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Will Red Rock My Face Off?

[img_assist|nid=2830|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=180|height=180]Often when a seasoned edgy rock band puts out new material, I ponder at what point the music will mellow.  After all, it seems to be a pattern that I like a band’s earlier music, but stay away from older albums when the music reaches a bit calmer feel.  So when I received a copy of Red’s third album, Until We Have Faces, set to release on February 1st, I cringed at the thought of what the music would sound like.

Had I actually read the following from the press material beforehand, I would have been perhaps a bit more prepared for what I was about to hear.  “A record that leaps out of the speakers with a ferocity and complexity.”  Instead, I immediately played the CD.  With a bit of uncertainty and caution, I listened in my car.  The intro of the first song, “Feed The Machine” left me eagerly wanting more.  “Confirmed.  This album includes ROCK.  Good!”  (This song has also been known to cause my car accelerator to shake beneath my feet, whilst simultaneously bringing up my adrenaline levels, resulting in speeding…)

“Faceless” came next.  Soon I was singing along, “I'm not I'm not myself/Feel like I'm someone else/Rotten and faceless/So hollow hollow inside.”  I’d heard this first single on RadioU.  The album floats between the harder stuff and ballads, and ends with the more melodic piano-driven “Hymn For The Missing.”

The theme of Until We Have Faces is a search for true identity, and is apparently inspired by a number of sources, including author C.S. Lewis' book of similar title, Till We Have Faces.  There is a definite connection between the songs that is noticeable when one focuses on the lyrics.

Lead vocalist Michael Barnes declares the album, “a combination of our first two records, but on steroids."  During the last month, I played parts of the album for various friends who also fans.  The general consensus was a proverbial Facebook “Like.”  Most declared that the album was more reminiscent of Red’s 2006 debut, End of Silence.

But as I continued to place the disc in my car player over the last few weeks, I thought that while Red’s music still contains an edge, the music on the album gives me the impression of an attempt to cater to the masses.  “Not Alone” fills the slot for Adult Contemporary, and is the closest song in the worship category.  Oh… right.  All albums need one of those, right?  (Insert sarcastic tone.)

In the end, I would, as with my friends, also declare an overall “Like” on the album.  But to be honest, I am looking forward to a less polished, less produced, perhaps less industry-driven version of the songs in a live setting.  I am planning to experience Red on the closest stop of the Winter Jam 2011 Tour Spectacular (10 artists for $10), also including Newsboys, David Crowder Band, Kutless, Francesca Battistelli, KJ-52, Sidewalk Prophets, new artist Chris August, Chris Sligh, speaker Tony Nolan, and of course, the hosts, Newsong.