Innocence or Instinct?
Posted February 11, 2009
When Red burst onto the scene in 2006 their debut album The End of Silence was hailed as a brilliant hard rock crosser-over album. While it seems longer than two and a half years since their debut which bagged a Grammy nomination Now Red is back with their sophomore album Innocence and Instinct a rock CD that explores the inner fight that we all battle.
Unlike most hard rock bands Red doesn’t deal in blazing guitar riffs, or screaming vocals though there are spots of both, Red’s music thrives on artistic music leading up to very up-tempo songs which are controlled brilliantly by lead singer Mike Barnes. The opening track “Fight inside” gives a lot of insight on what to expect on Innocence and Instinct: the cutting-edge instrumental intro, which begins many of the albums songs, paves the way for the hard rock music to begin, however the band restricts their loud base and blaring music allowing them their hard melodies to be very accessible even to those who don’t like hard rock. The one drawback to “fight inside” and on other tracks, is the absolutely unnecessary outburst of screaming vocals and demon hunter-like music which messes up the balance of the song.
The Achilles Heel of the music is those out-of-place shifts to a heavy metal band which deserves an entire rack—not a place on already solid tracks that have a great rhythm. The constant intrusion of sceamo infiltrates around a artistic chorus on “out from under” a song that compacts metal, with good hard rock often before ending in a rare electric guitar frenzy. The leading up to the incredibly crisp refrain of “death of me” is muffled rock music which points to the artistic qualities of Red along with “never be the same” which is the weakest song in terms of originality but still packs a punch.
It’s strange to hear a song like “shadows” which features the song writing of Benjamin Burnley (Breaking Benjamin) show the restraint to go over the top with heavy rock music and even stranger when the song ‘s tune is almost upbeat totally opposite to serious topics that are being sung about. This non joyless style, echoed in the covering of Duran Duran’s song “ordinary world”, is both unexpected and brilliant. A couple more examples of Red’s excellence is “start again” which is another song which stays hard but doesn’t go over the top and “mystery of you” which has a Flyleaf and Anberlin flair with it’s immensely enjoyable artistic rock tune.
The inner battle within all of us is detailed in Romans 7:18-25 and guitarist Jasen Rauch expounds on that theme: ‘Innocence and Instinct is about the duality of man. The album examines the fight between our childlike innocence and the instinctive side which makes us do things we shouldn’t’. “Confession (Whats Inside My Head)” is the title track in theme as it admits ‘It's part of my instinct’ but eventually runs toward the innocence of life ‘I'll run away/From everything I hate/Take this away/Help me escape/Take this away’. That subject is dwelled upon in “death of me” which wrestles with addiction to, regrettably, no positive outcome and so does “fight inside” when considering the internal clash (‘It's breaking me/I'm falling apart’).
To be fair there is a decent amount of angst, frustration, and hopelessness spread across Red’s ten track CD. “Out from under” cries from a dark place for God’s help but receives no answer and the final cut “take is all away” echoes similar sorrow (‘I'm breaking, I can't do this on my own/Can You hear me screaming out?/Am I all alone?’). Unfortunately “Ordinary world” does take a humanist stance on the trouble of this life (‘And as I try to make my way/To the ordinary world/I will learn to survive’). However it would be unfair to ignore all the positive outcomes that rise through the instinct like “shadows” which doesn’t rely on inner strength while standing in darkness, but God (‘I'm holding on to You/I'll never let go/I need You with me as I enter the shadows’). Other songs like “mystery of you”, “start again”, and “never be the same” all acknowledge the one key for survival, though admittedly the references to God are restricted to pronouns.
So where does this album lie: Innocence or Instinct? There is enough depression to pick on to take the instinct side yet what about the tracks that echo salvation clearly? There is no clear cut answer but for those who take the time to discern and pick apart Red’s conflict between the flesh and the spirit will be rewarded with hope and a stunning rock album to go along with it.
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