All of life is a unique collision of seeming opposites, the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. And on their latest outing, of Beauty and Rage, hard rock outfit RED places that compelling dichotomy front and center, tackling the darkness of the world while juxtaposing it against the beauty that is found in grace and mercy. It’s a sound and mission that is squarely within the band’s wheelhouse and they take it and run, resulting in a strong, emotive effort.
While many bands have attempted to display this yin and yang of sorts within their lyrics, RED takes it a step further and incorporates the contrast into the better part of their compositions. Thus, of Beauty and Rage reads almost better consumed in one, hard rocking sitting as opposed to cherry picking a track here and there. Blending their signature, hard hitting jams, accented with Michael Barnes’ angst-filled screams with more melodic notes, sweeping strings and gentle moments, they capture listeners and leave them wondering just what might come next, ironically a feeling not unlike real life.
A theatrical “Intro” leads the album off, setting the moody tone while “Imposter” quickly builds to a frenzy, Barnes’ vocals at once melodic and then morphing into emotive screams while Anthony Armstrong’s raging guitars press the track forward. It’s the first of many such contrasts and RED puts their all into it as they ebb into the layered rock of “Shadow and Soul,” warm keyboard notes providing an organic tone in the quiet.
A rise and fall vibe colors “Darkest Part,” bassist Randy Armstrong dropping heavy lines across Anthony’s riffs, creating a wall of sound that Barnes’ shreds with his vocals. “Fight to Forget” keeps that energy flowing, chunky bass throbbing throughout while the chorus emerges into a moody, murky vibe, Barnes screaming “I would die to forget you/Let me go/Let me go!” before seguing into the string and piano driven ballad, “Of These Chains,” which stands as a bit of beauty within all of the rage.
The rocking picks right back up with “Falling Sky” and is perhaps at its most intense, moments of mid tempo instrumentation giving way to more animalistic screams and thrashing guitars while “The Forest” provides another quiet, almost theatrical moment of peace within the storm, the rich strings helping to ease the pain. “Yours Again” builds on some insistent percussion and delivers some solid radio rock as “What You Keep Alive” turns the amps up to eleven and lets the rage out, Barnes’ screaming anchored by Anthony’s frenetic guitar work, the track oozing with passion. It’s that same passion which helps to fuel “Gravity Lies,” the melodic meeting the discordant in a strangely beautiful collision, which may best be the way to describe this record.
“Take Me Over” is a track that resonates with rock radio stardom in its sights as “The Ever” carries along on in a similar vein. Rich melodies and a hopeful note stir in “Part That’s Holding On” while the record comes to a contemplative, dramatic close with the strings of “Ascent.”
With of Beauty and Rage, RED manage to do more than just create music. Rather, they create an atmosphere of emotion that all listeners can find themselves in. For the collision of Beauty and Rage is part of the path of life, where we deal with life and death, love and loss. Here, Michael Barnes’ and company capture the heartbeat of that shared experience and create a compelling listen.