Red came onto the scene in 2006 with their debut record, End of Silence. Immediately they were likened to the sound of Linkin Park, save for their tendency to stay away from the rap-rock hybrid sound. The band achieved monumental success with plenty of hits from that record, and were revered for their use of violins mixed in with a hard-hitting rock sound. Through excessive touring and a re-release of their debut, the band saw their fan base grow largely, and now in 2009, the band has released their highly-anticipated second album, Innocence & Instinct. Lyrically, the album features songs of dark places and the light that can be found in Christ, and never leaves the listener lost in the darkness it ventures into.
Aiming to be a concept record of the fight inside of each Christian, the record significantly tones down the hard rock edge that made their debut so successful. Much of the record is almost a rehashing of what the first record was: hard rock guitars mixed with epic violin sounds, and simplistic lyrics that a first time listener can pick up easily. This process is repeated, almost to a T on songs like the first single, “Death of Me”. The sophomore record sees the band take what they were known for, for the past three years, and reduce it to a mainstream CCM feel. Sadly, this seems to be the trend for groups that garner a large amount of success as soon as they debut. Where the band would have normally screamed or turned the guitars up louder, the lead vocalist holds back his talent and the music is turned down.
The album isn’t a total loss, of course. The songs have the CCM rock sound, but some tracks tend to be harder than the usual songs we’ve come to be used to on the radio. More tracks, such as “Never Be The Same” incorporate acoustic guitar which wasn’t heard on their debut except for on some of the piano based songs. It adds a more stripped down feel of Red that many fans will embrace and find a love for, certainly. One other thing that makes this album a bit more worth it is the bonus tracks on the iTunes version. If you’re one of those people that still goes out and buys the physical CD, you’re in luck, as these extra tracks are available online for $.99 downloads. Bonus track “Overtake You” is another hard track that is more like something you’d hear from their debut, yet has some elements that show improvement. I wish there had been more tracks like “Overtake You” on the whole of the album, as it would have made the record better as a whole.
Overall, Innocence & Instinct will impress and satisfy fans who have been waiting three years for new material from the Dove Award winners. The record features enough CCM material that the radio stations will be spinning this one more than their debut, and we’ll have to wait and see if the band turns up the volume again on their next release.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars