Redlight King
Irons in the Fire



by Pistol Pete USER (32 Reviews)
January 6th, 2014 | 9 replies | 958 views

Release Date: 09/10/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: After a promising debut album, Redlight King releases a sophomore album that forgets what the band did well before.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

When Redlight King burst onto the Canadian music scene in 2011, singer Mark Kasprzyk (known as “Kazzer”) enacted some mixed reactions with his ballsy sample of timeless Neil Young hit “Old Man”. Imagine all those folks who hold Neil Young in high esteem letting their ears be filled with this rock song that contains Kazzer’s “almost-rapping” lyrical style, shamelessly weaving in and out of the sample in the chorus. Needless to say it got some people’s attention for better or worse. The debut album Something for the Pain took that sound and tested it over a variety of different tones, some heavy and some more subdued mainstream rock.

Now one thing should be made clear before going further. When I say there are rock songs containing “almost-rapping”, please don’t dismiss it as some immature nu-metal band full of angst-filled old men trying to re-live their glory days. Kazzer ensures that the sound maintains a more mainstream rock feel, rapping about more mature subject matter involving growing up in a steel town (Hamilton, Canada). When he belts out his raspier harsher vocals, he sounds like a younger Richard Patrick from Filter and it sounds comfortable alongside the heavy guitar.

Follow-up sophomore album Irons in the Fire continues this movement towards mainstream rock and away from rapping. After listening to it you would never guess that Kazzer used to have a solo career as a rapper that even saw him nominated for a Juno award in 2004. What is slightly disappointing is that while this rapping was cheesy in some parts of the debut album, it was a defining characteristic of Redlight King’s sound, something that set them apart. And when it was done well, it simply worked. There seems to be a conscious decision to minimize that rapping style on this new album. We only ever see it pop up sparsely throughout the record (see “Wipe The Floor With You” and “Redemption”) and frankly the album ends up feeling emptier because of its absence.

It isn’t just the rapping that’s missing either. Redlight King used to incorporate strings in a few songs as well, examples being the title track on their debut and “Comeback”. As with other rock bands that incorporate strings such as Red, the mixture tends to work phenomenally well and often bolsters what could have been just a formulaic hard rock song. It appears as though Kazzer intended this sophomore album to be all rock, plain and simple. The heavier riffs seen in opener “Dark Side of the Moon” or single “Born to Rise” are great examples of this direction. However, as is usual among hard rocking albums, it’s sometimes difficult to keep that sound fresh. Eventually it begins to feel formulaic. When “Bleed” quiets down after the second chorus, it suggests a guitar solo is brewing. So when the solo actually comes, it feels a bit too predictable and underwhelming.

It’s not to say that Irons in the Fire is a huge drag to listen to. It’s a mainstream rock album that has a bit of radio-friendliness to it. So while all the songs are structured similarly and aim to do similar things, there is usually at least a few that will click. But there’s always this feeling that the band is capable of being more than this, capable of truly enormous and passionate rock that was seen more often in their debut than here.

Recommended Songs: Dark Side of the Moon, Born To Rise, Critical

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user ratings (6)

Comments:Add a Comment 
January 5th 2014


Album Rating: 2.5

Proof that Kazzer used to be a solo rapper: (surprisingly catchy)

Single "Born to Rise":

Digging: Jolly - The Audio Guide to Happiness (Part 2)

Staff Reviewer
January 5th 2014


Well written review, pos.

Digging: Troldhaugen - Obzkure Anekdotez For Maniakal Massez

January 5th 2014


Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks! Haven't written a review in a while, just been kinda moseying around the site these days.

January 6th 2014


Album Rating: 2.5

I've got the album, but the only song I ever listen to is Born To Rise, which is not too bad

Green Baron
January 6th 2014


I hear Born to Rise all the time on ESPN. Pretty decent song

Digging: Royal Blood - Royal Blood

January 29th 2014


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

When groups stay with one style they get ripped, when they try to branch out and expand themselves they get ripped. I love both of these albums, and I am glad RLK has expanded. The first album was great but I thought the album grew too samelike as I listened to it. The energy on this latest album is very high and I appreciate that. I love that they have better incorporated the band members playing abilities in this new album. Let's see what their third album is like, I am betting it will be a real nice combination of the two. Having seen them three times in concerts, both as a secondary band and as a headliner, they have climbed my favorite band list pretty rapidly. They probably won't unseat Stone Sour on my list, but they are trying!!!

January 30th 2014


Album Rating: 2.5

My argument is more along the lines of this: expanding, in and of itself, is fine. But expanding is
more about taking what worked and seeing the possibilities of where they can go with that. Here I
would argue they expanded further into territory that was already a cluttered genre before they
arrived (mainstream rock) and became more like the general masses instead of keeping themselves
distinguishable. And I argued that the rapping was the key thing that made them distinguishable, it
worked. And to just forget that strength was kind of foolish in my eyes.

Hey man...I wouldn't have reviewed this band if I wasn't even slightly immersed and interested in what they do. They're a good band, this just wasn't a hit with me. I have a great opinion about the other
album though.

January 31st 2014


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

One issue with the rapping (which does indeed separate him from the pack) is that it partly nullifies the members musical ability. I think they wanted to show that side of themselves. That is why I really can't wait for their third album, even though this one obviously was just recently released.

Green Baron
May 31st 2014


Times Are Hard is pretty good

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