There is a stir building in the rock music industry. As we face a world of isolation and darkness, and breaking through the human experience, new hard rock music releases help create a cathartic environment to release and express how we feel in order to heal and find hope.
After fifteen years of evolving music, RED released their seventh studio album this Friday. Declaration is the band’s debut album as an independent label, filled with unbridled heavy-hitters. Known for their unique pairing of strings with electric guitars, heavy bass, and drums, and nominated for a Grammy Award, RED has been consistently releasing hits in the rock music world.
The band unveiled Declaration a whole week early, seeing that today’s times demand it. And seemingly in celebration of this release, the band went live on YouTube to perform acoustics of their music, old and new. Starting with their biggest hit yet, “Breathe Into Me,” the performance progressed through the transition and growth of the band, stripped to the bare acoustics, and rawer than ever.
We have all been going crazy in a time trapped within the walls of our homes; a new album was just the breath of fresh air we needed. And fans are taking notice to the band’s shift in mood. Within a day of the release, Declaration made number one on the iTunes rock albums chart. People have been hungering for an album like this from RED; without boundaries, emotional, and inspiring hope through darkness.
They were unafraid to dig their hands deep in the thick of it and get their hands dirty; breaking free from boundaries and hard rock standards. They didn’t hold back on their creative flow, yet didn’t lose sight of their overall mission as a band.
The album starts off strong with “All For You,” with simple, but heavy drums and guitar. And it makes quite a strong statement on claiming authority against darkness. “I’m not gonna let you drag me back inside of you,” Mike, the vocalist, sings in the first verse. The chorus visualizes the internal battle. “Why was I scared of you? Why did I let you control my life? Why couldn’t I see this before, that I did it all for you!” When darkness is welcomed in, it impacts how you live. In discovering these patterns, you can declare your authority over it and overcome it.
The message continues to develop throughout the album. “Cauterize” is another really powerful song; paired with contrasting raw vocals, strings, and electric guitar to create a beautifully written melody about removing toxicity to find peace and freedom. The dictionary definition of cauterize helps define the song even further: “to burn the skin or flesh of (a wound) with a heated instrument or caustic substance, typically to stop bleeding or prevent the wound from becoming infected.” RED leaves the subject of what’s causing the darkness and pain subjective, which makes the album all the easier to relate to. When we leave wounds open or don’t let them heal properly, they often become infected; that can mean emotional wounds, too. In order to get the infection cured, sometimes we need to reopen the wound, dig out the infection, and stop the bleeding. Then it will heal.
The bridge is stripped to strings and vocals, and it feels like the expression of how it feels to let yourself be vulnerable, so beaten and broken down, and in letting it out. “A thousand scars betray me now, what’s another one. At least they make me feel like I’m not the only one.” In our darkest moments, we feel like we are alone. RED uses this bridge to express that we are in fact not alone. We can make the choice to share our scars, our past stories of being broken, to help others who are bleeding, and in that, we are coming together and helping others break free from the darkness.
One of the singles released prior to the album, “The War We Made,” goes further into this concept. In coming together, we can overcome the war between our darkness, and find hope and peace. RED inspires finding a community with like-minded individuals to find a breakthrough.
Over the last fifteen years, RED processes through their own inner turmoil through creating music and content with heavy and intentional symbolism. “The world is a battlefield,” is a concept present in Declaration, especially in their song “The Evening Hate.” We are in this battlefield called life. The human experience is a war between light and darkness.
The overall album’s concept stays consistent as it processes through how to live through the human experience, and what inspires me the most about their music is how it plays against typically contradicting instrumental elements to create a cohesive message on the human experience. In the song, “The Victim,” you can hear the modern, electronic trap elements pair with classical strings, heavy electric guitar, and varying vocals.
Admittedly, when a favorite band of mine implements new sounds, I grow a little nervous. However, this song displays the level of skill in producing the team shares, making sounds that seemingly contradict one another play cohesively and create beautiful works of art. And RED has become most known for this. Not many hard rock bands know how to orchestrate so many instruments together to create quality soundtrack level music. More than ever in Declaration, RED does this.
The band rightfully finishes off the album with “From the Ashes,” a song of encouragement that inspires hope. “We will rise from the ashes stronger than ever before.
Declaration is a consistent theme throughout the entire album. The band is consistently making a statement about who they are as a band, as if reintroducing themselves into the world. In reintroducing themselves, they presently represent the theme in finding true freedom; discovering, then declaring who you are, to unite in a community and overcome darkness that is so present and prevalent in our lives as humans. Even though the world is a battlefield, we can overcome the darkness we all experience in humanity, let it shape us, then grow from it.
Q&A with Anthony Armstrong, the guitarist and a producer/writer of RED:
· How do you feel about being your own independent label?
The freedom is amazing. RED is solely our baby now. We love that our fans have supported the decision by helping us get the label started. We’ve already seen what being on our own will do for our music alone.
· How do you feel like your music has changed over the last fifteen years, from The End of Silence, to Declaration?
I wouldn’t say the music has changed. I’d say we as a band have changed. We are just different people than we were in 2006. With each year that passes we are basically changing the lens through which we see the world. That has had a profound effect on our creative process.
· Previous albums have talked about overcoming darkness and spiritual warfare. How is Declaration similar or different from that?
RED has always tried to examine the human experience. We all live in the light and tango with the darkness. There’s a lot to be learned from the dark. It’s been the foundation of our creative endeavors from the beginning.
· What is your inspiration for the styles, imagery, symbols you chose in your music videos, and how do you feel like your music compliments that style? You are very intentional with symbolism and the words you choose in your music.
We see that our experiences as humans are much like that of a war. We are constantly fighting, either physically, mentally or spiritually. The imagery of war is palpable. Everyone understands what it is and why it happens. Life isn’t easy. It’s a constant fight. Which makes the imagery and creative ground fertile.
· How do you want to spread the message to fans about overcoming fear and chaos in dark times?
By faith alone. Believing in something. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about what we as a band believe. It could be at the most basic level. Believing in yourself. That you can overcome and rise from the ashes.
Stream Declaration on Spotify here.
For more information on RED be sure to check out: