The state of hard rock in 2015 is dismal. It’s barely hanging on by the last faint thread of life and, frankly, I thought the time had come to call it out and give a time of death. It’s egregious. It would seem the last great era of rock music ended almost two decades ago. But something happened. The once great genre fell victim to a parasitic cancer known as nu-metal and It seemingly never recovered, as we were inundated with the likes of COAL CHAMBER and FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH over the past few years. But, alas, rock is not completely dead. And while it’s not quite the same genre that brought us the likes of ALICE IN CHAINS, FAITH NO MORE and SOUNDGARDEN, there are a handful of groups keeping the fire stoked. Among those elite few is the group RED, who’s fifth studio album, Of Beauty and Rage is out February 24 through Essential Records.
As the title would suggest, this record is the amalgamation of opposing values, combining moments of free range anger with passages of gorgeous melody. This can be seen right from the first moments, with lead track “Darkest Part”. Riffing guitar meets a backdrop of carefully arranged strings, culminating into a storm of feelings that is engagingly dramatic. The majority of what follows builds upon this dark, visceral and, almost, gothic sound. And while the journey includes a few finely tuned instrumentals and one over-the-top piano ballad, there is certainly no shortage of the rage that was so directly promised in the disc’s namesake. You’ll find the group at their heaviest on “Impostor”, “Fight to Forget” and “Gravity Lies”, the latter holding a very reminiscent feeling to the sound typical of fellow hard rock elite CHEVELLE. The songs “Shadow and Soul”, “Falling Sky”, “Yours Again” and “What You Keep Alive” walk carefully between the lines opposition, fluidly moving between the belligerent and the harmonious. And though the final act of the record losses some of its energy, the band more than makes up for it with memorable hooks, like that found in “Take Me Over”.
Throughout its fifteen tracks, I found myself favorable to almost everything that reached my ears. RED has shown themselves to be more than adept at producing harrowing ragers and inspired melodies. That said, my only criticism of the group is the downplaying of the guitars. On a rock record, I would certainly like to hear a larger focus placed on riffing and less attention to the strings and electronic elements. Now, I’m not sure if that’s the metalhead in me or not, but I just think the harder sections should have been a bit more plentiful. However, that’s not to say Of Beauty and Rage wasn’t a thrilling ride. All in all, the group’s fifth effort was still an enjoyable listen and would be a wise addition to your collection. Be sure to pick it up on February 24; you can thank me later.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Impostor”, “Fight to Forget”, “Gravity Lies”, “Take Me Over”