Review Summary: An apology with strings attached.
With Release the Panic,
alt-rock giants Red found themselves in an unenviable position. Spurred on by critics and their own musical growth, Red brought on producer Howard Benson and attempted to shed the strings-heavy, nu-metal sound fans grew to expect in favor of a more stripped-down, pop-rock direction. I commend Red on moving forward and trying their hand at different styles (especially in the hook-laden melodies of "Perfect Life" and the electronic beats of "Die For You"), but in the direct wake of the nearly-flawless Until We Have Faces, Release the Panic
Release the Panic: Recalibrated
is pure and simple fan service. By "recalibrating" six tracks from the album and adding one B-side, Red are apologizing for pushing into territory that was never theirs for the taking. The treatment includes layers of melodramatic strings atop the heavier songs and a more thorough remixing of the softer ones. The result is subtler than many listeners will expect from a remix project, but fortunately it greatly improves the final product. The title track is the standout; the guitar work is by no means bad, but they just do not have the necessary grunt to carry the entire song, and the complex string harmonies result in a fullness that was not present in the original. "Glass House" is a significantly more dynamic track after the "recalibration," despite sounding a bit like a filler track on RTP
. Neither "Hold Me Now" and "So Far Away" are truly improved by the remixing, but neither are they hurt by it. The album's closing number, "As You Go," is relentlessly catchy and serves as one of Red's best album closing tracks, greatly overshadowing RTP's
forgettable "The Moment We Come Alive." The only awkward remix on the album is "Damage," which, as one of the strongest offerings on RTP
, needed absolutely no additions - and the result is decidedly subtractive.
The lone newcomer to the track listing is opener "Run and Escape," which, surely to the delight of fans, is very much drawn from the vein of Innocence and Instinct.
The unusual song structure, abrupt tempo changes, and unique chord progressions coalesce into one of Red's most solid offerings on any album. Why the band put aside this gem in recording RTP
is anyone's guess. Its only shortcoming is production; whereas previous producer Rob Graves can mix extremely bass-heavy guitars with astounding clarity, Howard Benson unfortunately cannot. Still, "Run and Escape" is nothing less than a fantastic album opener.
Some might discredit Recalibrated
with being disingenuous; a product of a band that no longer understands its strengths or its weaknesses. And perhaps, at times, the additions do feel somewhat forced and arbitrary. But on its own, Recalibrated
is a shorter, mostly fluff-free, improved retelling of a story Red stumbled through the first time. If Recalibrated's
"Run and Escape," "Release the Panic," and "As You Go," have anything to tell us, it is that Red listens to their fans, and, for once, the fans were right. Apology accepted, Red.