Red may be classified as a Christian band, but their positive message of hope for mankind certainly doesn’t hold back their heavy brand of alternative metal and hard rock. And despite the connotations of being tagged as “metal,” Red displays a fairly impressive amount of musicianship by employing an abundance of string instruments in their songs, transforming would-be one-dimensional rock songs into experimental and dramatic works of art worthy of conveying the band’s urgent and passionate message. While Anthony Armstrong and Jasen Rauch provide a base layer of heavy electric guitar riffs, lead singer Michael Barnes adjusts his voice to appropriately match the tempo and flow of each song, ranging from scratchy and harsh vocals of desperation to harmonic wails of emotion. Although Barnes’ croaky vocals can be a little cumbersome on some of the straight-forward heavy rockers, End Of Silence does a pretty good job of mixing up the tempo, especially because of the effective strings. In the end, this debut isn’t the most impressive album to ever grace the Christian rock charts, but it is a promising start and a testament to this band’s talent as composers.
The amped up guitar riffs, Hayden Lamb’s heart-pounding drumming and an epic background of violins, violas and cellos make “Breathe Into Me” the best example of what Red is capable of. The desperate theme of falling and realizing in that desperation that you need God is accentuated by the dramatic string ensemble as well as Barnes’ magnificent vocals, which fluctuate between raspy croaks and pitch-perfect bellows of “Breathe your life into me / I can feel you / I’m falling, falling faster.” There are a lot of heavy and gallant songs on End Of Silence, but none are as captivating as this first single.
Following another dynamic opening track, “Already Over” switches up the pace for the first time, delivering a slower song with just as much impact. The use of strings is just as affecting as before, but as Randy Armstrong’s piano (first seen on the album’s intro) makes a reappearance, it gives an already tense song its sense of tragic remorse. The chorus picks up the tempo as Barnes and his crew rock out, giving this hard rock ballad more firepower to make a lasting impression.
“Pieces” is more of a traditional ballad than the heavier “Already Over.” This heartfelt and instrumental-dependent ballad simply consists of emotive piano, transcendent strings, acoustic guitar and Barnes’ smoothest vocal performance of the album. Although fans of Red probably won’t connect as much with this slower track, it’s songs like this that show the most promise and potential for this band as they continue to grow as composers and songwriters, as Barnes delivers the affecting words on overcoming sin, “Then I see your face, I know I’m finally yours / I find everything that I lost before / You call my name, I come to you in pieces so you can make me whole.”
Despite the post-hardcore screams and a few overbearing hard rock songs, End Of Silence ends up being more meaningful than anything Linkin Park’s done in years, regardless of taking the Christian themes into account. The use of strings transforms one-dimensional alternative metal songs into arresting masterpieces packed with feeling and sincerity not often seen in this genre. Barnes vocals aren’t always steady, but his fluctuation between frustration and compassion is remarkable when he really gets into it. Fans of Thousand Foot Krutch, Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, Skillet, Pillar, Evans Blue, Disciple and Demon Hunter should appreciate the Christian themes and hard rock intensity of Red. Because although End Of Silence has its definite flaws, it’s a very solid start to a promising future for the band.
Final Score: 7.1/10
Rank: 3rd (three total albums)
- Intro (End Of Silence)
- Breathe Into Me
- Let Go
- Already Over
- Break Me Down
- Wasting Time
- Gave It All Away
- Already Over, Pt. 2