Release Date: February 24th 2015
Reviewed by: Micah Garnett
RED– Of Beauty And Rage (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- Shadow and Soul
- Darkest Part
- Fight To Forget
- Of These Chains
- Falling Sky
- The Forest
- Yours Again
- What You Keep Alive
- Gravity Lies
- Take Me Over
- The Ever
- Part That’s Holding On
It’s been two years since RED released their last full album, Release The Panic. Widely panned by fans, Release The Panic was a noticeable departure from RED’s traditional symphonic rock style, and it showcased a low point in the otherwise brilliant career of the band. Now RED returns with their fifth full album, Of Beauty and Rage, which is a definite return to their roots, and it just might be their best effort yet.
After teaming up for Release The Panic with a new producer in the form of Howard Benson, RED listened to fans, and chose to return to Rob Graves, one of the best rock producers out there. Graves has produced two of the best rock albums of the past decade with RED’s Innocence & Instinct and Starset’s Transmissions. Innocence & Instinct is not only my favorite rock album of all time, but is right up there with the best albums I’ve ever heard. Immediately, one can tell that Of Beauty and Rage draws heavy inspiration from that album, choosing to focus on heavy guitar riffs, screams, and strings, all contrasted against quiet piano and haunting melodies. It’s actually quite surprising just how much Of Beauty and Rage feels like the second coming of Innocence & Instinct. “Fight To Forget” and “Darkest Part” would feel right at home on that album, and are two of RED’s strongest songs to date. Rob Graves’ hand is clearly stamped on each and every song, and it’s a welcome return.
“Tell me that you were never real. You need another soul to steal. You’re my impostor. Tell me you were never really real. Impostor, my impostor.”
“Impostor” kicks off the album, and rivals “Feed The Machine” as one of the heaviest songs of RED’s career. In fact, there’s hardly a song on Of Beauty and Rage that isn’t heavy. “Of These Chains” is the sole ballad, and is surprisingly mellow, yet beautiful. Even the heavier songs such as “Shadow and Soul” and “Gravity Lies” change it up at times, so you never really know what to expect next. That is a testament to a good production, and there’s no end to it here.
There is an honest desperation on Of Beauty and Rage, a journey to one’s own salvation. Michael Barnes holds nothing back in his exploration of the human condition and psyche. “Falling Sky”, the climax of the album, speaks of a life without hope, and living with the consequences of poor choices. The cataclysmic strings and instrumentation bring everything to a boiling point, and you can feel the emotion seeping into the depths of your soul.
“Now it falls all around me. Did I think I could run away? Now it’s coming to find me, this war that I deserve. Now it burns across this shattered earth. I lift my eyes to fire. Under a falling sky, hopeless, there’s nowhere to hide. The terror is real this time. Under a falling sky.”
“Yours Again” is the turning point, a reclamation of faith, as the listener discovers the hope they were looking for. “What You Keep Alive” and “Take Me Over” continue these themes with brilliant songs that showcase RED’s creativity and experimentation without sacrificing the elements that make them great. “What You Keep Alive” features work by Blue Stahli and bleeds with chaotic, screaming guitars and even autotune. It’s an interesting dichotomy that I never thought would work on a RED album, but boy was I wrong. “Take Me Over” is my favorite song on the album, because of its contrast with the earlier desperation. If there’s one thing RED is great at, it’s conveying pure emotion in their music, and “Take Me Over” exudes with honest hope, and also serves to showcase just how much Barnes’ vocals have improved over their past few albums.
“I am standing on the edge. Take me over, take me over. See how fast this life can change. Take me further, lead me further. Do you believe a life can change?”
Of Beauty and Rage is the album that RED fans have been asking for, for years. It features everything people love about the band, with expert craftsmanship, production, and songwriting. It is the band’s heaviest album to date, and perhaps the most beautiful, cementing itself as the definitive RED album. Almost every song is an instant classic, making it impossible to choose a favorite. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and let RED take you on a journey of redemption from start to finish.
3 Songs to Listen To: Darkest Part, Gravity Lies, Take Me Over
RIYL: Skillet, Disciple, Starset