13 Dec 2021 - Sebastian
Rock | End Hits Records | Release date: 17 Dec 2021
With over twenty years in the hardcore scene and many releases and influential albums under his belt, Nathan Gray now releases his third solo record and claims this is his most political album in the past years, maybe ever. With the “Iron Roses” he now has a whole band behind him and they set out to scream their message from the roofs.
As said before, Nathan has released numerous records with various bands in different genres. His most famous band Boysetsfire plays hardcore with strong political messages. The Casting Out was his band when BSF went on hiatus and he needed a musical outlet to deal with certain topics. And now for a few years he has his solo project simply known as Nathan Gray, now with and added “and the Iron Roses”.
When talking about Rebel Songs one should not only look at the album in a vacuum, but also have Nathan’s past work in mind. The evolution of ‘Nathan Gray the project’ tells the story of a man scarred by his past, but eager and hopeful to change the status quo and move towards a better future for him and the world around. The third album in his solo career grabs the listener by their collar and drags them out in the street. Song titles like ”Capitol Stairs”, ”¡No Pasaran!” or the title track ”Rebel Songs” should make clear where the album is going and what problems are important to Nathan.
What’s interesting about Rebel Songs is the musical style he chose for the album. Fans coming from After the Eulogy, !!! The lost Album or any other of his work might be surprised how tame the vocals and instrumentation are. If you have listened to his two other solo albums though, this new one is the logical continuation of his previous work. It is for sure not a hardcore album musically, but lyrically it definitely is. The urge to stand up for what you think is right, to talk about the issues faced every day and the will to fight the oppressor are definitely shown on Rebel Songs.
Black Lives Matter, LGBTQIA+ rights, the fight against the increasing numbers of right-wing attacks on democracy and so much more are things Nathan Gray stands for. In ”Don’t Wait Up” he sings about the murder of George Floyd and his will to fight until the last victim of police brutality has seen justice. While he as a white, middle-aged man does not really have to fear systemic racism and oppression, he is willing to sacrifice his free time to go to the streets and protest for the people in need. ”I wanna be the first in line / The last to leave / Fist in the air and out in the streets”. With the album he tries to spark the fire of revolution in the listeners’ hearts, whether this will be successful or not is to be debated another day, but if only a few more people can be brought together to fight the injustice it will already be a win.
There is so much more one could talk about on Rebel Songs, like Nathan’s first rap song, yes you heard correctly, the collaboration with Tim McIlrath of Rise Against or what motivates him to keep on fighting this often seemingly impossible fight. The good thing is, we did and you will soon be able to learn so much more about the album, but you got to wait a few more days for that, keep your eyes peeled.
In the end, Nathan Gray’s third solo album, or the first one by Nathan Gray and the Iron Roses, however you want to count, is a great piece of contemporary music with a lot of passion behind it and a political message that will stand the test of time: ¡No pasarán!