This is it. This is the point where Skarlett Riot fans get to say 'we told you so'. I've followed this band for the past five years, ever since seeing them at a tiny gig at West Street Live in Sheffield. They've come a long way since then, with tours, festivals and increasingly high profile gigs bolstered by their consistently strong recorded output.
After the 'Villain' EP and 'Tear Me Down' album came the EPs 'We Are The Brave' and the breathtaking 'Sentience', which showed the band to be moving towards a heavier, faster, more precise sound.
'Regenerate', their first album for Swedish label Despotz Records, takes everything that has always made Skarlett Riot special, turns it up even further and pushes them directly into the spotlight as a razor-sharp hard rock act which has the talent and attitude to take on the world stage.
Opening with lead single 'Break', it's clear to see how far the band has come since the pop rock of fan-favourite 'Villain'. With guitars thick with overdrive and battering the listener with an addictive speedy riff, it comes across like early Bullet For My Valentine coupled with the more melodic end of late eighties thrash. Skarlett's vocal starts mean and angry, before the instantly memorable chorus comes into play. An immediate classic.
Through 'Closer' and 'Stand Alone' that vein of chunky, attitude-laden metal continues, as does the band's well-honed ability to give even their heaviest tunes an incredible hook. 'What Lies Beneath' echoes some of their earlier work (in particular 'Faded Memory' in the main riff), but also manages to show that the band isn't staying in one place thanks to one of their most epic choruses to date.
'Calling' and 'Affliction' feel more reflective, with the latter boasting an elegant verse which Amy Lee would have killed for. That song soars, Skarlett's sophisticated vocals adding layer upon layer of drama. The guitars of Danny Oglesby are a shining light throughout the album, his style continuing to evolve and sharpen. He sounds immense. The rhythm team of Martin Shepherd on bass and Luke Oglesby are a revelation – to the point that I'm amazed not to hear Luke actually punching through drums. That man is incredible.
'Outcast' is another strong entry, reminiscent of the 'Sentience' EP material. 'Paralyzed' is one of their heaviest moments yet, just crying out for a live crowd. 'The Storm' brings more of a melodic metal edge with it, evoking Iron Maiden, Bullet For My Valentine and even Avenged Sevenfold in the instrumentation, all held together by a strong vocal line.
The album ends with one of the best songs the band has ever put out – 'Warrior'. Full of danger and energy, its perfect structure and irresistible hook rounds off an album which has absolutely no filler whatsoever. Basically it doesn't get much better than this.
Despotz Records have done the world a good deed in bringing Skarlett Riot to a music scene that really needs someone with this level of talent.