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Rated Highly
Posted September 28, 2023
By RyanAdams_NRT, Staff Reviewer


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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