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Too Blind To See by Classic Disaster Too Blind To See by Classic Disaster

Veritas by P.O.D. (Payable On Death) Veritas by P.O.D. (Payable On Death)
What You Need To Know
Veritas is the eleventh studio record from rock...
Higher Power by Scott Higher Power by Scott
What You Need To Know
Scott...

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Not Too Blind To See Great Music | Posted June-13-2024



What You Need To Know:



Classic Disaster is a new Christian metalcore band formed in southern California. They recently released their debut EP - Too Blind To See - with a newer label called Sanctify Studios. Too Blind To See is their first major release, aside from some leading singles that gained attention from the hard rock and metal music scenes.



What It Sounds Like:



Modern metalcore bands often find themselves in a sea of bands who are doing similar things with their heavy music. Classic Disaster has a more alternative metal sound, leaning more into a continuous, groovy riffs that drives the music, instead of relying on guitar solos or breakdowns. Their sound is reminiscent of 2000s Christian bands like Pillar or Skillet.



Spiritual Highlights:



Too Blind To See features six songs, each of which accomplish something a little different. The opening song is exemplary of their mission as a band - to bridge hardship and hope in life through their music and lyrics. It invites the listener to open up and receive God in their life. The next song, "To The Ground," has the same in-your-face message that a lot of the now-big names in Christian rock and metal have had success with.



The EP seems to open up with more vulnerability as it progresses, finding the last two songs especially deeper with elements of faith and life struggles. "Never Alone" dives into the difficulty of trusting God even when we feel alone and even more so, with "Suffering." The EP is full of mature, honest, and biblical songwriting that is encouraging and refreshing.



Best Song:



There are strong contenders for my favorite song, as the lead singles, such as "To The Ground" and "Broken System" are solid songs for any fan of Christian metal. But the most impressive song is the closing one, "Suffering." The message of the song is something we can all relate to.



Lead singer Adam Castro screams a heartfelt cry to God with, "they say you hold the whole world in your hands/and if that's true then I don't understand/why there's so much suffering/I know you have a greater plan!" Lending to the song is the fantastic musicianship of the band, showcased in that your attention is kept through the almost 7-minute long song.



For Fans Of:



Pillar, Skillet, Bloodlines



Bottom Line:



It's not often that a metal band's debut is packed with so much potential and excellence. The singles were definitely leading up to something great and Classic Disaster delivered. The closing song showcased their ability to creature longer, more musically diverse songs, and I hope they lean into that more next time. Although, "To the Ground" was the most average of the songs, both lyrically and musically. Ultimately, the passion to share hope to a hopeless world with well-made alternative metal is clearly seen here. I hope more is to come from the band soon enough!

 




 

 







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A Win for Fans New and Old | Posted May-15-2024
What You Need To Know

Veritas is the eleventh studio record from rock legends P.O.D. "Veritas" translates to truth in Latin, something defining to the album's heart. The album art signifies a "culmination of innocence and dark hidden truths," by the band. After around 30 years, P.O.D. continues to rock their fanbase and perform strong.



What It Sounds Like

P.O.D. is known for their punk-rock and rap genres blended together. Veritas is no exception, but it certainly leans more heavily on the hard rock side of things. Some guest vocalists provide harsher vocals than lead singer Sonny Sandoval can typically provide. But their rhyming, hip-hop core is never lost, often weaving in anthemic choruses with the high tempo verses.



Spiritual Highlights

The Christian faith that Sonny and some band members hold near and dear has always shown in their music, from early days with Southtown to now Veritas. A few songs that highlight their faith and hope in music include songs like "I Got That," which proclaims that "I got that inhale, exhale life that you breathe/But since the world so fake only a few of you will." It's a harsh truth that Christians have hope to share but not all will welcome it.



One of the lead singles, "Afraid to Die," is spiritually deep. It is an declaration of eternal hope that "We ain't afraid to die/if the world is gonna end/you know that I'm bringing all my friends." This highlights our collective hope in eternity. The song also explores some of Sonny's personal testimony.



Best Song

The singles such as "Afraid to Die," "Drop," and "I Won't Bow Down" are certainly standouts. "Afraid To Die" is an impressive display of classic P.O.D.'s influences while introducing modern elements for a unique song reminiscent of "Youth of the Nation." But maybe the best song, a hidden gem, is "This Is My Life."



"This Is My Life" feels like authentic P.O.D., with southern California roots evident. The upbeat, popping rhythm is infectious and refuses to get out of your head. The songwriting also caught my attention, unashamed of embracing faith in our lives. The chorus embraces the shortness of our lives on earth with, "here and this is my life/here and gone away." Elsewhere, the guest vocalist Cove Reber, shouts, "we living One Love, One Way/and I don't care what the people say." I hope we can all claim that truth for ourselves as proudly as P.O.D. does.



For Fans Of

Manafest, Thousand Foot Krutch, Papa Roach



Final Word

After what has felt like, in my opinion, a few experimental albums, P.O.D. reinfuses hard rock into their unique blend of music genres to create a powerful record that instantly stands tall among their discography. Veritas has some of the heaviest moments, musically and vocally, in recent years, and it is a change for the better. If you haven't given P.O.D. a listen for a long while, you should. I think Veritas will win over old fans and earn new fans.


 



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A Higher Power For Scott Stapp | Posted March-23-2024
What You Need To Know

Scott Stapp, the lead singer of the rock band Creed, has also released numerous solo works. Higher Power, his most personal and spiritually honest record yet, is his fourth record since starting his solo career in 2005. Scott has been outspoken about his Christian faith in recent years, and his roots can be traced back to early Creed days.



What It Sounds Like

To say this new project is different from a Creed album would be wrong. Scott cannot separate that sound from his own music; it's who he is. There are beautifully melodious ballads and some of the heaviest songs he has created in a long time, such as the lead single "Higher Power" or "Black Butterfly." Talented guitarist Yiannis Papadopoulos also provides significant guitar riffs and solos on three songs.



Spiritual Highlights

Scott's faith is more noticeable on this record than on The Space Between The Shadows, his last release in 2019. The lead single, "Higher Power," boldly views God and how broken people like us need a savior. Scott is also very introspective, highlighting the impact of grace in our lives in songs such as "What I Deserve."



Scott's traditional, feel-good, encouraging songwriting is evident throughout, especially in the last three songs. But knowing these lyrics are coming from a place of faith gives them a stronger weight; I could even consider "Weight of the World" an encouraging perspective from God to us.



Best Song

The lead single, "Higher Power," is an explosive song that easily rivals Scott's music, from solo to Creed. The sound is high-energy, Scott's vocals are soaring and commanding, and the declaration of faith is refreshing. Though Scott's soft side is heart-warming, a song like "If These Walls Could Talk" is a prime example of his vulnerability to life. He admits to faults but confesses to change in his heart and ways despite the struggles, much like our lives in Christ.



For Fans Of

Creed, Skillet, Disciple



Bottom Line

Scott's faithfulness and honesty about his life with God are evident, and he is rewarded for it. However, there are a few complaints about the album. However, there was a pleasant surprise with a biblical reference in the line "What I Deserve," closing with "And we need to realize that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth." I would have loved to hear more of this direct truth from the many who will listen to this album. Higher Power is an emotional exploration featuring the dichotomy of living with faith in a faithless world.


 



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Reflecting on Spoken's Legacy | Posted March-18-2024



What You Need To Know



Reflection is the Christian metal band Spoken's tenth record in its incredible 28 years. The band released this record in a new partnership with XOVR Records, founded by Brian "Head" Welch, the lead guitarist and co-founder of the famous metal band Korn. Reflection is one of Spoken's largest albums, clocking in at just under an hour and featuring 14 songs.



What It Sounds Like



Spoken proves they have retained their edge after many years in the Christian metal scene. Besides being one of the largest, Reflection is one of the heaviest records to date--especially with some gnarly, aggressive vocals that will impress fans new and old. There is no shortage of adrenaline-pumping metalcore music with intense guitar riffs and nasty breakdowns. The heaviness is comparable to, maybe more, than 2013's fan-favorite Illusion album.



Spiritual Highlights



After building a legacy in the metal world, Spoken is known not just for lead singer Matt Baird's iconic vocals and excellent metalcore musicianship but also for their upfront, Christian-influenced songwriting. This record is full of mature and introspective songwriting, written from a biblical foundation.



The opening song, "Echoes," declares our eternal hope beyond the pain on earth. "Hourglass" proclaims, "Faith is the only thing I have," after lamenting lies taking over our lives. "In The Dark" is a softer song that questions, "Do you believe surrender changes everything/there's more than pain in your heart." The whole album is full of this hopeful, impactful, bold songwriting.



Best Song



One of the lead singles, "Sleeper (featuring Demon Hunter's lead vocalist Ryan Clark)," is one of two songs with a guest vocalist from Demon Hunter. The other is "Anymore (feat Brian "Head" Welch)," and it is the better of the two.



"Sleeper" is one of the heavier songs on the record, and Ryan Clark lends both clean and unclean vocals alongside Matt. It's a reflective song that explores our human nature compared to our awakened souls in Christ. 
The vulnerable admission of feeling lost is, "I was/That I thought was my own/Torn apart by the wolves/Where no mercy is shown." Much like the rest of the record, "Sleeper" is relatable and lost in a world that echoes our desire to grow and mature with a hopeful future in mind.



For Fans Of



Wolves At The Gate, War of Ages, Convictions



Bottom Line



The number 10 is often connected to a monumental occasion, whether years in the business or the number of albums made. For Spoken, it's far more the latter than the former. Yet, even after nearly 30 years, Spoken may have created their best record, number ten. Reflection runs longer than usual, almost an hour long. The album would have been more cohesive with fewer songs. But there are catchy, mid-range songs that many fans can enjoy and relate to, while some of the most intense songs in the band's history explode in your face and prove their expertise in the metal world. Ultimately, Reflection provides heavy songs that guide us through reflection on our pasts and look to hopeful futures in Christ.

 









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Nothing Lasts Forever | Posted January-18-2024
What You Need To Know

Project 86 has been a staple in the Christian hard rock and metal scene for 20 years. They have announced that their time in the music world is ending as a band and launched a crowdfunding project to fund their last album, which was so successful that the band split efforts to make a two-part concept album, OMNI, which is finally released in full.



What It Sounds Like

Andrew Schwab, the lead singer, and writer, shared on the As The Story Grows podcast that he had believed he had a nodule that prevented him from performing with such aggressive vocals that he tried in earlier Project 86 music. In 2020, he saw a specialist who opened his vocals, and now he unleashes the most intense metal vocals Project 86 has ever seen.



In addition to incredible vocals, the band's instrumental prowess has only grown in intensity to match Andrew. However, OMNI as a whole also features a variety of creative elements hardly seen before. Fans will hear electronic/futuristic parts throughout the record, just like Part 1. In a preferred change, there are fewer conceptual interlude tracks/pieces in Part 2 than in Part 1, lending to an onslaught of heavy Project 86 music.



Spiritual Highlights

OMNI is conceptual, so some of the biblical basis previous Project 86 records have is generally less obvious. This post-apocalyptic, sci-fi theme is foreign in lyrical content. The main plot revolves around technology that allows man to merge with artificial intelligence to become immortal.



The lyrics are visual and narrative in nature. The longing for immortality, or more so to be something greater than ourselves, is a universal experience. This event and pursuit reveal man's corrupt nature more than ever before; the plans for godhood are ruined, and disaster strikes. There are moral and spiritual lessons to be learned from the storyline of OMNI parts 1 and 2 beneath the surface.



Best Song

Each song in a concept album is a part of a larger storyline. A few songs stand out on OMNI Pt. 2. "Complete The Circle" is a more direct narrative of the OMNI story, with the tyrannical antagonist declaring, "To upgrade we must dismantle/to remake we first destroy." This futuristic story's message is all too real throughout history: the reckless, careless progress of humanity without God is a world without peace or love. Another song that complements the story is the single "UltavioleNt." This song's lyrics portray victims of a world like this, people who feel paralyzed in terror.



For Fans Of

Spoken, Becoming the Archetype, Disciple



Last Words

OMNI is a magnum opus of Project 86 and Andrew Schwab. It is a package for long-term fans and plenty for newer fans to love.  With Parts 1 and 2, OMNI will be a musical project that will echo in the minds of many fans for years to come, a showcase of musical expertise in balancing narrative, musical, and lyrical talent.


 



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Lacey Sturm's Metanoia-filled Masterpiece | Posted November-15-2023
What You Need To Know

Lacey Sturm is most famous for formerly fronting the award-winning rock band Flyleaf. After her family grew, she stepped down and started authoring books and doing guest vocals occasionally. She eventually released a solo record, Life Screamsto positive critical acclaim. Seven years later, her sophomore solo record, Kenotic Metanoia, is available after five singles.



What It Sounds Like

Kenotic Metanoia follows and expands on the musical style that Lacey established with Life Screams. The musicianship is familiar, from the rock and roll guitar riffs, pounding drumming, and melodic elements weaved throughout. It sounds like a natural continuation with notable growth in quality.



This is a hard rock record whose music reflects Lacey's rich range of emotional vocal control. Some songs are significantly heavier, such as the intense, iconic screams in "The Decree" or "(I Died)" but most showcase the masterful balance of melodic ambiance mixed with gritty rock music.



Spiritual Highlights

Lacey has always championed the love and hope of Christ in her music and ministry, from Flyleaf to books, guest vocals, and solo music. Unsurprisingly, her second album follows in the same vein as her first. It was evident through the singles leading up to the release that Kenotic Metanoia would be a voice for recovery, healing, and hope. The remaining tracks on the album explore these themes, some from the perspective of God and humanity, while the rest are traditional.



Lacey urges listeners to take the steps needed for healing, such as "State of Me," telling us that "some may fear running to the unknown/please just tell me where else can we go." The same message is heard in "Are You Listening," she empathetically claims, "We don't wanna jump but/we don't want to stay here/oh my God, please help me." Each song on Kenotic Metanoia is emotionally deep, maturely written, and stems from an experienced life that is on fire for God.



Best Song

Although five singles were released in advance, the album's complete tracklist of fifteen songs, including an intro and outro, was kept a secret. Admittedly, some singles like "The Decree" and "State of Me" were noticeably musically heavier. But like Life Screams before it, most of the album is more consistently a mix of enchanting melody and captivating vocals.

Lacey knows how to write a gripping song; one of my favorites is "Not Your Fight." The song explores God's encouragement during our struggles and spiritual battles. The chorus reflects Lacey's empathy: "Don't be afraid/Let fears wash away tonight/'Cause know that this is not your fight." The timeless truth that God fights for us day and night is repeated, backed by musical excellence.



For Fans Of

Skillet, Fireflight, Switchfoot



Bottom Line

Lacey Sturm's second album, Kenotic Metanoia, solidifies her status as a foundational artist in modern rock. Even better, her influence spreads Godly hope, love, and peace among listeners through her music. Anyone who seeks to deepen their relationship with God will benefit from the songs on this album. And for any fan of rock music, the emotionally masterful vocals from Lacey and the outstanding musicianship from her band are sure to draw you in and offer a change in your life.

 






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A Great Sophomore Record | Posted November-11-2023


What You Need To Know

 Sand & Cinder, Tide & Timber is American Arson's second full-length studio record, following the success of 2020's A Line In The Sand. The hard rock band signed with Facedown Records and promoted their record through five singles, including the triple release of "The Heat." This self-proclaimed "two-man wall of sound" continues to tour, play festivals, and work hard to get their music out to all willing to listen.

 

What It Sounds Like

American Arson's style of hard rock is catchy and accessible to all fans of rock music. Some songs and styles lean more heavily into punk or hardcore genres, but altogether, it's a hard rock experience that's unique in its own right. The band's impressive use of loops, pedals, and instrumentation compensates for the absence of a full band in every song. There are two songs shorter than the rest, acting more as interludes.

 

Spiritual Highlights

I have loved American Arson's songwriting since their 2015 EP, The Blood and Bones. Their lyrics continue to be mature, provocative, thought-stirring, and hope-inspiring. Their Christian faith isn't hidden, yet it's not always the only centerpiece. They write about politics, mental health, the music industry, and more.



On this record specifically, you'll find more openly faith-influenced songs like "Hammer & Gavel, "Blood," and "Low Tide." The band's humble beginnings are displayed in "Adversity." Meanwhile, the band encourages their listeners with "Arrowheads" to stay focused on our victory found in Christ.

 

Best Song

Some of the best songwriting of 2023 comes with the "The Heat" trilogy of songs. A three-part address to the state of the Christian music industry, greed in the church, and idolatry. "Run" calls out the greed of the prosperity-focused preaches and bands, warning them to run before it catches up to them.



"Moonlight" exposes the idolatry of looking up to fallible heroes, even if they were respected people in the industry. "Goodbye" is the declaration that we don't want to be like those called out previously, willing to sacrifice to keep ourselves upright. It feels wrong to pick one of the three, so their trilogy serves as the album's best highlight.

 

For Fans Of

 

Disciple, Kutless, Dens

 

Bottom Line 

Listening to Sand & Cinder Tide & Timber brings comfort and honesty to a world that often feels increasingly cold and fake. The genuine passion poured into each song is heard with empathy and sympathy for our complicated lives. Although "The Almighty Arsonist" and "Promises" feel more like interludes than full songs, they fall short compared to the rest of the album. American Arson continues to cement itself as an incredible musician, songwriter, and a powerful voice for this generation.


 







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Theocracy's Every Song Adds To The Epic Mosaic | Posted October-29-2023



What You Need To Know:



Mosaic is Theocracy's fifth studio album after a much anticipated 7 years since their last record - Ghost Ship in 2016. Mosaic is a Christian-based progressive metal fronted by Matt Smith in Athens, Greece. The band signed with Atomic Fire for this release, rather than Ulterium Records as they have previously.



What It Sounds Like:



This album is progressive metal at its finest. Theocracy has never sounded so tight and skilled. Every track displays elements of progressive and power metal that every fan would enjoy - such as plenty of exciting guitar solos, chunky riffs, soaring vocals, and masterful musicianship all around. All but one song are high-energy, catchy, and addresses topics of spirituality and earthly struggle.



Spiritual Highlights:



Theocracy has always held the Bible as its first and foremost influence on songwriting and Mosaic is no exception. As you listen to the record, you will hear spiritual truths proclaimed - from the fragility and preciousness of life, the condemnation of evil, to Biblical stores put into song. The first of those being most predominant in the themes with songs addressing grief, death, and the value of life, even if short.



Best Song:



Mosaic is a record that is full of expertly written and performed songs. You have the standout ballad, "The Greatest Hope," that tackles grief with hope. There is the lead single, "Return to Dust," which is focused on our eternal hope but short lives on Earth. The epic closing song titled Red Sea is a 3-part story highlighting the Exodus story and transcending its relevance to our personal spiritual journeys.



But my favorite is the opening song, "Flicker." It encapsulates the album's themes well and exemplifies the musical expertise of the band and the incredible vocal range of Matt Smith. The songwriting is woven in such a way that you relate to the meaning of spiritual alienation on Earth while comforting with eternal hope from beyond this place.



For Fans Of:



Stryper, Chaotic Resemblance



Bottom Line:



The seven-year wait for Theocracy's new music was, as always, well worth the wait. Mosaic is one of, if not, the best of the five records we have received from the band to date. Every song is unique and intriguing, full of power metal excellence. To say that each song is a piece of a mosaic masterpiece is both fitting and well-deserved.



The variation in song lengths was a welcome showcase of songwriting skill, although I would have loved another mid-sized song, such as "I Am" or "Laying the Demon to Rest." That size is perfect for this band's skill set, though "Red Sea" made up for that in my opinion. Mosaic will be a hallmark of any power metal release in the years to come.




 









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Conquering Metalcore | Posted October-12-2023
What You Need To Know

Dominion is War of Ages' 10th studio record and was released in partnership with Facedown Records like most of their music to date. They are a long-time staple in the Christian metal scene and continue to craft excellent Christ-centered metal. Dominion is a concept album, one of the firsts for the band to create - focusing on themes found in Revelation.

 

What It Sounds Like

War of Ages continues to center their music on a perfect balance of hardcore influenced metal music, leaning more into the hardcore style than metal, usually. From crushing breakdowns, energizing guitar solos, and soaring vocals, this record has all the foundations of a great metalcore record and hits all the right notes. Every fan of modern metalcore will find a song to love here.

 

Spiritual Highlights

One of my favorite aspects about War of Ages is their relentless passion for the Gospel. All their records are filled to the brim with mature and unabashed influence from the Bible. Some songs are more focused on relational struggles or mental battles, but you will never leave a record with hearing praise to God. Dominion is no different even focusing on judgement and damnation from the book of Revelation - which makes for a much more adamant songwriting perspective.

 

Best Song

Dominion is easily one of the best records in the War of Ages discography. From the soaring, gang vocals in the songs' choruses, to the blistering screams and growls, and all the filthy instrumentation. I think one of the best songs to exemplify the album's themes, showcase the band's incredible musicianship, and hit hard with the vocal style is "War."



As expected, it highlights the war that comes with Jesus' return, but with a somber proclamation that "there is nowhere to hide/no place to hide from truth" and praising His power with "war is His banner of conquest/destroying all who stand in His way!"

 

For Fans Of

Demon Hunter, Phinehas, Convictions

 

Bottom Line

Dominion is proof that bands can continually grow and evolve over time while they still create music that is fresh and invigorating. There are few bands that are as bold in their faith as War of Ages and can still make the songs sound mature and relatable. The praise found in the songs' lyrics easily encourage Christians and hopefully can turn the hearts of unbelievers with the unmatched talent found in the band members. In memory of their late drummer Kaleb Luebchow, this record will be a testament to his legacy and musicianship. After 10 albums and 20 years, War of Ages is still one of the best metalcore bands on the scene today.

 




 

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Rated Highly | Posted September-28-2023
What You Need To Know:

Rated R is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek name for RED. They are not bringing explicit lyrics or suggestive material with this release, rather, in their own words, it's the most unique and self-identifying music they've ever been able to make. This is the second record they've made off of a record label and the first that is fully created in-house.

 

What It Sounds Like:

Rated R features the most polished mix that I have heard from RED. From the first note and vocal run, you can tell this sounds different, in an effective way. Vocal styles range on this record more than others, too. The core of what identifies RED in a sea of hard rock still remains, though. As usual with RED, some songs are heavier with more screaming and lower tunings, while others lean into the melodic elements they masterfully weave.

 

Melodic songs like "Your Devil is a Ghost" remind me of songs like "Shadow and Soul" or "Already Over." Then you have the more straightforward hard rock songs that RED will always be known for, like "Minus It All" and "Cold World." There is something for fans of RED, new, and old, here. Unlike the original previous record, Declaration, there is a stripped-back ballad, "Tell Me How To Goodbye."

 

Spiritual Highlights:

RED has always written their songs from the relatable struggles of life that they maturely write about, but do not shy away from encouraging listeners with the underlying themes of faith and hope. They are not often the kind of songwriters that make their faith well-known on the surface of the songwriting, and Rated R is no exception.

 

The stories and themes of Rated R surround personal, internal battles, including feelings of apathy, loneliness, and surrender. Songs like "Last Forever" speak of this surrender with "I'm Calling Out Your Name" in the chorus, followed by "Emergency" calling out "I'm in my head again/without you I have nothing left/stay with me/rescue me!"

 

Best Song:

Even with a very enjoyable and tight collection of ten songs, some stand out more than others. The opening song, "Surrogates," sees the band trying a more experimental musical and vocal approach, which is fun. "Tell Me How To Say Goodbye" is a standout as the softest, most melodic song on the record, though isn't entirely as laid back as older ballads of theirs. But I love "Emergency." This closing track is climatic, and hopeful, and demonstrates the great musical expertise that we know RED is capable of.

 

For Fans Of:

Demon Hunter, Thousand Foot Krutch, Breaking Benjamin

 

Bottom Line:

RED's newest chapter in their independent musical journey is an immediate hallmark in their nearly 20 years as a band. But, a couple of the songs will blend right into their discography, which isn't entirely bad, but they don't stand out much. Rated R exemplifies RED as their best, a mix of soaring melodies, intense rock music, and mature lyrics that will meet you where you're at.

 




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