Roxy Blue – ‘S/T’ Album Review

Memphis Tennessee’s rock miscreants Roxy Blue are back with the follow up album to their debut release ‘Want Some’.  Three of the original members Todd Poole (Vocals), Scotty Trammell (drums) and Josh Weil (bass) have returned to the fold and they’ve drafted in guitarist Jeffrey Wade Caughron to replace original guitarist Sid “Boogie” Fletcher who swapped the rock and roll lifestyle for life as a dentist.
From their inception in 1989 Roxy Blue played their own songs and they worked hard getting it out there by playing every gig and opening for any band who would have them on the bill. Although they were creating a buzz in the music industry they were still without a label but that was about to change as Warrant front man the late Jani Lane approached the band and with his help the labels started calling with the band ultimately signing with Geffen. The band got together with producer Mike Clink who was responsible for Guns N’ Roses debut Appetite For Destruction and Want Some was created. Sadly Roxy Blue didn’t record a follow up album until now.
When I saw that Roxy Blue were releasing a new album I was so excited,  I loved ‘Want Some’ and anticipated that they’d return I just didn’t realise it would take so long, the question that needed answering is was it worth the wait and all I can say is ‘hell yes’ it was worth it. Be warned if you’re expecting ‘Want Some’ part two, you’ll be in for a shock because Roxy Blue is a harder, heavier and darker album.  There are so many different styles on this album that no matter how many times that I’ve listened to this album I’m picking up another influence. There are times when I could swear that I was listening to an outtake from ‘Appetite For Destruction’, some ‘Slave To The Grind’ era Skid Row, pretty much everything ever released by Hinder with a little bit of Limp Bizkit chucked into the mix for good measure.  I think every person who listens to this album will hear different influences, some may agree with me but I think there’ll be a lot of disagreement too. 24 hours in and I’m still listening to this amazing album and I can say with a certainty that this is a CD that I will definitely be buying next pay day. So ladies and gentlemen do yourselves a favour open your wallets/purses and get this gem as soon as you can.
Roxy Blue – Roxy Blue is joining the extremely small number of albums that I have given the elusive 10/10.
Review by Marc
Todd Poole – Vocals
Scott Trammell – Drums
Josh Weil – Bass
Jeff Caughron – Guitar

Ardours – ‘Last Place On Earth’ Album Review

ARDOURS are a band that was formed in 2015, consisting of the two main composers and producers of the project, in addition to an external lyric writer and recording musician.
Mariangela Demurtas (vocals and vocal melodies) and Kris Laurent (guitars, bass, keyboards) have known each other since their early years, and both have been active parts of the Sardinian (Italian) metal music scene. In 2006, however, Mariangela decided to move abroad and join a band from Norway (Tristania).
They have always stayed in touch and always believed in each other’s skills, and in late 2015 they decided to join forces. Hard work and dedication have been the key for their upcoming debut album Last Place on Earth.
Since Mariangela wanted something different from the solo project she is currently working on, she asked  Tristania’s drummer/lyricist Tarald Lie to write the lyrics and record the drums for the album. The amalgamation of those three elements has resulted in a fresh and a promising sound. The A&R team for Frontiers records love the sound so much that they signed the band immediately and on 9th of August Last Place On Earth will be unleashed.
Ardours are a new band to me and I haven’t listened to anything by Mariangela’s band Tristania so I can’t make a comparison between the two acts.
Mariangela  has an absolutely amazing voice and can she can sing full on rock anthems and ballads equally as well, and when she lets go she sounds absolutely sublime. Kris Laurent is clearly an extremely talented musician and  that expertise is heard all the way through this masterpiece. When you listen to ‘Last Place On Earth’ you can hear what bands influence Mariangela and Kris, the biggest influences that I picked up on were Depeche Mode and The Cure.
Last Place On Earth is an album that you can keep going back to and you will enjoy it every single time, the question I have to ask myself is would buy this album myself and the answer to that question is yes I will happily put my hand in my pocket and buy ‘Last Place On Earth’ and I’m also happy to recommend it to fans of Tristania and people who have never heard of them.  I’m giving this album a very respectable 8.5/10.
 Review by Marc

Line – Up
Mariangela Demurtas – Vocals

Kris Laurent  – Guitars, Bass and Keyboards

Tarald Lie – Drums

Glasya – ‘Heaven’s Demise’ Album Review

Glasya  – Heaven’s Demise
Glasya are a symphonic metal band that hail from Portugal and are the brainchild of guitarist and founding member Hugo Esteves who wanted to bring a dramatic dynamic to the symphonic metal scene. Hugo has recruited a selection of highly talented musicians and a singer with a voice to die for.

As the finished article the band Glasya  appear to be the new kids on the block in the symphonic metal scene however they are the exact opposite as the majority of members of this ensemble cast are already stalwarts of this genre.

Heaven’s Demise has been on constant repeat for the last couple of days and I really enjoyed the album , the lyrical content and composition are fantastic and the production is sublime. The problem with symphonic metal and it’s something that affects the genre as a whole is that once you dissect the songs a pattern emerges, the long intro which ends with either a fist thumping rock/metal  sound, a short monologue or Eduarda’s soaring vocals, whilst the three styles sound fantastic and thanks to superb composition the transition between styles is flawless it’s a sound that I’ve heard many times before, Glasya do leave some of the established bands in their wake which is a great achievement especially when some of those bands have been part of this genre for close to two decades.

Hugo stated that he wanted to bring a new dramatic dynamic to the sound sadly it’s not new and bands such as Within Temptation and Leaves Eyes have been successfully utilising this sound for quite some time. I was hoping to hear a sound that would really make me prick up my ears but sadly this wasn’t the case. That being said I’m not the type of person who will mark an album down just because there a similarities to other bands of this genre. 
Even though Glasya are a band who’s members  have been part of this genre for quite some time ‘Heaven’s Demise’ is still their debut album and it is a cracker.  I do like this album, however it’s not a CD that I would make a midnight trip to HMV to pick up.
Will I put my money where my mouth is and buy this CD? The answer is yes but it will be a while before I do so. I’m giving ‘Heaven’s Demise’ a solid 8/10 score, it would have been a 9, however  the dramatic dynamic I was hoping to hear was nothing I hadn’t heard before.
Score 8/10
Review by Hollywood Vampyre

Heaven’s Demise
Ignis Sanctus
Coronation Of A Beggar
Eternal Winter
Birth Of An Angel
The Last Dying Sun
No Exit From Yourself
A Thought Of You

Eduarda Soeiro – Vocals
Dave Van Dave – Keyboards
Hugo Esteves – Guitars
Bruno Prates – Guitars
Manuel Pinto – Bass
Bruno Ramos  – Drums.

Steven Wilson – ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase.’ Deluxe CD/Bluray Album Review (2019)

Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase.

If you’re a fan of Steven Wilson, then you probably think he operates at a higher level than most. Im not going to mention the term Rock G__’ as the terms is banded about fairly regularly. His out put as a performer (Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, No-Man, Storm Corrosion etc.) and producer (King Crimson, Yes, Tull) is second to none. Whilst writing this up, I won’t also use the word ‘Prog’ more than this once. Wilson doesn’t see himself operating in this genre, so who am I to categorise him.

August 23rd sees the release of ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase.’ Originally released in 2015, this version gets ‘the treatment’, with a CD/Bluray edition that features the album in hi resolution stereo and 5.1 audio mix, (96/24 5.1 LPCM & DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) complete with instrumental versions, extra bonus songs, and a Lasse Hoile documentary all in once nice little package.

The basis of the album is one narration. It’s the first time that Wilson has one true narrative from start to finish. Of course he has explored, concepts and various themes throughout the years. (I particularly loved The Incident). So what inspired this narrative? Wilson watched a documentary about Joyce Carol Vincent, a 38 year old Londoner who shut herself off from the World, including friends, and family at the turn of the Century. It was there she continued, virtually invisible and isolated until her death in 2003. It wasn’t until 2006 that her body was discovered. He wondered ho on Earth someone could effectively disappear, and live a life so queried and un-affecting that she disappears from view, or notices that she had gone for almost 3 years. Connected to this story, Wilson decided to turn his curiosity to what would become ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase.’

The opening few minutes of ‘3 Years Older’ sees Wilson become a fourth member of Rush, as this section could easily be a section of ‘Hemispheres’, with a bit of Pink Floyd thrown in for good measure. An impressive opener, and a long, but. Fast 10 minutes, is eclipsed for me with title track, ‘Hand Cannot Erase’. Wilson shows he can cut a great ‘pop’ song. Off Wilson aficionados might frown at a song like this, but it just adds to his charm. The ‘upbeat’ theme continues into ‘Perfect Life’ an electronic song that opens with a monologue about two friends who have lost touch with each other, before Wilson sings ‘We have got, We have got a perfect life.’ Melancholy is what he does best of all.

From here on in the tone changes. The nucleus of the album here for me is ‘Routine’ (watch the video on YouTube for added effect. If you don’t show some emotion, then you dead, or a sociopath).  It’s a song we can all tune into, Wilson taps into the fact that we all (well, most of us) are stuck in daily routines. Only can write a lyric with such sadness, and sung to such an effect from Ninet Tayeb  that states ‘Keep cleaning, keep ironing, cooking the meals on the stainless steel hob’. The piano is ghostly and ethereal, and the build up to what is Tayeb’s emotional ‘wail’, mirroring a person breaking under the emotional pressure, is one sound that will stay with me forever.

‘Home Invasion’ is more sinister and disturbing than what has come before. It gives particular showcase to Marco Minnemann’s drumming, and one of the few songs with a solo in it. I also like the Hammond B3 and mellotron weaving through ‘Regret #9’ , and Guthrie Govan’s guitar playing in this is fantastic.  ’Transience’ onward sees a further dip in melancholic tone. It has a feel of PT’s ‘Heart Attack…..’, but it’s chorus is upbeat. ‘Ancestral’ is a long (131/2 minutes) and disturbing, dark and haunting. Its orchestral content combined with Govan’s sprawling, tense riffing, and some gorgeous vocal harmonies (similar to Pink Floyd and Tilt) gives the feeling that it’s the albums zenith, before revealing the final two songs. Its prog (dammit!) at its finest – dark and darker, heavy and light in equal measure, with a metal riff firing along the latter section.

If you think you might be hearing something you’ve hears earlier, that’s because bits of ‘First regret’ can be heard in both ‘Regret #9’ and ‘Happy Returns’. ‘Happy Returns’ is a by now TM sound of Wilson, soul searching, and a tad more upbeat, but not quite, before closing with the outro of Ascendant Here On’.

This was the first Steven Wilson album that had me hooked from beginning to end, and a broken man afterwards. The players used are all on top form, the production, superb, and the story and theme is well told. Wilson mixes sounds old, and new, not playing to the old guard and reminds me of one band who constantly did the same as this, Rush.

It’s an album that if you listen to on headphones, will probably leave you in tears. Without even having to dig into the lyrics, you can feel the emotion, sadness and despair. Its almost like a ‘best of/compilation’ album, where all of Wilsons previous best bits came together for one fantastic album.

HCE also contains instrumental versions in 96/24 stereo quality only, for this of you who want to marvel in the musical content, or fancy a karaoke moment. Just make sure you laminate the lyrics for the tears that will ensue! There are another 6 versions of some of ‘HCE’, radio edits, and a Grand Union mix of ‘Perfect Life’; with my favourite being the Ninet Tayeb solo vocal version of ‘Routine’ which is simply marvellous.

Included is a 30 minute studio documentary ‘fly on the wall’ style from Lasse Hoile. Fans will have already seen this on YouTube, but is included here, showing the band at work in Sept 2014. It even includes a rare shot of Wilson wearing trainers.

The 5.1 sound is immersive, nuances of sound come at you from all angles, and the album sounds just gorgeous. All songs are accompanied by some striking photography for you to dwell on whilst listening.

For me, ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase.’ showed Wilson had found perfection. All his output previously had been great, but this was stellar. In 2019, perfection has got even better.

Released bt KSCOPE 23.8.19

*DISC 1*
1               First Regret [02:01]
2               3 Years Older [10:18]
3               Hand Cannot Erase [04:13]
4               Perfect Life [04:43]
5               Routine [08:58]
6               Home Invasion [06:24]
7               Regret #9 [05:01]
8               Transience [02:45]
9               Ancestral [13:30]
10            Happy Returns [06:00]
11            Ascendant Here On… [01:54]

*DISC 2*
1               First Regret (5.1 mix) [02:01]
2               3 Years Older (5.1 mix) [10:18]
3               Hand Cannot Erase (5.1 mix) [04:13]
4               Perfect Life (5.1 mix) [04:43]
5               Routine (5.1 mix) [08:58]
6               Home Invasion (5.1 mix) [06:24]
7               Regret #9 (5.1 mix) [05:01]
8               Transience (5.1 mix) [02:45]
9               Ancestral (5.1 mix) [13:30]
10            Happy Returns (5.1 mix) [06:00]
11            Ascendant Here On… (5.1 mix) [01:54]
12            First Regret (Instrumental) [02:01]
13            3 Years Older (Instrumental) [10:18]
14            Hand Cannot Erase (Instrumental) [04:13]
15            Perfect Life (Instrumental) [04:43]
16            Routine (Instrumental) [08:58]
17            Home Invasion (Instrumental) [06:24]
18            Regret #9 (Instrumental) [05:01]
19            Transience (Instrumental) [02:45]
20            Ancestral (Instrumental) [13:30]
21            Happy Returns (Instrumental) [06:00]
22            Ascendant Here On… (Instrumental) [01:54]

_Bonus Tracks_
23            Studio Documentary filmed and edited by Lasse Hoile [29:29]
24            Photo Gallery – 36 photos from the studio sessions
25            First Regret (alternate mix) [02:05]
26            Hand Cannot Erase (radio edit) [03:25]
27            Perfect Life (Grand Union mix) [07:43]
28            Routine (Ninet solo vocal version) [08:58]
29            Regret #9 (alternate take) [04:17]
30            Happy Returns (radio edit) [03:53]
31            Piano Themes from `Hand.Cannot.Erase`[02:20]

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. The provided PR suggested great things and some highly regarded peers spoke very well of V0id. Who was I to question the comments? I listened, and came to the same conclusion that V0id were on a path to greatness.
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! Scarlet Rebels name is a vast improvement. 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’. There are songs here for every day and every emotion. 
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 an enchanting, exhilarating ride from beginning to end, and considering its their first album, and having time on their side, I wonder what future gems await, as they enter their peak.
Its 53 minutes of some of the best melodic hard rock you’ll hear all year, and beyond…Scarlet Rebels are the best band you haven’t heard yet!
Score 10/10
Review by Chesy
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 Doyle, Wayne ‘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)