Review Summary: More needle, less Thread
Taking up a proposition to review an album which had garnered no attention, I set out to indulge in what was described as a “clean, hard rock album”. Clean is a word listeners nor performers don’t often associate with rock as it denotes sterility. Yet there are few other ways to describe how this album feels as listeners reach towards the last few tracks.
Truth be told, Red Sun Rising’s second LP, Thread, has its share of enjoyable moments. The walking riff that opens “Deathwish” gets your foot tapping. “El Lazo” changes the tempo just enough from the songs preceding it and includes a memorable chorus led by vocalist Mike Protich. In fact, if there’s one standout strength to this album, it’s the big choruses that beg for a long drive, windows down through the American mainland. Protich leads the band with a satisfactory vocal performance, even if he doesn’t quite soar. His efforts fall somewhere between Ian Kenny of Karnivool fame and Scott Weiland, though nearly devoid of any gruff vocals. The moments where he pushes himself and the rest of the band ups the tempo is where Red Sun Rising truly shine (pun). “Veins” is the best example. Every instrument keeps a quickened pace throughout the song’s duration and the uplifting lyrics help bring everything together to make rock solid headbanger. Pity these moments are few and far between.
The biggest sin of Thread is the alarming lack of originality. The band is clearly talented and their production top notch; but all the firepower in the world isn’t worth a damn if no one is willing to pull the trigger. Long way of saying that Red Sun Rising, on their sophomore LP, take no risks. The guitarists rarely deviate from the clean-to-distorted arrangements done to death by their peers, with nary an engaging solo or standout moment to be found. Everything just feels stale.
Almost every song on here will remind you of another, often better, musician or riff. “Clarity” is a great slab of hard rock, but it is plagued by a structure eerily reminiscent of Tool and Themata-era Karnivool. There’s nothing wrong with drawing influence, but it’s a fine line between paying homage and outright theft. Red Sun Rising don’t quite cross that line, but they’re close enough to make seasoned listeners raise an eyebrow. The only song that deviates from the norm is “Evil Like You”, the baffling final track. The sludgy riffs and darker tone of this song stand in stark comparison to the rest of the album to the point where it’s almost uncomfortable to listen to. It’s a muddled mess that goes nowhere; bringing no sense of finality and sharing no thematic thread (pun) with the rest of the songs.
We live in an age, or I’m of the age, where a catchy chorus with some fuzzy guitar hooks just don’t cut it anymore. Bands of the early to late 2000s alt rock and post-grunge movement capitalized on better production values to bring this brand of rock to hungry masses; and everyone from Nickelback to Hoobastank joined the party.
Red Sun Rising display enough skill to compose a solid jam or three. However, if they want to push beyond the success of a couple of singles and a handful of catchy songs: the third LP needs a lot more needle, and a little less Thread. Pun. Comedy comes in threes.