Prior to last Sunday, I had no idea who Red were. I went to see Kutless for one of the shows on their “Hearts of the Innocent” tour. Red was one of the opening acts, along with Disciple and Run Kid Run. They only played four songs, but I was thoroughly impressed.
To be perfectly honest, when Red came out on stage I thought “hey, their singer, is that Chris Daughtry (of American Idol fame)?” to myself, hah. But while frontman Michael Barnes and Mr. Daughtry may look somewhat similar, the former by far has more vocal talent. Mike puts such an undeniable passion behind every lyric he sings, and the man has a phenomenal stage presence as well. The other band members are no slouches either. Right after their four-song set, I went to Red’s merchandise booth and picked up my copy of “End of Silence.” Now, with many CDs I have purchased, it was mainly because I heard a single I liked and ended up only liking two or three other songs. This is not so with “End of Silence.” Every song on here has the words “hit single” written all over it.
The only song I’m not entirely crazy about is “Lost,” but even that one is excellent. Standouts for me include “Breathe Into Me,” “Let Go,” “Already Over” (and its acoustic counterpart “Already Over, Pt. 2″), “Pieces,” and “Hide.” These guys take an aggressive hard rock sound and seamlessly mix it with spine-chilling piano, emotive string arrangements, and some of the most passionate vocals I have heard in ages. Whether Mike is crooning beautifully or letting out an in-your-face hardcore style scream, you feel every word he is saying. The instrumentation is also great; having two guitarists (Jasen Rauch and Anthony Armstrong) allows the band to experiment sonically a bit more than others in their genre, backed up by a tight rhythm section comprised of bassist Randy Armstrong (Anthony’s brother) and drummer Hayden Lamb.
Upon first listen, one might not be inclined to believe that Red are a Christian rock band. But all you have to do is listen closely to their lyrics to see that they are all about glorifying the Lord. Take the chorus of “Already Over” as an example: “I give it all to you, letting go of me, reaching as I fall. I know it’s already over now. Nothing left to lose, nothing you won’t do. I know it’s already over, already over now.” My interpretation of this song is that it is about one who feels like they are at the end of their proverbial rope and feels like giving up, but instead of relying on their own imperfect understanding they give their problem(s) over to God and let Him handle it, and that alone makes the end of their misery that much closer.
Several artists, both Christian and secular, have been cited as influential to Red’s sound. Personally, I hear traces of each of the following: Breaking Benjamin, 30 Seconds to Mars, Blindside, Kutless, Linkin Park (save the hip-hop beat driven parts of their sound), Killswitch Engage, and even a little bit of Howie Day (tell me with a straight face that “Pieces” doesn’t sound something like Day’s hit single “Collide”). Still, despite all of these influences, Red have their own unique sound that is distinguishable from other bands in the Christian rock realm. I think a big reason for this is Mike Barnes’ unique vocal stylings, but that’s just my opinion.
So yeah, to sum this review up, buy this album. Whether you are totally into Christian music or are not even remotely religious and can’t stand it, pick it up anyway. It is chock full of great tunes that just about anyone can get into.