The release of Red‘s new album Of Beauty and Rage went completely over my head. I didn’t even know they were recording a new album let alone released one late last February. I can’t remember how I became a fan of the band, but I know it was by the time they had three albums out, though their second album Innocence & Instinct was the first one I listened you. In early 2013 they released their fourth album Release the Panic (one of my earliest reviews on this site). So does Of Beauty and Rage, their fifth album, equal to what Red’s past efforts had to offer?
If you’ve read my past reviews, you know I’m not going to reveal that just yet. First we have to look at the album. For the sake of this album, for no particular reason other than the fact that I feel it will work this time around, I’m going to review Of Beauty and Rage in thirds. The first third of the album features the heavier side of the band. After the opening instrumental intro piece Descent, we’re treated to the first full song that Red has to offer, Imposter. It’s much of what Red has released in the past. It is loud and just layered with instruments, but the drums on a Red album never sounded so fake, which at times I’m sure they are. That’s a big downfall for much of the album.
As I said the first third displays Red‘s heavier side, where Michael Barnes does most of his screaming. Red fans are familiar with this side of his voice. His screaming in Imposter is the best part of the song because it adds passion that it otherwise kind of lacked. Shadow and Soul and Fight To Forget continue to mix the dramatic compositions that Red has done so well in the past with loud energy, but it takes a few listens to really hear the songs as something that the band hasn’t already done four times over. It’s Darkest Part that highlights the first third of Of Beauty and Rage with its consistently catchy hooks heard in both its verses and its chorus while staying true to the symphonic alternative metal sound Red has always done so well.
The middle third of Of Beauty and Rage is the more symphonic and melodic third, as apparent by the first song being the albums power ballad Of These Chains and the fifty-fifty second instrumental The Forest. As far as Red power ballads go, Of These Chains sounds a little more forced, at least vocally. I really enjoy the music of it, but it lacks a vocal hook. Falling Sky and What You Keep Alive are the most intense songs of this third of the album, but even they have more symphonic elements to them than much of the rest of Of Beauty and Rage. Well maybe not What You Keep Alive, but Falling Sky is one of the better music compositions of the album. This third is highlighted by Yours Again. It falls perfectly between the intensity of Falling Sky and the epic emotion of Of These Chains.
The last third of Of Beauty and Rage is fair game alternative metal and also consistently the best third of the album. Gravity Lies has some screaming, but melodically is more superior to just about anything from the first third. Take Me Over is one of very few songs on Of Beauty and Rage that sounds like nothing Red has ever really done before. The Ever is your typical Red melodic metal song, it sounds a little sad, a little passionate and considerably instrumental with all the violins and keyboards and layered guitars, but the best song from this third is definitely Part That’s Holding On. I’m aware saying “the best” is subjective, that’s just an opinion, but of all songs on Of Beauty and Rage, I think Part That’s Holding On’s main calling is its chorus. The chorus is just so good.
To conclude Of Beauty and Rage, Red perform a closing instrumental piece Ascent. Similar to the opening instrumental piece Descent, only about three times longer in length, Ascent’s main purpose on Of Beauty and Rage is merely to end the album the way it started. As the last song with a full band playing, I think Part That’s Holding On served perfectly in that role and really makes me reconsider my opinion of Of Beauty and Rage every time I hear it.
So does Of Beauty and Rage equal to what Red‘s past efforts had to offer? I want to say no. It’s too inconsistent. It has some great songs – songs that I may consider some of the best in Red’s career, particularly in the last third of Of Beauty and Rage – but they are just too few compared to past Red albums. This is sure to please existing Red fans, but I would urge new listeners to listen to just about any other Red album first before taking on Of Beauty and Rage. Red still have great days ahead of them, but they have to change things up a little more if they want to continue making music.
“Darkest Part” – Of the great songs on Of Beauty and Rage, I feel Darkest Part makes for the best highlight because of its consistent hooks all the way through. Musically it sounds much like many of Red‘s past songs, but then again so does much of the album. Darkest Part just serves as the best of those songs to hear in order to believe that there may be other great tracks on Of Beauty and Rage, which there definitely are.
7 (Out of 10)
|3.||“Shadow and Soul”||5:44|
|5.||“Fight to Forget”||3:28|
|6.||“Of These Chains”||3:53|
|10.||“What You Keep Alive”||5:22|
|12.||“Take Me Over”||3:51|
|14.||“Part That’s Holding On”||4:45|