When we last left Red, the nu-symphonic-metal rockers ditched their signature strings for a more punishing sound, sacrificing precision for chaos in Release the Panic. Though they still proved to be a viable rock band without their usual gimmicks, the release of Release the Panic: Recalibrated was a sign that Red understood they had a style to maintain.
Of Beauty and Rage, their fifth studio album, does more than bring back their old sound. It imbues it with the strength of fire and the grace of roses. The album title is a hint at the dueling melodies, but the synchronization of destruction and perfection are oftentimes astonishing. It’s a tremendous feat to present so much love and anguish in one collection.
If you’re a longtime Red fan looking for them to take their next step, this is what you’ve been waiting for.
If you didn’t know any better, you’d think this intro was taking us into an orchestral overture.
The electricity pulses. The monster twitches with life. Red is back.
Now would be a good time to bring up that electro-metal arsonist Blue Stahli provided some of his own sounds and vocals on this album, and they add some serious juice to this song in particular. Yes, a band named Red worked with a guy named Blue.
3. “Shadow and Soul”
Logging in at almost six minutes, “Shadow and Soul” starts off like a rocky Release the Panic cast-off and emerges into one of the more striking performances on the entire album. Michael Barnes’ vocals have never been better:
“Dark and light
4. “Darkest Part”
Arguably their best song on here, I’d go so far as to say this is the best song of their entire career. The ambient static intro meshed with the sheer despair Barnes delivers soon digresses into a panic that sticks in your chest. The name Of Beauty and Rage dictates the tone of this album, and this track epitomizes the balance between fleeting and torturous anguish.
“You looked inside, then you turned away.
My makeshift savior
He left me right here in my chains.”
5. “Fight to Forget”
Classic Red, but it serves as adequate album filler for a number of standouts.
6. “Of These Chains”
We’ve reached the first ballad and, as is commonplace with this band, it’s flawless: “I’m breaking free/But of these chains, let this one remain.” The slow piano and violins came at a good time, because…
7. “Falling Sky”
Unrelenting devastation. I’ve never seen a band mix elements of strings and nu-metal to such elegant yet terrifying results. Similar to “Darkest Part,” there is a palpable panic here that makes it uncomfortably real.
“Under a falling sky,
There’s nowhere to hide.
The terror is real this time.”
So hold on and pray for survival.
8. “The Forest”
A classical pallet cleanser for the onslaught you just endured.
9. “Yours Again”
I can hear a lesser version of this song popping up on Innocence and Instinct, but the subtle layers and genre splicing turn this into something so big that it could only fit on Of Beauty and Rage.
10. “What You Keep Alive”
Ooh, it’s getting a little manic over here. This track leans on the droney side and can be a little off-putting. Not bad, but not a favorite.
11. “Gravity Lies”
Red likes to keep the boat rocking, in more ways than one. So interspersed between melodic verses, we have little explosions of emotion. Some may want a song that keeps a consistent heart rate, but those people don’t understand what this album is about.
12. “Take Me Over”
This sounds just like Linkin Park’s “In My Remains.” Regardless, it hits home on several levels being one of the more balanced songs listed here. A rocking power ballad (for this band’s standards) that everyone can digest.
13. “The Ever”
Two seconds into this song and the chilling void will take its hold. We heard mention of the albums title on “Yours Again,” but the delivery of, “It’s beauty and rage,” in this song left me gasping for air. It’s almost the antitheses of “Darkest Part,” with a story about resurrection. Almost as good.
“Like a hope without a faith,
Like your eyes without a face,
Like an instinct with no other life to take,
It’s beauty and rage.”
14. “Part That’s Holding On”
Can you hear some of “Only One” by Yellowcard in here? Take that 90s alternative rock and mix in an eerie buzzing in the right speaker, and you’ll have a dynamic you’ve probably never experienced before. A triumphant and tragically hopeful way to end an ambitious record.
And our ride ends where we started, though it seems a little brighter.
It’s just about everything I could ask for in rock music for 2015.