Written by Jake Cannon. Media by Zach Bonner. What would happen if you fused Demon Hunter, Thousand Foot Krutch, and Daughtry together? You’d end up with a headache. But the child of that fusion would look similar to that of RED. Wikipedia describes their sound as: “Alternative rock, Christian rock, hard rock, heavy metal and post-grunge.” Basically, they are heavy rockers that wear eyeliner. Since their start in 2004, RED has sold over a million units and has garnered two Grammy nominations.
RED consists of vocalist/screamer/growler/menacing Michael Barnes, equally as menacing guitarist and bassist Anthony and Randy Armstrong (who look like they could rip my head off), and Skrillex look-alike drummer, Joe Rickard. Their previous albums have been End of Silence, Innocence and Instinct, and Until We Have Faces. They have recently released their fourth studio album entitled Release the Panic. Lead guitarist Anthony Armstrong, in an interview with ARTISTdirect.com, said, “We didn’t want to write the same ten songs we have written on the last three records…we wanted to strip away certain elements in certain songs to get down to the bare bones of the track.” This mindset helped to create RED’s most unique sound to date. To start the album off right, RED lets loose Michael Barnes scream in the opening song, “Release the Panic.” In one of RED’s most hard-core songs to date, Michael Barnes screams, “Blackout / Let your panic out / Let it out / Let it out / Release the panic / Oh, release the panic.” Barnes seems to be implying the world is like a countdown. In order to break free, you have to release the panic. And release it they do. Following up the panic are songs you would expect to hear from a group like Daughtry due to the nature of their sound. But the songs pack a deeper meaning than Daughtry could ever conceive. “Perfect Life” bemoans the possibility of a, well, perfect life by embracing the fact that they are “perfectly broken.” After that, “Die For You” follows a similar line of Bruno Mars’s hit single “Grenade” where Barnes sings of a dying love for someone who hates him. “Damage” brings us back to another one of RED’s heaviest songs. Ever. For a good 90% of the song, Barnes is growling and screaming. It is reminiscent, in a few ways, of some songs from their second album, Innocence and Instinct, where they sing-scream about the inner struggles people have. When it comes to those issues, RED doesn’t play nice. They let it loose, screaming what people are feeling. After these hardcore songs, RED follows up with one more, “Same Disease” which talks about the human condition being like a disease and we all have it. From here on out, RED stakes its claim in some heavy power ballads like the fantastic “Hold Me Now,” “So Far Away” and “Glass House.” RED has a very unique sound as each album progresses. To me, this album unfortunately, did not quite reach the excellence that Innocence and Instinct brought (I mean, they based an entire album on Dante’s Inferno, it’s hard to top that). Release the Panic brings some good old-fashioned RED mixed with some electronic beats (thanks to producer Howard Benson). While some things are new territory for RED, they still maintain their heavy sound, which is what drew me to them in the first place. RED has created yet another solid album that ultimately falls short in the face of some of their previous work. But in the mean time, release the panic.