Context is a big deal when it comes to this album.
While “Cruel Games” stands up as a solid rock album on its own merits, this is an album by a fictitious band from a television series. As a result, seeing the “Paradise City” series will give you the context required to fully grasp the emotion in some of these lyrics.
That being said, I have watched Paradise City, so I get it. But you don’t have to see the show to appreciate the music here…
Remington Leith of Palaye Royal handles vocal duties for “The Relentless”, other than him, I struggled to find any solid info on the actual players, with most sites listing the fictitious band members.
Opening with “Seven Kinds of Sin”, we are greeted with a very accessible rock track. It’s all melody, bouncy bass guitar and a laid back vocal. A decent opener.
The title track is up next, and while this is a great track – given a boost by a guest appearance from Lzzy Hale – this is one of, if not THE track where the aforementioned context of the series comes in to play. Listen to it here, and it’s good. Listen to it with the scenes from the recording process within Paradise City, and it’s emotional, uncomfortable and fantastic!
“Nothing Lasts Forever” was an absolute earworm for me while watching the series. Little snippets here and there had me clamouring for a full version, so this is another where context may make it better. Remington Leith is a superior vocalist who is so good at conveying emotion. His vocals are pained and incredibly strong. He also has a way of pronouncing lyrics that is rather unique – almost like there’s evidence of an accent, which I don’t think is the case. Either way, Nothing Lasts Forever is the standout track for me.
“Lost in Control” is given a huge boost by bold singalong choruses, while the cover of “Cats in the Cradle” is a pretty standard cover version that doesn’t fully come alive until it’s final moments. The vocals again though, are an absolute winner.
“Rookie” is a big time rock anthem. Another highlight of the record, and best played at volume! It’s anthemic with its cry of “I used to be a lot like you, now I’m only me”.
“Curtain Call” is a somber affair, and demonstrates that while Andy Biersack from Black Veil Brides is the physical embodiment of character, Johnny Faust, Remington Leith really understands the character and is the one actually responsible for bringing him fully to life.
Last but not least is another cover, this time from Sumerian Records’ Smashing Pumpkins. This is another standout moment, again largely due to Leiths emotional vocal. It’s a pretty faithful rendition of the original song, but rarely does a cover better that which came first. This just might..
The biggest take away from this album is that Remington Leith is a stellar vocalist, and he should be a huge star.
Check out the series Paradise City, and more importantly, check out Palaye Royal.