Phil Vokins has long been hidden in other people’s bands such as Wrathchild, Persian Risk and Tyrant where he’s never had a full say in musical direction, with ‘Isolated Hell‘ you get to hear what he’s all about. The band features former stablemate drummer Eddie Starr, Baz Pedlingham on bass and the rather magnificent vocal talents of Stu Evans.
Title track ‘Isolated Hell’ starts with a standard punchy riff and an introduction to Evans‘ gravel infused vocal, a minute in you start to realise Vokins is one of the masters of memorable hooks. ‘Hard Times‘ is a heavy rocker with a scream of a vocal and a piledriving rhythm overlaid with slick riffs. ‘Jack the Ripper‘ is laden with dark and brooding. ‘Wash My Sins Away‘ has the feel of the Scorpions with chanty harmonies. The ‘ballad’ of the album, ‘Standing In The Rain‘ is quite beautiful, Evans reins in the growl for surprisingly emotive vocals. It swoops and soars into epic proportions and the guitar work is searing and heartbreaking in equal measure, right until fade-out.
‘No Parole (from Rock n Roll)‘ is a feisty rocker, the references to rock songs in the lyrics are a fun crowd pleaser. ‘In The Groove‘ is SH era Van Halen complete with Hagaresque vocals and some skin beating flash from Starr on drums. ‘One Horse Town‘ is a fine example of what makes Vokins stand out from many guitarists… his signature quirky riffs and accents. The guitar equivalent of one liners, amongst the groove listen for all the fills along with the slide work. ‘Stone Cold Killers‘ is a huge, head-banging, fist puncher of a song just asking to be played to a 10,000 crowd. Finally the closer, ‘War‘ is the anthemic ‘epic’ that shows that Evans is not just all about the growl.
I recommend you listen to it through headphones as there is a lot going on during the fade that you can’t hear so well via speakers. If you are coming here for glam and sleaze you are not going to get it, if however you enjoy Van Halen, Schenker, Ronson and Rhoads then you will find much to appreciate.
This is a very strong first release from a band that are already lighting up the circuit and ‘Isolated Hell‘ will surely cement that reputation. This is not an album you’ll forget any time soon. The hooks are just that, they’ll be in your head for days and you will continue to find depth and interest in the layers the more you listen. And a listen is worth it, trust me.
This is a very strong first release from a band that are already lighting up the circuit and 'Isolated Hell' will surely cement that reputation. This is not an album you'll forget any time soon. The hooks are just that, they'll be in your head for days and you will continue to find depth and interest in the layers the more you listen. And a listen is worth it, trust me.