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Red - 'Until We Have Faces' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/60/39/ad/1264_reduntilwehavefaces_1305746051.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 18, 2011    
 
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A slight feeling of disappointment.

I have to say I was floored with the quality and immediacy of the debut Red album, 'End Of Silence', back in 2006. An incendiary emotion permeated the material, fusing uncompromising musical aggression and dramatic subtlety to great effect. The 2009 sophomore effort 'Innocence & Instinct', though still full of excellent songs, lacked its predecessors intensity and as such received a lot fewer visits. After just one or two spins of 'Until We Have Faces' I was left wondering whether the bands principal songwriters, Jasen Rauch & Anthony Armstrong, alongside producer Rob Graves, had lost their creative edge as the album just seemed to wash over me, registering very little impact. Several spins later and my opinion has changed somewhat, but not to the extent that the CD made my playlist for this issue. 

'Feeding The Machine' is a typically bold opening statement and the brutality of the arrangement highlights both Mike Barnes' vocals and an instant hook, predominant features of the first 2 CDs. From then on the writing patterns seem to follow a tried and trusted musical & lyrical ethos. Crunching guitars imbue the likes of 'Faceless', 'Watch You Crawl' and 'The Outside' with almost staggering power whilst the use of strings during the melancholic balladry of 'Not Alone' and simple piano framework of 'Hymm For The Missing' provide the necessary contrast. 'Lie To Me (Denial)' and 'The Best Is Yet To Come' have the most commercial appeal for single consideration without compromising the bands identity, proving that the songs do have some mainstream credentials. The sweeping orchestrations, synonymous with Red, still remain firmly in place, and it's the extensive use of strings and keyboards that fill out the sound, giving it a semi epic feel. The religious messages are embedded deep enough within the song structures to avoid being distracting, which comes as welcome news for a sinner such as me, allowing an artistic rather than spiritual message to
prevail.

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If I had to summarise I'd say that Red have managed to marry the energetic attack of 'End Of Silence' with the more laid back stylings adopted on 'Innocence & Instinct'. I guess it's easy to be critical when a band sticks to a recognised musical formula but initial reactions from a devoted fan base would suggest this has been a prudent move, whether strategic or not. Despite total album sales in excess of 600,000 and extensive tours of the States alongside the likes of Breaking Benjamin, Godsmack and Nickelback, it's hard to imagine Red walking across the Atlantic Ocean to play any dates in the UK. For that reason, regardless of my slight feeling of disappointment upon first hearing 'Until We Have Faces', I'll continue to track their recording development with a keen interest.... and if the album gets re-issued in several months time with extra songs and a bonus DVD my verbal admonishments will see me go straight to hell! Amen.

Dave Bott

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