Review Summary: Century's Red Giant is a massive, burning ball of malice that is just begging to be noticed.
Since the inception of the nearly anonymous side project known as Century, the band has gathered together in small amounts of spare time to undergo monstrous changes and end up culminating the furious masterpiece known as Red Giant
. The band has always had a bare-bones, animalistic simplicity to their music and their latest album has integrated a sense of pure virulence that is nearly unmatched in the modern music scene. This band is truly on a different level from the band members’ main projects and is the perfect outlet for built up punk-fueled aggression. Inspiration from groups such as Refused, Converge, Botch, and Rage Against the Machine are rampant throughout the album without ever being cloyingly derivative. As a matter of fact, it is the entirety of its influences which makes Red Giant
such a celestial monster.
It doesn’t appear to make sense that the album contains two members of a fairly clean-mouthed and inexplicit band contains plenty of in-your-face, spiteful uses of the word “***.” But it’s for that reason that it comes across as genuinely as it does. The fact these gentlemen have used Century as an outlet for years of pent-up aggression in the form of political and societal callouts have made it an infinitely more personal. Lines such as the following, taken from “Lobotomy” are thematic throughout the entire album:
“Complacence and rapists and homophobes and war-mongers and white supremacists and lobbyists and xenophobes and hypocrites and every single seat in the U.S. House of Reps: *** you
. Walk through my spit, through your war path.”
The album puts individuals, societal customs, political leaders, and everything in its path under a microscope in a way that avoids self-parody like one would expect when a band takes this lyrical approach.
Every song was written spontaneously, with Armellino and Slovak handing writing riffs by passing a guitar back and forth. The guitar riffs that form the basis of the poetic expression are perfect: it’s as if 90’s hardcore, Misery Signals, Rage Against the Machine, and Alice in Chains had 10 golden children. McFarland’s depth and experience behind the kit that comes from his years of experience in TOTA and his kinsmanship with numerous other Lancaster-based drummers (Matt Greiner, notably) adds another layer of up-tempo rage as he rarely goes several seconds without a noteworthy fill or pattern in impulse.
From these details, the album was literally pieced together. Each vocal segment was done in one take, and every verse was made up on the spot. Much like a battle of one-upsmanship between Slovak and Armellino, the verses and individual lines seem like they were made up in a rage of fury; each line more spontaneous and pissed off than the last. It stands as a huge improvement from their earlier work, as the vocals no longer need ridiculous amounts of takes from Slovak to piece together each song.
While Slovak is without a doubt the stronger vocalist, his screams are very monotone and short-winded, and Armellino injects a variety and chaos with his vocals that sound decidedly different from his work in TOTA. Often times, he is trying to channel his inner Bannon by twisting his voice higher than thought possible.
All of this tomfoolery was assembled by Slovak at his own recording studio, and the quality of the production is mind-blowing. Every riff, bass/drum line, and vocal track is exquisite. The production is super sludgy and dense, and the guitar and bass culminates in a mountain of sound. The drums are placed just slightly behind in a way that accentuates the power and emotion of the vocals while never undermining the performance of any instrument.
What separates this from any run-of-the-mill metalcore/metallic hardcore band is creativity and diversity to their sound. The album features clean singing by Candlebox frontman Kevin Martin and local folk-rock acoustic artist Adam Taylor in Century’s cover of his folk song, “Painting Leprosy.” While Candlebox might seem like a cringe-worthy-addition, Martin’s vocals are as unique as anything that’s been injected into heavy music.
Century is a departure from metalcore as we know it. Carson Slovak, Ricky Armellino, and Grant McFarland feed off the chaotic fury of Red Giant
. This album is a masterpiece and the band deserves some serious recognition for making music for all the right reasons.