Red (USA)
Rated R


2.5
average

Review

by Mateo Ottie CONTRIBUTOR (32 Reviews)
September 30th, 2023 | 9 replies


Release Date: 09/29/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: R(estrain)ed

Butt rock. Love it or hate it, whether you're afraid to admit it... If you grew up an American white male in the 2000's, you probably had a butt rock phase, myself included. Now, this isn’t a diss at the genre, quite the contrary actually- There was something genuinely enjoyable about much of the hard rock music of the 2000's. From the soaring Howard Benson-produced vocals to the massive PRS guitar riffs, there was a lot of genuinely well-crafted music with plenty of passion behind it that surpassed most of the corniness. Heck, I even still enjoy some of it today on occasion- however, after a certain point, a vast majority of these bands fell off a cliff in quality for whatever reason, and it wasn’t always due to a maturing music taste or oversaturation. One of these bands for me was RED, a band that while never the most original, there was something about the added orchestral elements and Mike Barnes’ haunting vocals that just hit the spot for me, and at one point in time as a kid, I even considered them one of my favorite bands… and then Release The Panic happened. Despite how good the likes of ‘Innocence & Instinct’ was, I, and many RED fans, kinda dropped the band. That was, until their return to form with the theatrical ‘Of Beauty & Rage’... only to fall off again with subsequent releases. All of that to say, I’ve had a pretty turbulent relationship with RED’s discography over the years.

Like many of their peers, RED has joined the ever-growing list of 00s almost-forgotten radio rock staples “returning to their old sound”, in desperate attempts to keep what relevance they have left. And that’s exactly what their new album ‘Rated R’ (a play on the band name and it being their 8th album… gotta love butt rock) is, and just like most, it feels as sanitized and uninspired as possible- lacking the edge that made their earlier work so enjoyable.

Going into ‘Rated R’, I had low expectations- I knew exactly what I was getting from a RED album in 2023, but I still can’t help but feel a little disappointed. Even during their worst moments, there was always at least a spark of passion- and honestly, When there is on this album, it is buried beneath (pun intended) its over-compressed guitars and lackluster (although improved from 2020’s ‘Declaration’) production. Even Barnes’ vocals don’t seem to have the same fire as they once did, although not entirely void of emotion. ‘Rated R’ is the sound of a band running on fumes, mostly running out of fuel with the occasional burst of inspiration.

Let me get this straight: ‘Rated R’ is NOT a bad album, in fact, I’d argue it's pretty OK and better than a lot of what the bands’ contemporaries have been putting out… It's inoffensive, but it's not fun. This is pretty easily summed up from the opener and lead single “Surrogates”, a track that just kinda comes and goes with little impression left. The same can be said for most of the tracks that follow, such as “Your Devil Is a Ghost” and “Minus It All”.

However, there are moments where RED does recapture a spark of what they used to be, and it genuinely does hit- whether it's Anthony Armstrong’s dissonant, pummeling riffage on “The Suffering”, which feels straight off of the aforementioned ‘I&I’, or the explosive and passionate chorus-driven “Cold World’, which serves as my favorite track the band have released in years. Unfortunately these tracks are the exception and not the rule however, smacked right in the middle of generic, cliche-ridden radio anthems such as “Last Forever” and “Our Time Will Come” that honestly just feel like filler, which is not ideal for an album that is only 30 minutes and 10 tracks long. This also brings me to one of my main gripes with the album: it feels like a collection of random singles rather than a coherent album, which is something RED has always excelled at on past releases.

At the end of the day, ‘Rated R’ is a serviceable release, it’ll satisfy their diehard fans and that's all that matters… but there's just not many standout moments and it's easily their most forgettable output to date. It feels bland and restrained, lacking the dramatics of their best albums and the catchiness of their greatest hits, which is a shame when you have a vocalist as talented as Mike Barnes in tow. One can only hope that they are able to reignite those sparks briefly shown on their next release- and as someone who was once such a big fan, I genuinely hope they do- but their engine is starting to sputter and there’s just drops left in the tank.



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user ratings (47)
2.8
good
other reviews of this album
Tyler White STAFF (3.5)
Don't judge a book by its cover...

Clifgard (3)
Still Red, just minus it all....

pizzamachine (2.5)
Rated B for boring....



Comments:Add a Comment 
DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
September 30th 2023


18363 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This is the very definition of butt rock

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
September 30th 2023


18363 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

“American white male in the 2000's”



Why just white male americans? Butt rock is for all



Edit: nice review.

bananatossing
September 30th 2023


2386 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

How come this band doesn't get the memo their most acclaimed releases are the more concept-oriented albums? They need a follow up to OBAR, as OBAR was a follow up to I&I.

Crxmateo
Contributing Reviewer
September 30th 2023


165 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

DeGonzo you’re not wrong at all, I was just playing into the stereotype for this haha

Toondude10
October 1st 2023


15195 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

These guys are lacking the amibition that they once had, Declaration and this were both safe af releases, though I will say this album ironically has the best production out of their disography lmao



couple of decent songs here but yeah, this is very forgettable

bananatossing
October 1st 2023


2386 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

It's just too clean production wise and the songs feel like they written by AI.

pizzamachine
October 1st 2023


27395 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Good review

RogueNine
November 22nd 2023


5600 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

As far as production goes it certainly sounds "of the times". Their best mixing might actually have been UWHF.

Purpl3Spartan
November 22nd 2023


8775 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

UWHF or OBAR probably yeah



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