“Tear Me Down”, the first full-length release by UK-band Skarlett Riot, is an album that manages to catch some bright and searing rock’n’roll lightning-in-a-bottle. Growling and grinding with terrific garage-rock grit, fired up by a hard-rocking spirit, and flashing influences from bands like Alterbridge, Halestorm, Heaven’s Basement, Crashdiet, LA Guns, and Velvet Revolver, Skarlett Riot shows some impressive confidence and real chops both musically and lyrically.
Singer Skarlett’s edgy, strong voice gives the tunes a lot of their barbed wire sharpness, and behind her the band has a furious, intense sound throbbing with powerhouse drums, heavy-duty guitar-riffs, and rumbling bass-muscle.
The band blasts out of the gate with the rambling and rocking, guitar-racing “Faded Memory” showcasing the band’s fire and speed, and fleshed out with some emotional, rough and raw lyrics and vocals. As on the rest of the album there’s an urgent, intense, and passionately personal quality to the lyrics, giving the band a real voice and vibe of its own.
That voice comes through clearly on the darker, heavy-riffing “What We’ve Become” too, with the line “we are broken” baring the desperation and pain at the core of the track. And the fast and fiery “Adrenaline” is also injected with some real and ragged emotion.
After that the band launches into “Rock N Roll Queen” – my favorite tune on this album – a gloriously rumbling and rough track that rides in on a gorgeous riffy intro, and then rocks out hard enough to leave you pleasantly breathless.
“Lost” is an oddball interlude of a track, but it’s so promising in its haunting weirdness that I was sort of disappointed when it faded out after only two minutes.
At its very best this album is both powerfully explosive and deeply emotional at the same time. “Villain” is an excellent example – it’s a track that throbs with gloriously heavy drumming, the guitar and bass full of aggression, and Skarlett’s voice alternately screaming and crooning.
With its expressive guitar-work and vulnerable vocals “Broken Wings” proves that the band has some ballad chops as well; while “Party Hard” is another hard-rocking, emotionally loaded rush of fire, all heavy riffs and throbbing bass, and featuring a bit of 1980s spectacle in the guitar-playing. Then final track “Riot” – pumped full of anger and urgency – closes out the album with a flourish.
“Tear Me Down” is not a perfect or flawless release by any means, but Skarlett Riot skillfully harnesses its fierce fighting spirit, and explosive energy, creating a raw and powerful rocker of an album. Doubtlessly, time and experience will hone and sharpen this band’s skills further, but there’s a lot to be said for this kind of jagged edge as well.
- Skarlett: vocals, guitars
- Danny: guitars, backing vocals
- Tom: bass, backing vocals
- Luke: drums
- Faded Memory
- What We’ve Become
- Rock N Roll Queen
- Tear Me Down
- Broken Wings
- Party Hard
(This review was originally published at Hard Rock Nights.)