Red (USA)
Declaration


4.0
excellent

Review

by tyman128 USER (42 Reviews)
April 2nd, 2020 | 104 replies


Release Date: 04/03/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Independence is key.

After an entire career confined to their previous label, Declaration displays RED as a band being true to themselves, no longer attached to the influence of others. With the last handful of records, the band’s fan base has been greatly divided, criticizing the poppier elements of Release the Panic and Gone while praising the return to form characterized by Of Beauty and Rage. Responding to such fan opinion, the band’s newest release takes all of the elements of their past successes and adds a newer, revitalized sound to the mix.

In comparison to the rest of their discography, Declaration pushes deeper into the darker, heavier elements of their sound as displayed on Innocence and Instinct. Utilizing lower tuned guitars, eerie orchestral elements, and greater emphasis on screamed vocals, RED experiments with a more abrasive and aggressive atmosphere previously hinted at only by a handful of songs off of previous records. With only the occasional softer breaks in songs and the comparatively calmer “The War We Made,” Declaration contains no shortage of sheer energy and intensity. Although focusing on the much heavier aspects of their sound, the record also holds many of the band’s past staples, producing massive, climatic choruses and applying the versatility of orchestration to further accentuate the aura of the album. This amalgamation of the ferocious nature of RED and their melodic features creates a strangely cohesive experience that fails to falter throughout the record.

From the first track, Anthony Armstrong makes his presence clear, initiating the album with a heavily downtuned riff that erupts into a strong chorus progression in “All for You.” Throughout the entire album, this pattern of heavy riffing and massive power chord progressions remains prevalent through every song, each varying to different levels of intensity. With some of the heaviest riffs in the band’s career, the Armstrong twins show off their ability to formulate riffs and grooves of sheer intensity. Tracks like “Infidel” and “Cauterize” display the six-strings immense magnitude in creating a solid groove that maintains a heavy atmosphere and a catchy phrasing while the pure aggression contained within “Float” further exemplifies the emphasis of heaviness embodied within the guitars. On the other hand, the more reserved progressions found on “Sever” and “The War We Made” highlight the twins’ ability to take a step back and focus on the more melodic aspects of their craft. Complementing the Armstrongs, Dan Johnson’s drumming provides the backbone for the progression of the album, alternating between heavy, in-your-face beats and tighter grooves. From the high impact aggression confounded within “Float” and “Infidel” to the more compact, consistent grooves of “The War We Made” and “Only Fight,” his versatility of patterns exudes throughout Declaration.

Overlaying such aggressive instrumentation lies Michael Barnes’ impressive vocal performance. As expected, his expansive range is highlighted throughout the duration of the record, amplifying the climatic choruses of tracks like “The Evening Hate” and “From the Ashes.” However, although occasionally used in the past, Barnes’ emphasis on screaming is unlike any other previous album from RED. With tracks like “Only Fight” and “Float,” his powerful screams take the forefront, creating some of the band’s heaviest, aggressive moments of their entire career. Moreover, Barnes’ tackles some interesting vocal melodies, taking on new approaches to his performance emphasized in the pre-chorus of “Cauterize.” This combination of the ferocious harsh vocals and melodic cleans forges a contrast that is both intense and beautiful simultaneously, as exemplified through the chorus of “The Victim.”

Similar to their past records, RED focuses on utilizing orchestral elements to underscore the already impressive instrumentation. Although generally used in a harmonious manner to enforce an “epic” atmosphere to the choruses of tracks such as “From the Ashes” and “The War We Made,” the orchestration is also used to create a haunting ambience to the darker moments of Declaration in the progressions of “Only Fight” and the verses of “Cauterize.” Furthermore, the band utilizes a fair amount of experimentation that adds a uniqueness to many of the tracks compared to previous efforts, especially “Only Fight.” The odd lack of structure and almost unsettling guitar and vocal layering creates an experience not quite developed in RED’s musical catalog before.

Despite such grand experimentation and impressive musicianship from the band, the album does suffer from faltering production and weaknesses in the mixing. Although a step up from the original releases of “The Evening Hate” and “From the Ashes,” the record fails to fully address the issue of production and falls short of the same value embodied in their previous records, holding Declaration back slightly. However, the album as a whole greatly succeeds in providing fans with the desired heaviness and return to form they have been awaiting. Perhaps the loss of a contract with a label was a gain in motivation for the band to pursue their identity without restrictions. Maybe this new independent form of RED is the beginning of a new era for the band’s future, unhindered by the influence of a label.



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user ratings (93)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
tyman128
April 2nd 2020


1947 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Those who pre-ordered got their copies early! Official release is tomorrow.



I am quite surprised by how much I loved this album! My expectations were fairly low after Gone, but they really pulled off this heavier sound well! My favorites are probably, Cauterize, Infidel, and Only Fight (this is probably my favorite off the whole album for sure)

DreamAgain
April 2nd 2020


1314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album is fantastic. On par with Of Beauty/I&I. Production/mixing is shoddy at times. Really the only complaint. Hardest album they've made to date though for sure.

tyman128
April 2nd 2020


1947 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Definitely agree, the mixing/production is the main thing holding this back for me, but the heavier aspects of this album is really getting to me for sure! lovin this new sound from them and hope to hear more heavy stuff from them in the future

Lucman
April 2nd 2020


4230 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Awesome review, Ty! Haven't been able to put this down. It feels so great to be excited for a rock album again. The production is really the only thing this has going against and even then, it just lacks some polish. The instrumentation could also stand to be out in the mix a little more, but as if to compensate for that we have those screams, so I won't hold those criticisms against it. And it's their first independent release, they may well knock it out of the park with album 2 or 3.

Durrzo
April 2nd 2020


2127 Comments


Mix makes me cry.

tyman128
April 2nd 2020


1947 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks Luc! definitely think we can expect some awesome stuff from them in the near future for sure!

Durrzo, don’t cry please :[

Durrzo
April 2nd 2020


2127 Comments


The guitar is just so ugly sounding. Good album though. Probably my 2nd favorite from them. Beauty and Rage holds the top spot for me.

SteakByrnes
April 2nd 2020


18819 Comments


"the Armstrong twins show off their ability to formulate riffs and grooves of sheet intensity"

I assume you mean sheer right ;]

Dope review man, has me interested to check a track or two off this

tyman128
April 2nd 2020


1947 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

haha, thanks for the catch man, I’ll fix that shortly

definitely check out a few of the tracks at least, some heavy stuff here

Toondude10
April 2nd 2020


14221 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

production makes this sounds like something from 2001, it's reeeeeally bad



album itself is alright otherwise, definitely better than their past couple albums

William21
April 2nd 2020


534 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haven't heard the whole thing yet, but I'm definitely hoping the heaviness makes up for the terrible mixing

DreamAgain
April 3rd 2020


1314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Past couple? As in of beauty? Idk about that. Way better than Gone though.

JazzyJoosh
April 3rd 2020


2 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah. This album rules.



Cauterize and float are top 5 on their discography

BigP
April 3rd 2020


55 Comments


The mix is SO bad. Everything except the vocals sound SO muddled. What the fuck?

BigP
April 3rd 2020


55 Comments


The drums sound exceptionally bad... there's absolutely ZERO depth there with the mixing.

BigP
April 3rd 2020


55 Comments


Shit, it's too bad because this would have been their best album if the mixing was on par with literally everything else they've put out :/

tyman128
April 3rd 2020


1947 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yea, if they really fixed up the production and mix, this would easily be one of their best, if not their best period. Hoping this is a good “trial” album for them to work on those issues for future records, one can only hope

Lucman
April 3rd 2020


4230 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Alright, dang is "Only Fight" awesome. I've only just now caught those industrial touches in the verses. Easily one of the best songs they've ever written.

Willie
Moderator
April 3rd 2020


18725 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Looking forward to checking this out later today.

Beardog
April 3rd 2020


3513 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

agreed Durrzo... It's cool and all letting your prior drumming mix a record, but they should've just told him that it sucked or something. Ugh, makes me sad. I feel like some simple EQ tricks could fix a whole lot. Also, why the fuck is this not on Google Play yet haha



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