Fan speculation and anticipation has run hot for the past few years, centered around wondering when they’d have a new album from RED– and what that album might sound like. On April 3, their questions are answered by a blistering manifesto of identity with the scorching record Declaration.
The title is marked by a boldness that is further proved by the musical and lyrical posture. For RED, this is a declaration of who they are, a statement born out of reforging their band’s structure in the independent path. Declaration is RED’s first full album since shifting their process to be direct band-to-fans. As has also been true of the singles that came before it, this album will be largely viewed as an expectation definer, establishing what listeners can expect moving into this new RED era.
Oftentimes, the process of staking a claim to our own souls comes through learning what we’re not. Several of the songs deal with that struggle, including gritty, defiant album opener “All For You.” “Why was I scared of you? Why did I let you control my life?” frontman Michael Barnes asks through the chorus. That act of pushing back against any opposition that would lie about who we are propels this project forward into tracks like “Cauterize,” a visceral, grungy cut balanced by eerie piano. “Float” offers a similar dichotomy with crunchy guitars from Anthony Armstrong, screamed verses, and a striking transition to a more orchestral sonic palette in the chorus.
Rock holds a natural propensity for aggression, and with these songs RED masterfully channels that mood into songs that capture a soul fighting for freedom. “Only Fight” is built up with steady drum beats from Dan Johnson before raging into a chorus that captures the internal turmoil of trying to fight free from our worst dysfunctions and coping mechanisms. It feels like a sense of friction is built into even the musical arrangement on this track, staggering towards the desperate bridge: “why do I do what I do?”
“The Victim” pushes back against the mindset of staying trapped in a victim mentality, a self-created and self-perpetuating prison. Unsettling, almost mocking chimes intro the track, contrasting sharply with the wall of guitars that crashes in soon after. “Infidel” feels like it could be an update on the RED classic “Wasting Time” in the way it charges the enemies of our souls head on.
The album also includes previously released tracks like “The Evening Hate,” with its unsettling bass intro from Randy Armstrong and its seering chorus sung straight from the internal battlefield. “Sever” stands out as one of the strongest cuts on the album, with a string arrangement that perfectly serves the tone of the track as it declares “Watching your slow demise / With the turning of this knife / I’ll sever.” “From The Ashes” closes the collection on a note of triumph, a chorus rising out of the wreckage of battles fought and won.
In many ways, Declaration feels more like the band’s debut End of Silence than anything else they’ve ever produced (likely due in no small part to the creative synergy the band has with producer and writer Rob Graves). Those same sharp contrasts between musical ferocity and emotional fragility are matured here, presented in 10 tracks that somehow feel more distinctly stamped with the RED fingerprint than anything ever has before. No matter where you’ve connected with RED along the 14 year journey of their discography, this project is likely to have something for you. And if you checked out at any point? This is the time to tune back in. RED’s Declaration is one that seals their identity as a powerful force, a call to fight for freedom through the dark.