Review Summary: Why reinvent the wheel when you can either add to it or improve upon it?
Technological updates aren’t always seamless. They may cause the device in question to run slower or they may delete vital files. Updates can also feel unnecessary. But when they work, they are a convenient way to modify and improve the device in question without requiring the purchase or invention of a new one.
In 2006, End of Silence
wasn’t the first album to push orchestral, pop-influenced metal. Skillet released Comatose
the same year, Rammstein released both Mutter
and Reise Reise
in the years prior. Evanescence broke through in 2002 with Fallen
and one can’t forget Linkin Park’s seminal Hybrid Theory
and fan-acclaimed follow-up Meteora
. Along with the aforementioned groups, RED most definitely was (and is) an update to the mainstream hard rock/alternative metal program. Heavy rock music didn’t just have to be meat-and-potatoes and fueled with guitars and drums anymore, and it could also prove that the genre could have a mainstream appeal without losing its edge. To be clear, without its super-powered gigabytes , End of Silence
would be a perfectly passable and enjoyable rock project. Alas, though, that is all it would be. And it is these improvements that allow the record to both rise above and stand with its contemporaries.
Feature #1: This album is relentlessly intense and authentic. An important distinction, though, must be drawn here. The disc isn’t consumed with being as heavy as it can; it isn’t a death metal album. It’s not full of low-range growls and blast-beats. But it is undeniably loud and forceful. The riffs break over the listener like a caffeine-injected tidal wave. Vocals (both clean and dirty) penetrate the skin and burrow into the heart and brain, while the strings and programming act as mood-lighting for the experience. Vocalist Mike Barnes’ cleans are exceedingly ranged and versatile, and while his screams hadn’t quite evolved to the ferocious final form reached now, they are still pulsating with passion and rage. And the texts within these soundbytes are both heart-breaking and empowering. They’re raw, plain and simple. These men are not afraid to wear their hearts bleeding on their sleeves, and it is because of this that the album is so attractive. Addiction, infidelity, hopelessness, devotion, love, pain, confusion, all of is wrapped into an enticing package. RED isn’t afraid to leave the user in a uncertain, pensive place, either; “Already Over” tackles addiction without a clear answer, and “Hide” does the same for infidelity. This boldness in turn even lends gusto to the atmospheric, slower moments of the work. Through acoustic guitars and pianos, this metal band is still able to captivate its prey. And, even in some of the more by-the-numbers hard rock moments, the creativity and sheer power of the group do more than enough to cover would-be discrepancies.
Feature #2: RED knows how to set a mood and the devil is indeed in the details. Every resource in the inventory was used to craft this update. The off-beat drum hit in the second pre-chorus of “Let Go”, the subtle, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it programming throughout “Already Over” and “Gave It All Away”, the whispered vocals in the verses of “Hide”; all are examples of small, seemingly insignificant elements that when taken in their proper contexts add to a hefty sum. Further, the group utilizing talented song-writing to both entrap and soothe; the verses of “Breathe Into Me” creep their way to the climax like a slow-burning horror film, the bridge of “Lost” optimistically pushes to its raucous conclusion. Note, too, that these are only a few examples. This talent for emotional guidance also cements the dynamics of the album; it doesn’t ever feel like too much of the same, because it plays with many different moods and themes.
Feature #3: The production of Rob Graves cannot go unmentioned. His instincts are key here, and the chemistry between himself and the band members is undeniable. Not only does he aid in pulling off some of the programming tricks, but everything sounds so clean and full. End of Silence
isn’t over-produced; the harshness within isn’t lost to sugar and saccharine. Rather, is crisply and meticulously captured.
Bug #1: End of Silence
, like some updates, isn’t perfect. Aside from the fact that it is admittedly not fully original (at the time, bass guitarist Randy Armstrong professed the group’s love for Linkin Park and the influence that Hybrid Theory
had during the creation of EOS), “Already Over, Pt.2” is a tedious eyesore that closes the disc underwhelmingly. Whereas the prequel simmered with addicting drums, a gut-wrenching bridge, and wall-of-sound guitar chords, the follow-up relies on a repetitive acoustic guitar lick and drawn-out crooning from vocalist Mike Barnes. That said, apparently Essential Records forced the band to include the track because they felt that “Already Over” was too dark and needed a positive conclusion. Maybe that’s true, and maybe it isn’t, but the addition is still unnecessary and defeats the point of the intentionally ambiguous original.
RED is a Christian band, and to some, that may be a turn-off in itself. Still though, the faith of the group isn’t ever forced, and it also isn’t the only way to interpret the lyrics. The topics explored contain their poignancy for Christians and non-Christians alike.
This software won’t please everyone; it relies on pop song structures and a high dose of melody. It is angst-ridden and, while not as bleak as some other albums of the day, does push into some treacherous territory. Some may find it over-dramatic, others, though, may find it quite heartfelt. For those who can move past sonic differences, or for those that already would love what the group has to offer, and for those ready to experience a thorough journey through their psyche, End of Silence is worth the download.