|Musical Style: Power Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Arkeyn Steel||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2008||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 56:24|
Scarlet Rayne came together in the late eighties as a result of a joining between brothers Dan (guitars and vocals) and Matt Johnston (drums) and bassist Kyle David. Hailing from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, Scarlet Rayne recorded its first demo, a three song effort that went on to sell 500 copies, in 1988 before “Crash” replaced Matt on drums later the same year. After turning down an offer from a label, Scarlet Rayne independently released its full length debut, Theater Humanitarian, in 1990, an eight song offering which came out on both CD (1000 copies) and cassette (1500 copies). The group proceeded to spend the next two years gigging throughout the Midwest, playing shows in Illinois, Minnesota and its native Wisconsin while sharing the stage with Barren Cross, Whitecross, Deliverance, Believer, Sacred Warrior and Vengeance Rising. Scarlet Rayne parted ways with Crush in 1992 – who was supplanted by Mike Feighan (Whitecross) – before changing its name to SolScape and recording its second album. A disagreement over a change in musical direction with its management, however, soon led to SolScape breaking up, leaving the new album unreleased.
Theater Humanitarian has remained an out of print and pricey collectible for nearly two decades (it is not uncommon for eBay auctions of an original CD copy to end in the $50 range- or higher.). That all changed in the spring of 2008 when Arkeyn Steel Records re-mastered and re-issued Theater Humanitarian with four songs from the unreleased SolScape album as bonus tracks.
Scarlet Rayne can best be described as classic power metal – you will find an old school vibe throughout Theater Humanitarian – inviting a comparison to contemporaries Sacred Warrior, Recon, Queensryche, Fates Warning, Barren Cross and Iron Maiden. More recent acts such as Jacobs Dream (David Taylor era), The Sacrificed and Faith Factor must be mentioned as well. What stands out most about Scarlet Rayne is the technical – almost progressive – approach it takes to its art. To understand my point just check out the time changes associated with the seven minute “Through Eyes Of The Past”, “Scarlet Rayne” (the groups signature track), Recon-ish “Alpha & Omega) and intricate “Covered Fear”. “Tales Of The Lost” might bring a darker and mood filled vibe (it kind of reminds me of some of the material off Sacred Warrior’s Wicked Generation) but proves no less able. “Sands Of Time”, in contrast, represents a seven minute acoustic based piece that approaches ballad territory. Only “C.F.C.”, due to its clichéd predictability, and “Midnight Excursion”, a blatant throwaway, fall short of the mark.
The high end and operatic vocal sensibilities of Danyl J., of course helps lend comparison to many of the previously referenced bands in question. If Rey Parra (Sacred Warrior), Vett Roberts (Recon) and David Taylor (Jacobs Dream) happed to be your cup of tea, then you will embrace his high pitched flavorings (I find his style suits the “operatic power metal” that Scarlet Rayne brings to the table perfectly). He performs best on “Tales Of The Lost” and “Sands Of Times”, although he does occasionally overdue it in the falsetto department.
Guitar wise, Danyl also delivers the goods with a performance rivaling that of the aptly named Bruce Swift (Sacred Warrior), Ray Parris (Barren Cross) and John Berry (Jacobs Dream). While his soloing more often than not comes across blazing (“Scarlet Rayne” and “Alpha & Omega”), he can also move in a more blues based direction (“C.F.C.”). At this point it must be noted the confidence Scarlet Rayne exhibits in its instrumental sound, tastefully showcasing its musicianship on the extended instrumental portions gracing “Tales Of The Lost”, “Scarlet Rayne” and others.
Being that Theater Humanitarian was an independent release recording using early 90’s technology, a certain element of thinness permeates its production.
The acappella vocals at the start of “Scarlet Rayne” soon give way to a metal-laced rhythm guitar. Prior to reaching its first verse, however, the song evenly decelerates to a quietly played guitar only to regain the lost momentum as the rhythm guitar returns at the start of the second. Repeating the same pattern for its third and fourth verse, “Scarlet Rayne” moves on to a decisive chorus in which the band makes a statement of faith:
Scarlet Rayne can you feel the pain
The pain He had as He died for you
Surrender your heart you can
Make a new start just to let Him in
A lengthy instrumental section allows Danyl J. to showcase his blistering abilities on lead guitar. In the end, “Scarlet Rayne” focuses on the life of Christ:
The child was born through Virgin Mary
Of Godly intent His name was to be Jesus
The Messiah that God sent
He lived a sinless perfect life
Three days after Christ’s tragic death
He rose just like He said He would
He showed himself to His disciples
In a heavenly glow as He stood
“Alpha & Omega” begins to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar before launching into a steadfast guitar riff. The song settles down to a bass guitar solo for its first verse before the rhythm guitar rebounds for the second, leading the way in determined fashion to a chorus standing out with the smooth sounding feel to its delivery. Impetus abruptly picks up for an instrumental section carried by a blend of fiery leads and hard hitting drums. “Alpha & Omega” touches upon many of the same lyrical themes as “Scarlet Rayne”:
I am the alpha and the omega
Time is something I can bend
I’m the alpha and the omega
I am the start and the end
“Tales Of The Lost” brings a mood filled environs that would not sound out of place on Sacred Warrior’s Wicked Generation. A catchy guitar riff characterizes this one, upholding its charging verse portions and another extensive instrumental section in which the band puts its adept musicianship on full display. With its notable melody and emotional vocal flavorings of Danyl J. I would rate “Tales Of The Lost” with the albums better material. Salvation is the subject matter here:
Not by works but by grace you are saved
So you can try to pay a price
That’s been already paid
Stakes were high but you knew the cost
You played the game, I guess you lost
Confess with your mouth
Jesus Christ is the Lord
And He will take on all the sin
Man just could not afford
“Covered Fear” opens calmly – almost in the form of a ballad – as a quietly played guitar stands in support of its first verse. Abruptly picking up in pace as the rhythm guitar kicks in, the song storms through its second verse to a near speed metal riff only to taper off for the third. The breakneck initiative returns at the start of a sweeping chorus that slows in melodic based fashion at the end. A fluid stretch of lead guitar is added to a song that in the end asks questions:
Is the constant fighting
Too much for you to take?
Do you need to run away
From home to get a break?
Do you need the alcohol
To forget all that you hear?
How much longer can you live
A life in covered fear?
“C.F.C.” (standing for Cranking For Christ) receives the clichéd song title of the month award. This one also starts quietly but soon transitions to a near doom-like riff. Impetus gradually builds until the song takes off in full force, roaring through its verse portions and a swiftly moving chorus in which the band delivers an almost apologetic message to its critics:
No matter how you roll the dice
Christ remains the only Light
I’ll rock for Him throughout my life
C.F.C. – Cranking For Christ
One of the albums more exciting instrumental sections showcases a run of lead guitar that begins in an almost bluesy manner only to swiftly pick up in pace at its close. Once more, the message to “C.F.C.” revolves around addressing those who questions the bands motives (both musically and lyrically):
That the music in itself, no it
Has now power at all
Words can be inspired by God
And used to help you fall
We have a fight that’s on our hand
And together we can win
But instead you shake your
Fist and say we’re adding to the sin
My overall thought is that the guys hit the nail on the head; that said, I could have done without the “Cranking For Christ” clichés.
The seven minute “Sands Of Time” reminds me of Jacobs Dream's “Sarah Williams” (off Theater Of War) in terms of both its musical and lyrical direction. Similar to “Sarah Williams”, “Sands Of Time” maintains an acoustic heading the majority its distance- all the while with a hint of keyboards occasionally decorating the backdrop. The acoustic direction continues until the five minute mark at which point the rhythm guitar steps forward to reinforce the emotional scene. Lyrically, “Sands Of Time” focuses on an individual who suffers the grief of losing a friend to a drunk driver (on “Sarah Williams” the main character is the drunk driver):
Alone in the dark
Tears rolling down my face
I can’t keep up with the race
It’s the endless fear of change
My mind is scattered
My bones tied in knots
I feel the gripping ache of pain
My heart has drowned as my spirit rots
All in all, great job guys. Also, very fine performance from Danyl J. who shines with his poignant vocal delivery.
“Through Eyes Of The Past”, also coming in at seven minutes, is quite the technical piece that borders on the progressive. The song moves at an upbeat tempo the majority of the way while maneuvering through time changes too numerous to go into adequate detail (again, the music here is on the complex side of things). If I were to invite a comparison it might be to lengthier Barren Cross compositions such as “Living Dead” (off Atomic Arena) or “2000 Years” (from State Of Control). “Through Eyes Of The Past” touches upon the impersonal nature of our computer based society:
Our world is now fully computerized
There’s no more need for thought
Free thinking is no longer allowed
We know only what we are taught
Micro-chip logic is in control
I guess we are only paying our toll
I try so hard to think of when we were free
Before we become slaves to our technology
As previously stated, “Midnight Excursion” is a throwaway that moves its brief (:42) distance to some punk-ish vocals and thrash flavoring riffing.
The four bonus tracks find Scarlet Rayne/SolScape drifting away from power metal territory and moving in a straightforward hard rock direction. Think early nineties Bride but with more of a high end vocalist. In terms of production, things come across with added polish and clarity in comparison to Theater Humanitarian.
“Razor Back”, a gritty and mid-tempo hard rocker with a bluesy vibe, deals with the issue of backbiting:
Destructive slander when heads are turned
You’re the last one to know
When you’ve been burned
A more upbeat direction is taken on “Lost Meaning”, a melodic based piece with a sweeping chorus and extensive instrumental section featuring some blazing guitar leads.
I would rate the driving “Lions Den” as the heavier of the four. Sustained by a pulsating bass line and razor edged rhythm guitar, this one would sound right at home performed by Snakes… era Bride.
“How Now” maintains the guitar driven impetus in showcasing another weighty low end and melody of the abundant variety. Danyl J., of course, stands out with more of his tasteful lead work.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing (Theater Humanitarian): “Scarlet Rayne” (6:00), “Alpha & Omega” (4:40), “Tales Of The Lost” (4:32), “Covered Fear” (5:39), “C.F.C.” (4:39), “Sands Of Time” (6:50), “Through Eyes Of The Past” (6:51), “Midnight Excursion” (:42)
Track Listing (bonus material): “Razorback” (4:12), “Lost Meaning” (5:04), “Lions Den” (3:18), “How Now” (3:58)
Danyl J. – Lead Vocals, Guitars & Bass
Kyle David – Bass & Guitars
Crush – Drums
Mike Feighan & Mike Tripp – Drums (bonus material)