Originally formed in Llanelli under the name V0id the trio of Wayne Doyle (vocals/guitar), his brother Gary Doyle (drums) and Wayne 'Pricey' Esmonde (bass) released three albums but then the trio were joined by Chris Jones (lead guitar) and nephew of Pete, Josh Townsend also on guitar so this led to the name change into Scarlet Rebels (drawn from the Llanelli Scarlets rugby team).
Having already released their debut record Show Your Colours, this second offering has been picked up by Earache Records, now THE destination for hard rock bands like Rival Sons and The Temperance Movement.
It's a more mature, tougher edged record that is extremely politically motivated. The cover depicts are not so benevolent dictator at the lectern with his shadow spilling out into a crucifixion pose and devil horns. The entire record is a damning indictment of the Conservative government we've had in London during the pandemic. The lies, the sleaze and the general unfeeling nature towards the working class and how that affects the collective mental health are dealt with here.
Really only a band from Wales or Scotland could be so hostile due their countries history with the party. This anger is drawn through rebellious classic rock tones, unlike the often political hardcore bands, there's not a sense of sharpness or outright violence here more a chance to sing along and fight back. Though the message is often the same. Wayne Doyle's lyrics take cues from such blue collar heroes as Springsteen, Petty while the music is a mix of hard rockers such as G'N'R and the more alternative side of the Foo Fighters.
This mix of political lyricism and anthemic catchy hard rock is well done, you can hear the anger here and some may be put off wanting instead generic lyrics. The band don't really care if you agree with them though. Their album launch, which was going to take place on a boat, was cancelled as the Conservative supporting boat hire company saw the album cover. So this has changed onto several acoustic shows and sponsored bike ride across Wales with all money raised going to the Trussell Trust.
Debasing this album for it's politics would be missing the point, some of the most well known songs have a point to the lyrics, so the title track here along with Storm are all following in the shadow of Born In The U.S.A which is both anthemic and politically engaging. The band say being from Llanelli and staying in Llanelli rather than moving to the big city, has given them their own outlook on life, and you can hear that Welsh fire etched into the hard rock anthems and the poetry in the ballads like These Days.
A giant leap forward from their debut as Scarlet Rebels, they have built on the foundation of that album and reinforced it with a human touch (to coin a phrase from The Boss). This is more than hard rock, it's a statement of our current climate, needless to say things have gotten worse since the album was recorded so maybe it's the touchpaper we need. Big ballads, riff filled rock and a finger on the button, Scarlet Rebels urge you to See Through Blue and discover the alternative on this album! 8/10
The trio of Jacob Mazlum (guitar/vocals), Joe Allen (drums) and George Ionita (bass), came together as Kurokuma in 2013, they have released three EP's and two Splits since 2013, but Born Of Obsidian is their debut full length.
Emerald Sun are something of a genre leader in the Greek power metal scene. They have been bringing the full pelt gallops and fantasy lyricism from Thessaloniki since 1999. Their last release was 2018's Under The Curse Of Silence but since then there has been a couple of changes in the line up, as Nick Kaklanis gets behind the drum set, as they welcome back Teo Savage on guitar. Savage played on the Emerald Sun's first three albums so this is a welcome return as he a founding member of the band, giving back a bit of legitimacy.