Staying in the spirit of Red being March’s Artist of the Month, today I’m giving you a review of their second album, Innocence & Instinct, released in February of 2009. Well actually I’m not, instead we’re going a step farther and reviewing the Deluxe Edition of the album, released on the same day.
I had heard Red before. Never took the time to buy the albums though as I never had the money, and so I would just have to wait for one of their songs to pop up on the radio. Well after I finally bought Red’s latest album, Until We Have Faces, I recently decided that I’d go ahead and buy another album of theirs: Innocence and Instinct. Since then that’s essentially all that I have listened too over the past few days. It is truly hard to believe that this was just their second album!
Opening the Deluxe Edition of the album is Canto III; mainly an instrumental track with some lowly-spoken lines of Dante’s Inferno Canto III. It’s a love-hate relationship with me. I thought that this was a creative and great way to open the album, but it is far too quiet, especially the spoken parts. I just wish that the vocals were a bit clearer, and the song a bit louder to flow with the rest of the album better.
Now if you just have the regular version and not the deluxe, it’s going to open up with their song Fight Inside. This song lays the foundation of the album theme; a battle between good and evil, and turning back to God when we need Him most. The song leads into the next song, Death of Me. This I suppose would be the heaviest song of the album, and one of the most memorable. The music video – if you have the deluxe version – is great as well. It depicts a battle between the Armstrong twins (depicted as one person) and Barnes and a double. The ultimate message behind the video is that we’re constantly going through a battle between good and evil, and how we continue to try to run away from evil. Here’s how Randy Armstrong explained it in an interview with NewReleaseTuesday: “The meaning behind Red’s video, “Death of Me”, is explained by Randy in an interview with NewReleaseTuesday.com:
“We used (the) twins (and a double of vocalist Michael Barnes) to symbolize two opposing forces in the video, ‘Death of Me.’ In it, we see the positive side of things being chased by the negative side of things, and in the end there’s a battle. The battle doesn’t seem to resolve itself in the video. That’s because we will face struggles in our lives, even though we do find resolve in certain situations.”
The following three tracks build on this. Mystery of You shows a hurt soul looking for answers. “You always said You’d be here / Where are You now?” These lines can easily be seen as a soul who believes God has abandoned them. The soul then realizes that sometimes we just have to wait until we see God face-to-face to know why things happened the way they did in the lyrics “Somewhere I will find / The pieces torn apart / You’ve hidden deep inside / The mystery of You.” Start Again is a song asking God for a second chance and expressing the emptiness and hurt we feel without Him. Never Be The Same is a song about, well, never being the same. “On the surface it’s a song about a relationship that changes you forever” says Michael Barnes. Digging deeper one can see it’s about the present. Looking back at past battles and how they’ve brought you to where you are now, and to the future, the continuing fight. As former guitarist Jason Rauch explained ““Whether it’s a recovered addict looking back on that which once controlled him or a person simply reflecting on something lost or nearly lost, the song is about those issues that make up the chemistry of who you are. You’ve overcome it and it’s no longer a part of your life, but if you hadn’t gone through it, you wouldn’t be who you are today.”
Both Never Be The Same and Start Again are slower songs compared to the rest of the album. At their spot in the album, they are a refreshing change and they still flow well with the surrounding tracks. Lyrically I believe these are two of the best songs Red has delivered to us on the album.
What one could see as a continuation to the opening song Fight Inside we have the song Confession (What’s Inside My Head). The song exposes the inner anger and confessions in the opening lines “I feel fine / And I can smile / But I feel the anger coming.” Confession is a call to God to take away the sin, the anger, and to help us escape it and it’s reign on our lives. Confession is one of my personal favorites from Innocence & Instinct. It’s a song that all of us can easily relate to, and Red does an amazing job of delivering the song. Michael does a fantastic job on the vocals, and the music is just as amazing.
In Shadows, which was co-written by Breaking Benjamin’s Benjamin Burley, we hear another call out to God. “I need You with me as I enter the shadows.” The song is quite strong, especially the opening, and unlike most songs it grows on to you the more you listen to it. It’s an amazing song that only gets better and better each time you hit play. Shadows is one of the two songs which I have placed as my number one favorites, along with Start Again. Both songs are amazing both musically and lyrically-speaking and there is no way I could ever choose one over the other.
Red does an excellent job covering the song Ordinary World by Duran Duran. Originally this song was never intended to be put on the album; it was meant to only be a song they had performed live every now and then. The label pushed for Red to add it though and so it became part of the album.
The next song could compete with Death of Me for the title of heaviest song off the album, I’ll leave that up to you though. This song is Out From Under. In it Michael cries out “Cut me I bleed, reveal me I need / I finally broke in the pressure / So tell me where were You / When everything fell down like thunder.” This song reminds me of Buried Beneath from their latest album, Until We Have Faces. Although I should probably say Buried Beneath reminds me of Out From Under as it came first.
The standard album concludes with the song Take It All Away. It slowly builds up from a ticking clock-like melody of percussion and piano into a flood of guitars and strings as Barnes desperately calls out asking God to “take it all away.” The song gives an amazing end to the standard album, and is one that will have a lasting effect on those who listen to it.
The first bonus track of the deluxe edition easily contends with the songs Death of Me and Overtake You as the heaviest song of the album, albeit only on the Deluxe Edition. In it Barnes confidently says that despite “dying” right now, he’ll overtake his struggles and beat sin once and for all.
The next bonus track Forever is my favorite bonus track of them all. Although being heavy and aggressive at times, the song still retains a catchy pop-element to it. The song can easily be interpreted as being rescued by God, just when we need Him most. We then turn away again and God is still right there waiting to rescue us again.
The album closes with the song Nothing and Everything, which except for the music is almost the exact same as the opening track Fight Inside. The song is a much lighter version of Fight Inside, being driven by strings and piano. Ironically, in this song Barnes never says “nothing.” In Fight Inside Barnes sings “It’s nothing (It’s everything),” but in this song he simply sings “It’s everything” in the song’s conclusion. The intent of this was to end the album on a positive note of resolve, which I think it does very well.
The deluxe version of the album, as I mentioned, contains the music video for Death of Me. It’s a great music video, and it captures the theme of the song very well. I think that by using the Armstrong twins and Barnes and a double to portray the inner battle between good and evil was a great idea which worked very well for the video.
In addition, the deluxe version contains a documentary on the making of Innocence & Instinct. It goes behind the scenes of Red before one of their concerts, into the bus accident which helped inspire the album, the writing of the album, and more. A great video for any hardcore read fan to add to his or her collection.
Conclusion 4.5 / 5
Innocence & Instinct is an amazing album, and I am quite amazed that this is just the second album that they have released. In my opinion this is one of the best albums of all time, and is definitely worth picking up. Spending a few extra bucks to get the Deluxe Edition is well worth it as well. To conclude, Innocence & Instinct is an amazing album which was an amazing prequel of sorts to Until We Have Faces. Although Red has certainly come a long way since this album, Innocence & Instinct is still amazing and breathtaking especially when you consider this is their second album. If Red continues to advance as they have from End of Silence to Innocence & Instinct and from Innocence & Instinct to Until We Have Faces there is not a doubt in the mind that they will only continue to grow spiritually, lyrically and musically, as well as in popularity in the music market. Red is simply proof that rock is not dead, and that you don’t have to turn around and away from God to make music that people will love and enjoy.
Buy Red’s Innocence & Instinct