Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Red : Innocence and Instinct review

When I first heard of Red, It was from a promotional sample CD that I received. In it was Red's single "Breathe into me". As I listened to the single and the lyrics, I said to myself "umm, this sounds Christian". Months later I learned that Red was one of the few Christian rock bands that had some crossover success to mainstream radio.

The album kicks off with "Fight Inside". Listeners of Red's End of Silence will feel right at home with this song, as it is very similar to the sound of their previous album. This is one of my favorite songs in the record, as it creates a sort of relaxing and yet dark ambient, with minor chords and tonalities that run through this song, and not surprisingly, to the rest of the album. Then "Death of Me" changes gear into a more fast paced Red, the drums being the main ingredient in the song. "Innocence" has one of the best uses of strings arrangement that I have ever heard in a rock band. Its use nicely complement the music, adding an extra layer of depth to the sound. The strings are now deeply entrenched in Red's sound, being an integral part of their new sound, and not merely a nice flowery finish.

"Start again" is a good example of how the strings are an integral part of Red's new sound. And talking about the sound of Red in the new album, it has changed somewhat since the release of "End of Silence". The sound is harsher and darker, and in my opinion, much better than before. Red has matured and found their own unique sound, distinguishing themselves from other bands that had obviously influenced them (the best example perhaps being Linkin Park). Sure, there are some catchy tunes, but they all are framed within the context of their new sound. "Never be the same" sounds like the next perfect single, as it is one of the most catchy, and radio friendly songs on the album. It is even somewhat formulaic, but deliciously haunted by the harshness and darkness that fills Innocence's songs.

"Shadows" is another highlight of the album. The guitar riffs are very harsh, making it one of the heaviest tracks on the record. Even the strings are more subtle, leaving most of the work to the band, and particularly to vocalist Michael Barnes, as he screams his way through parts of the song. Things slow down with a cover of Duran Duran's "Ordinary World". It works surprisingly well. Red's sound permeates the song, making it more dark and harsher than the Duran Duran's original. Then comes one of my favorite songs of the album, "Forever". This endearing and yet hard-hitting song talks about redemption and how God can rescue us from darkness, even if we perceive Him late. It expresses a kind of redemption enjoyed after much sourness spent in darkness.

The album closes down with "Take it all away". It starts very slow, with a "dark" piano sound setting up the ambient of the song. Barnes' voice is barely audible, the words almost slithering out, until the chorus comes asking God to "Take it all away". In the middle of the song, the piano and the strings take charge, repeating the melody in which it started. After that, the band slowly ups the tempo, a crescendo that explodes emotionally with Barnes repeating "You take away". Perhaps the best song of the album.

Album grade: A-

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