‘Heartbreak Suicide’ could only come out of the pen od someone like Wylde in 2019, thanks to his random song name generator, and a knack for a riff / bridge / chorus that few can copy, or emulate and is one of the stand out songs on the album. ‘In The Night’ reminds me instantly of JonBon or Poison in their element – all cowboy boots, leather chaps and it would have had a hand 1000s of births if it was 1988. It’s a little belter. ‘Bad Girls’ riff is laid on the foundation of ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’ and you can tell is a Martin penned tune just by the number of ‘whooaa’s’ in it! ‘Shot In The Dark’  is a blend of Robin beck, and Vinnie Vincent’s Invasion, if that’s ever possible. I must cut back on my meds. Its soon onto the last number, ‘Waiting On You’ which again has a nailed down chorus.

All I can tell you is that Nitrate has some powerful tunes with Thurston’s riffery and playing some of the best that’s this side of Ritchie Blackmore's wig.

I do have one tiny irritation and that’s Linstrand’s phrasing of the word ‘you’. But then again, his English is definitely better than my Swedish, so I can go and bugger right off.

It’s hard not to make comparisons to Teenage Vega City, or Midnight Vega, when the songwriters concerned want all the songs to be an anthem, or a big number. And that’s a good stall to set out. With Nick Hogg pulling the bass strings of a puppet-master, he has pulled off a shrewd move and come out the other end with an album that will be at the top end of the best lists come the year end. I’ll have to go out and get my mitts on the debut.

30 out of 33 1/3  (9 out of 10)

You Want It You Got It
Night Time City
Only A Heartache Away
Heart Go Wild
I Don’t Want To Live
Never Surrender
Heartbreak Suicide
In The night
Bad Girls
Shot In The Dark
Waiting On You

Nick Hogg – Bass & Keyboards
Robb Wylde – Rhythm Guitar & Keyboards
Philip Lindstrand – Vocals
Mike Newdeck – Drums
Marcus Thurston – Guitars

Mixed by Mike Newdeck
Mastered by Harry Hess

AOR Heaven
Released 21.6.19

Saturday 1 June 2019

Hollowstar, Florence Black, Matt Mitchell & The Coldhearts, Star & Garter, Manchester, 31.5.19 Live Review

Hollowstar, Florence Black, Matt Mitchell & The Coldhearts, The Star & Garter, Manchester, 31.5.19

As what seemed like the whole of the World descending on Manchester for the first of a run of nights for The Spice Girls at the Etihad, just around the corner a small band of real music aficionados chose to be at The Star & Garter for a night of what would be one to remember.

The venue was small, and bijou at best, and possibly (some) blood, definitely sweat, and some tears would be shed here this evening. More on the tears later...

The guys in attendance know a class act when they see one, as the upstairs room was almost full for Matt Mitchell & The Coldhearts. Matt (ex-Pride/Furyon/Colour of Noise) is the most experienced man on the bill, but sometimes you just have to start anew, dust yourself off and get on with it. His album dropped today and MM&TC came out fighting. The album is good, but the select songs chosen stand up a lot better played live as they are performed with a bit of added welly. Mitchell looks and sounds the part, and has surrounded himself with quality musicians. It was a case of hit ‘em hard with what little time you’ve got...’On and On’ is a good pacey opener, but ‘Black Diamonds’ gets the crowd bouncing (Literally, thanks to the floor in the venue!). Matt wails ‘I hope you find what you’re looking for’ and he is spot on. We did. ‘Kings & Queens’ is a summer song that should be on repeat on the radio, and ‘Unavailable’ showcases the heavier side of Mitchell. It was the fantastic ‘Home’, which did it for me, a number that showcases his and The Coldhearts talents and is his shining moment. It’s all over too soon with ‘Wave Goodbye’. Apt, and a great start. Form is temporary, class is permanent.

Where MM&TC was a composed and very good performance, Florence Black essentially ripped up the rulebook and are one of those bands that don’t care who precedes or follows. A three piece from South Wales they opened up with the Budgie classic ‘Breadfan’ and practically beat the audience into submission and levelled the Star & Garter. When the person next to you (Roger) leans into you and says ‘that was worth the admission alone’ you know you are onto something special. Me, I just had two words written down...’bloody awesome’. Its one of the best covers of any band I’ve ever heard, its that good. Like a Tasmanian Devil that’s been provoked with a pointy stick, Florence Black were taking no prisoners – ‘Fiesta’ is a pounding track that leaves you breathless, and in frontman and guitarist Tristan Thomas gives his lot, especially sweat. In fact, in Thomas, Perry Davies and Jordan Evans it’s like being in a 3-2-1 fight, the punches just keep coming and there’s nothing you can do about it. ‘Same Again’ is a song built on the foundations of Budgie and grunge and is a belting force of nature. ‘Gunshot’ originally features Benji Webbe of Skindred, and if anything for me is the weaker song of the set. A mix of Skindred and Disturbed, it doesn’t fit FB as much as the rest, and their own songs prove they don’t need endorsements or outside assistance. Finally its onto ‘Smoke’ and Florence Black finish as they started, with a wallop, and its a pleasure and delight to see these guys rip the place up. I think that had they reversed the set, and left ‘Breadfan’ until last, I think I’d have wet myself! 

Where FB had raw power, force and energy, Hollowstar are riding the coattails on the back of a very good debut album with some belting songs. Coming on to a strange, but nice intro in Massive Attacks ‘Teardrop’, before launching into album opener ‘Take It All’ and a twin guitar attack of Haines and Collett, Joe Bonson is the focal point and rightly so, with charm and substance and a voice to match. With Hollowstar is more about groove and feel, and ‘Down By The Water’ ‘Lay Down’ and ‘Guilty’ are as groove-laden as they come. ‘Invincible’ highlights the intensity of Hollowstar and is almost ‘Cult-like’ (The band). ‘Think Of Me’ is my fave track from the album and is even more Alter Bridge/Bad Company live and has a very infectious chorus. This was dedicated to Chris, who gave Jon a job booking gigs for Hollowstar who passed away before the Album was done. ‘Money’ was...er...bang on the money. ‘New Age Lullaby’ and ‘Feel The Burn’ show the bands roots, and their sharp progression over the last couple of years. 

There are a couple of heartfelt tributes to a pair of Hollowstar soldiers who have fallen along the way and deserve their mention. Chris, who gave Jon a employment to essentially book his own gigs for Hollowstar and is given ‘Think Of Me’ and the lads friend Carl who lost his fight to depression last year, in ‘Good Man Gone’, a rousing tribute. Both gents were given a rightful round of applause and at both points I had something in my eye. (As did others I expect.

Free’s ‘Wishing Well’ is up next and a staple of the Hollowstar set. Its more Moore (Gary) than Free’s version, and breaks their set up well for the final furlong. ‘Overrated’ is definitely not what Hollowstar are judging from tonight’s performance. The set is over all too quickly with ‘All I Gotta Say’ and was released a good year ago and whetted the appetite for the debut, and is a great song to finish the set. Its easy for bands to play a whole set of an album, but Hollowstar have a core of songs from this and their EP that will be a staple of sets hopefully for years to come. I sincerely hope all 3 bands tonight are here for the long run.

It was one of those nights that I’ll remember for quite some time. Catch them still while you can for one of the best and intimate gigs of 2019. And it wasn’t at The Etihad.

The result, Rock 1, The Spice Girls 0 

P.S. either the PA at the venue is shite, or the sound engineer was wearing mittens, or was a deaf as a post! All 3 vocalists sounded as if they were singing underwater at times. But rock is mainly about attitude, and thankfully the 3 bands had this in abundance. That aside, it was still a cracking gig, but could have been so much more, had the sound be decent.


Matt Mitchell & The Coldhearts

On & On

Black Diamonds

Kings & Queens



Wave Goodbye

Florence Black


The One



The Ride

Same Again




Take It All

Down By The Water

Lay Down



Think Of Me


Let You Down

New Age Lullaby

Feel The Burn

Wishing Well



Good Man Gone

All I Gotta Say