Rather self-consciously goffick cover art conceals an album of splendid contemporary rock sturm und drang from this Californian four-piece. Scarlet's Remains instinctively know how to blow up a rock 'n' roll tornado. They've got a towering, glowering guitar sound (played on this album by Brian Elizondo, although Bari-Bari of Mephisto Walz has now taken over) and rhythms that pummel along like a dust-up on a rugby pitch. The centre of the storm is vocalist eveghost, who may have some odd ideas about grammar (what is it with people who render real-life names as if they were web addresses?), but she effortlessly blasts out her vocals with all the force and straight-line accuracy of a dragster hitting the quarter mile strip. The overall effect is of focussed power, leavened by some neat and individual songwriting ideas, and all cunningly arranged in the sonic landscape by some neat production. Sounds like it could be good? I'm here to tell you - it is.
'That Was A Lie' features a lyric as pointed as a skewer, and allows the band demonstrate some fine instances of that kick-down-and-accelerate thing as they move from verse to chorus. When eveghost snarls into the line 'How about a little truth?', and the guitars catch fire and the whole thing hits overdrive, I can visualise the mosh going crazy right there. 'Far From Paradise' powers along on a tumbling, tribal drum-rampage, the bass rattling and gnarling down in the bowels of the song. 'Martyr Complex' howls like Xmal Deutschland caught in a thunderstorm, while 'Metall Heiligenschien' (which sort-of translates as 'Holy Armour') continues the tocsin with all the right barricade-storming noises.
'Fear Not' sees the band getting all punky, while 'Circular Thoughts' sends a mass of guitar infantry into battle, eveghost riding ahead of the hordes like a rock 'n' roll Boudicea. Then comes something I thought I'd never hear from any band involved in the present-day goth scene, where sometimes it seems that all anybody wants to write are inconsequential novelty songs about zombies and the like. 'Baghdad' is a genuine, full-tilt, get-the-bastards protest song. It's anger and politics stirred into a rage-red soup, a scathing overview of the sorry spectacle of escalating destruction wrought in the name of bringing peace, terror raining down in the name of security. It's an uncomfortable thing to hear, and not simply because the band - not exactly restrained at any point on this album - virtually hit the sonic wall, so great is their onslaught. It's the way eveghost turns her bitter gaze on all of us - 'When will our hands ever be clean?' - and finally on herself, changing the reference in the last line of the song to 'my hands', that has me shifting uncomfortably in my seat. We can blame the politicians all we like, but we put those politicians there. This mess is our mess. We've all got Baghdad's blood beneath our fingernails.
'1492' racks up the rage yet more, over tribal drum thunder akin to a battlefield set to music. 'Behind Another Door' is, perhaps, the sound of Scarlet's Remains getting a little more accessible - eveghost enunciates the words here with careful precision, and the to-and-fro swing of the vocal line could have been designed to appeal to those whose idea of what a full-on rock anthem should sound like begins with Blink 182 and ends with Green Day. But the guitar sound is low-down and dirty, and that's fine by me. 'Hope Against Hope' puts the bass through a blender, and I'm impressed to hear eveghost rhyme 'emancipation' with 'annihilation' with sparky verve. In fact, this song contains so many '-tion' words (malediction, devastation, absolution, revelation, to name a mere four) you'd almost believe that she had deliberately thrown as many goth club names as possible into the lyric for a bet.
'The Bitter Pill' tumbles along, speedy and rhythmic, the words falling fast and closely-packed - the overall feel recalls 'For My Country' by UK Decay, and there's a comparison I dare say Scarlet's Remains didn't expect to get. Finally, 'Your Drug' points an accusing lyrical finger while the bass gets all high-tension and the guitar churns like a lawnmower posessed by Satan.
Yep, this album is genuinely impressive, and if it lacks any real light and shade it certainly scores high on passion and vigour. It's not by any means a relaxing experience, but that's obviously the intention. Ferocious and forceful, this is the sound of a band blasting off.