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JFH Music Review

RED, Of Beauty and Rage

Of Beauty and Rage

Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Rock
Album length: 15 tracks: 60 minutes, 1 second
Street Date: February 24, 2015

RED is a somewhat polarizing band in the Christian community of hard rock listeners. Many love the rather generic overall sound that has them banging their heads, but others have grown tired of the monotony. Last time out, the rockers released a heavily electronic album that drew the ire of many fans. Now, with Of Beauty and Rage, a concept album, the veteran outfit has returned to a sound more reminiscent of the Innocence & Instinct era. Most of the band's faithful are clamoring to hear the finished product as a whole, while others will remain skeptical until their first listen at least.

The album starts off with the intro track, "Descent." Unfortunately, the band's attempt to start the album in a different way than the past winds up a bit tedious. An intro track that is a minute and a half long gives way to an opening number that has a forty-five second intro of its own. One looking to delve right in will have to remain patient. Overall, "Imposter" is a solid start. Chunky guitar riffs, angry snarls, and full on screams highlight the song. While "Imposter" checks all the boxes for things you want in a hard rock song, the overabundance of strings is evident early. "Shadow and Soul" follows up the official opener as another enjoyable song. The track features more chunky guitars and screams, but the almost haunting way Michael Barnes sings the chorus really grabs your attention most. After skipping forward a few spots you will find the obligatory soft piano ballad. While "Of These Chains" is a pretty song, and is a notch above many of the group's other ballads, it honestly just feels like these kinds of songs are thrown in to appease certain fans or fit into a particular formula.

The next song that stands out above the rest, "What Keeps You Alive," is probably the heaviest song on the album. A nice sounding riff playing throughout, coupled with a catchy bridge, should make this one a favorite for hard rock fanatics. However, "Gravity Lies" feels a bit odd. What starts off as a very typical RED song just dies after two and half minutes without warning. Softly picked acoustic guitar with strings play for nearly a full minute before going back full-throttle just as abruptly as it hit the brakes. It's a neat concept, but ends up making the song somewhat disjointed. Following is the rock anthem "Take Me Over." While it's not a particularly bad song, it, like "Of These Chains," seems to just be thrown in to fit "the formula." With things winding down, the guys get another solid one out of "The Ever." "Part That's Holding On" is the last track with lyrics, but out of all of the songs present, it feels the most familiar -- as in "I've heard this one on every RED album." From here, the album goes to the closer, "Ascent." Unfortunately, the album ends with a rather lackluster tune, followed by a nearly four-minute string instrumental that doesn't offer up much interesting.

Let's be honest. There really is a lot to like about Of Beauty and Rage. If there is some sort of master equation to making the "perfect" hard rock record, then RED likely holds the patent on the formula to get the right answer. I realize that word (formula) was used a few times within this review, but as a whole, the record feels quite formulaic. A first overview listen reveals a solid and enjoyable rock album. Subsequent listens, though, reveal a lot of chinks in the armor. The biggest factor is the nearly unbearable amount of strings that play throughout each and every song present. It's unfortunate that strings turned from a highlight in hard rock songs to the main feature. At times, they even take a lot of edge out of heavy riff driven sections. On the upside, some of the hardest music RED have written to date is present on this album. Also, Michael Barnes' screams are more on point, and more fully featured, than ever before. Sonically, Of Beauty and Rage could be the band's finest work, but it seems the band needs to get away from the "go to" tracks to create some truly creative art. Long time RED listeners will likely fall in love with this one, but it's doubtful to sway anyone who has disregarded them in the past. It's a mixed bag of good music and frustration, but from the low start of "Descent" to the high of "Ascent," the story and concept here is worth at least one listen.

- Review date: 2/22/15, written by Michael Weaver of

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JFH Staff's Second Opinion

Ever since Red's End Of Silence release back in 2006, they been one of the most consistent bands around, while also being not the most creative. Red does a hard rock blend with melody and ballads very well and that's exactly what Of Beauty And Rage delivers. Fans of what Red has done in the past will be pleased, but the band probably won't gain any new fans with this release.

"Impostor" starts this album off with a blasting sound coupled with orchestra strings, and it's exactly what one would expect from Mike Barnes and company. "Shadow And Soul," "Darkest Part," and "Gravity Lies" are all staple Red tracks and each one is superb. As always, there are some ballads tossed in for good measure, with "Of These Chains" and "Parts That's Holding On" giving a nice reprieve from the heaviness. - Review date: 2/1/15, Kevin Hoskins



JFH Staff's Additional 2 Cents

Though it doesn't cover any new ground, Of Beauty and Rage is the amalgamation of everything Red has done well in the past four albums--especially drawing from End of Silence and Innocence & Instinct. "Darkest Part" and "Gravity Lies" are two of seven heavier songs which showcase the alternative rock band at their very finest with chilling strings, dramatic musical arrangements, and emotional vocals. As expected, there are a few softer tunes, such as "Take Me Over" and "Part That's Holding On," but they are more inspired than their lackluster radio-friendly predecessors. Throw in one beautiful ballad ("Of These Chains") and three orchestrated instrumentals (although "Ascent" is unnecessarily long) and you've got an engaging one-hour journey from the depths of pain to the heights of redemption. - 1/24/15, Christopher Smith of

Red sure has taken a spot as one of the top Christian rock bands right now. And why not? They've mastered the generic rock sound that most Christian rock fans love, so it only makes sense that they would thrive in that scene. With a lot of hype surrounding their first crowd-funded album, Of Beauty and Rage, it's slightly disappointing to hear the album sound like they've made little to no effort to spawn growth in their music. The same, dry guitar riffs and rhythms associated with Red are here in full force, as are the Linkin Park-esque electronic elements and Skillet, Comatose era-style string sections. I will say, however, that I appreciate some of the harder sections, such as the short opening riff of "What You Keep Alive," as well as the rather decent screams from Mike Barnes. But for the most part, there's nothing of interest here. It's certainly not the worst rock album I've heard, but I have a hard time finding anything that would cause me to return to it in the future. - 2/16/15, Scott Fryberger of

I truly do tip my hat to RED for their attempt to branch out their sound on Release the Panic, but the fact is, it was pretty much a train wreck in my eyes. In that light, it is a lot easier to appreciate RED making the type of music they have proven themselves to be so adept at making on Of Beauty And Rage, in spite of it sounding much like their first three albums (Innocence & Instinct in particular). The piano and strings are still there (perhaps more so than ever), along with their familiar guitar riffs ("Darkest Part" or "Gravity Lies" anyone?), and the forelorn-but-palatable lyrics. That said, songs like "Imposter," " Shadow and Soul" and "Fight to Forget" have a harder edge than what we're used to from RED (in fact, as does the album as a whole; I don't recall Mike Barnes screaming as much on any album as he does on Of Beauty...). Add that to the generous length (over an hour), the companion graphic novel, and the knowledge that this is Red's first attempt at both concept album and crowd-funding, and you can't help but give Barnes & Co. credit. They are far from the most original band ever, either musically or lyrically, but they are very good at what they do, and Of Beauty And Rage may be RED's best yet. - 2/19/15, Mark Rice of

True artistic ambition is to be commended any day, and RED's Of Beauty and Rage is nothing if not ambitious. With a heavy bent towards cinematic orchestration (with strings and orchestras galore) and instrumental passages segueing between sections of the album, RED has crafted an excellent example of hard-rock artistry. At fifteen songs and more than an hour of music, a few of the harder tracks meld together a bit in the listening, but thankfully there are enough interesting moments to move the story (best interpreted with the graphic novel that the band is releasing as a companion to the album) along. Of Beauty and Rage is worth the time it takes to unpack the story, and RED is to be commended for reaching for the brass ring on this one. - 2/15/15, Alex Caldwell of

Red's fifth studio album returns the rockers to a familiar sound prior to Release the Panic. While many fans will doubtlessly rejoice at this, the fact still remains that Red has steadily grown stagnant. Although the band attempts to "change it up" with a few of the tracks, the result is usually more or less disastrous. ("Gravity Lies" is the exception to this.) Amidst a plethora of odd notes and key changes, the mixing job seems a little off, as well the volume of the vocal tracks, making for a somewhat jarring experience. While much of the album falls short, there are a handful of masterpieces scattered throughout. "Darkest Part," "Yours Again," the radio-friendly "Take Me Over," and the latter segment of "Shadow and Soul" come to mind. However, none are as pronounced as "The Ever," which features a vocal breakdown that is fantastic, albeit too short. Overall, Of Beauty and Rage is a conflicted album that both scores and grossly misses at the same time. Hopefully future projects will remedy this by playing off of the album's strengths. - 2/22/15, David Craft of

After churning out three albums worth of crushing alt-metal/post-grunge, the men of Red all but abandoned their trademark orchestral-based hard rock for a (slightly) more subdued, electronic-leaning approach on 2013's Release the Panic. The experiment was met with near-universal cries of "Foul!" from die-hard fans; a reception which almost certainly influenced the intrepid group's wholehearted return to the string-heavy aesthetic of the pre-Panic projects. But, while the new record certainly sounds a whole lot like the debut and sophomore efforts on the surface, its relative dearth of memorable hooks and melodies ultimately renders it a pale, and less engaging, cousin to those works (and arguably the Panic album as well) - making Of Beauty and Rage more a return to outward form than actual substance. - 2/25/15, Bert Gangl of



. Record Label: Essential Records
. Album length: 15 tracks: 60 minutes, 1 second
. Street Date: February 24, 2015
. Buy It:

  1. Descent (1:27)
  2. Impostor (4:17)
  3. Shadow and Soul (5:41)
  4. Darkest Part (4:01)
  5. Fight To Forget (3:27)
  6. Of These Chains (3:54)
  7. Falling Sky (5:25)
  8. The Forest (0:59)
  9. Yours Again (4:48)
  10. What You Keep Alive (5:20)
  11. Gravity Lies (4:33)
  12. Take Me Over (3:49)
  13. The Ever (4:12)
  14. Part That's Holding On (4:46)
  15. Ascent (3:55)
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