RED Merges Christian Message With Modern Sound

by Brian Hilliker
Shield Staff

Red, an American rock band from Nashville, features a modern hard rock sound combined with a Christian message. Singer Michael Barnes, guitarist Anthony Armstrong and bassist Randy Armstrong's latest effort is "Of Beauty and Rage." 

Opening Tracks

“Descent," the opening track of the album, has an orchestral feel to it.  The track starts out quietly and builds from there. For the first five-to-seven seconds of the track, there is seemingly no audio at all. This unconventionally long silence at the beginning builds suspense for the listener and further gives the false impression that Red is a legitimate symphony orchestra. Overall, the song is an epic and emotional way to open up the album. 

“Imposter” blends together the symphonic sound from the first track with Red’s rock-based elements. The grungy guitars blend with the string arrangement to create a unique sound that is both heavy and light at the same time. Barnes’ vocals sound clean and clear and sit nicely in the mix. The pre-chorus of the song introduces gritty screaming vocals that help build the song toward its chorus.  

Red's Instrumental Elements

“Shadow and Soul” opens with a big guitar riff that is much heavier than “Imposter."  I thought this was a smart move by the producer who arranged the songs on the album because it gives the listener the feeling that the album is getting bigger and fuller as it progresses. 

Darkest Part," one of the album’s singles, has one of the most impressive and entertaining music videos I have ever seen. The verses of the song showcase some shifting dynamics and sudden jolts of electronic music. The choruses are huge and make use of all of the instrumental elements that have been showcased thus far in the album. 

“Of These Chains” starts off with some soulful piano arpeggios that are followed by more string sections. The vocals have some simple but enjoyable harmonies. The verses of this song have some haunting ambient sounds that add some interest and showcase more of Red’s softer side.  This song is definitely a good ballad. 

 “The Forest” is similar to “Descent” in the sense that it provides a break from hard rock and showcases Red’s more classical influence. The song serves as a bit of an intermission for the album and again almost resembles the background music that one might find hovering under the dialogue of a dramatic television show.

Second Half of the Album

“Yours Again,” serves as the start of “act 2” for “Of Beauty and Rage."  The song has an epic feel to it. The dynamic change between the bridge and chorus is quite remarkable. All things considered “Yours Again” is a strong start to the second half of the album.

“What You Keep Alive” trumps all the previous songs on the album in terms of heavyness. If at first you’re not convinced of this songs extreme heavy sound, just wait until it reaches the riff at 3:52. 

“Gravity Lies” has an interesting transition between its extreme heavy parts and its calming acoustic guitar parts.  I especially like the addition of the acoustic guitars in this song as it marks the first really noticeable appearance of an acoustic guitar part on the album. 

Final Songs on the Album

“The Ever” has some interesting electronic ambient sounds to it. There are also some great background vocal parts in this song. The percussion elements provide a satisfying end to “The Ever” and help set up the second-to-last song of the album.

 “Ascent” sounds familiar right? This song is the album’s “official” ending. It acts as a mirror image of the album’s opening track “Descent." I thought this was a nice way of wrapping up the album because the reintroduction of the strings section from “Descent” serves as another great example of the glue that holds this album together and makes it more than just a collection of songs.

Overall, I found Red’s “Of Beauty and Rage” to be an enjoyable listen. I  recommend this album to anyone who likes modern hard rock or metal music.