Red – Gone
Words: Egypt Ali
When it comes to the band Red, I always come expecting something different. There are not many bands that can combine the classical sounds of a full-blown strings orchestra with the twisted guitar riffs. The band’s 2009 release Until We Have Faces accomplished this with both style and individuality. The sound and lyrics on the project set the band both apart and ahead of the rest of the scene. The problem is that this type of mix is also prone to things like over production and repetition. The danger is that each song may begin to sound the same with no sign of growth or development in the band’s sound. For many, this is was what Red became with each of the following releases. As snippets of the newest project Gone became available I became skeptical that Red had begun to fall into the hole some fans had pointed to. Thankfully they were not entirely correct.
The first track, “Step Inside The Violence” was very reminiscent of their first project End of Silence. The build up to the actual song was both intense and leading. Sort of like a staircase you have to both endure and climb to get to the top. After the first ten seconds it got to be a bit repetitive, but after twenty I was just waiting to actually hear the song. When the song did kick in however I was not disappointed. The opening riff alone was heavier than almost anything else they have released to date, which was a welcomed surprise. The sudden drop however seemed to be oddly placed and disruptive. In the same vein the sudden upswing was almost an assault on the senses. Personally, dynamic is a huge factor in my approval of a track however the track being dynamic and bipolar are two completely separate things. All things come sound great in moderation. This rule includes decibel levels in tracks. This could have been a production choice on the part of their engineering team to add variety. I would have been totally content with that choice had it not been for the fact that it was done the same way on every track. It almost became predictable. That is not to say that each song sounded the same, but it is to say that I felt they could have been a little more creative in their set up. That alone would have put this album on a whole other playing field.
My favorite track on the project would have to be “Still Alive.” Musically it shows their advancement within their instruments. What I am most impressed by however is the desperation in Michael Barns’ vocal style. The almost pleading nature of the lyrics are matched by the expression within his voice which is extremely impressive. The ability to convey intense emotion the way he was able to within this track was not only powerful but perfected. The instrumentation matched the volatile nature of the track and in all proved to be fun to listen to. It also caused me to separate the production of the album from the quality of the band. As much as I was not a fan of the way each song was pieced together, I was a fan of what each song was composed of. At the heart of this project is a band that has managed to defy time and all odds to be where they are today. The lyrics and melody were created by people who possess true talent in their craft. What happens after that initial idea or demo track is also not always within the band’s control. I want to make special mention of this because of what I said to open this review. I have heard that some fans were concerned about the direction that the band was taking because of how their songs have begun to take shape. They were not entirely correct, but also not entirely wrong either.
What this album does do is leave room for an impressive live show. I am not a fan of sudden changes for passive music listening. Where I am more inclined to accept it is in live show energy and role. I can see this album as the sound track of an incredibly energetic stage performance. I know for a fact that Red live and in concert is never just a performance, it is an experience and I would enjoy revaluating this album after seeing it performed. However this is a recorded album review.
Gone was an incredibly solid release. It was Red taking a step back in the direction of what made me love this band back in 2006. The raw intensity and brutal melody lines were apparent here, but in many places were over produced. There was almost so much added to the album that it took away from what was there. Whether this is an attempt to keep up with the industry, or simply a new change in post tracking methods, it did create a whole new dynamic in their sound that I am not entirely sure I like. However, the only thing that I ask from a band is that they continually try to develop their sound and artistry. In the end, Red has done that. It may have taken the form of some questionable production choices, it may be a vision of musical intros that I may not have misunderstood, but they have moved on from the 2006 version of the band that I fell in love with. The passion, the talent, musical prowess, and ability are there and have developed to progress on. I am just not sure that my support has followed.