CD Review: Red: Innocence and Instinct

61J+lC1QLAL._SL500_AA240_Red’s first release, End of Silence, sold over a quarter of a million copies and resulted in several awards and nominations, including a Grammy nomination for “Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album” and a Dove award for the single “Breathe Into Me.” Their recent partnership with Epic records has introduced them to a huge new audience, especially after touring with the likes of Papa Roach, Staind, Puddle of Mudd, and Seether. The new album has continued this success. Innocence and Instinct entered the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart at #15, while the single “Fight Inside” debuted at #1 on the R&R Christian Rock chart — the first time in history that has happened.

Innocence and Instinct is about the conflict that rages within all mankind; the conflict between what you want to do and what you have to do; between what is right and what is expedient. Between good and bad, when it comes right down to it. The first song on the CD, “Fight Inside,” does a good job of setting the stage for what the rest of the album will be about. “Enemy/ Familiar friend/ My beginning and my end/ Knowing truth/ Whispering lies/ And it hurts again”

“Death Of Me” continues this theme, showing that the internal conflict is all-consuming. The video for this song is especially good (and included on the DVD if you get the expanded edition), showing “good” and “evil” dopplegangers of band members fighting for control.

“Mystery of You” hints at a solution to the conflict. “It’s obvious you understand/ The blood that’s on my hands (Where are you now?)/ I’m paralyzed, I can’t escape/ Until I see your face/ Don’t leave me all alone /You’re all I know.” There is someone who has the key, the solution to the conflict. It’s tied closely to the very next song, “Start Again” — both are outstanding power ballads with similar themes of the potential of redemption and a solution to the inner conflict that affects us all. “All this time/ I can make it right/ With one more try/ Can we start again?/ In my eyes/ You can see it now/ Can we start again, can we start again?”

Musically, the album is very similar to End Of Silence; powerful hard rock over a bed of strings that just seems right, somehow. The included DVD has a feature on the making of the CD that shows the strings arranger working with the band to get just the sound they’re all after, and it’s this kind of attention to detail that gives Red an interesting sound that sets it apart from other hard rock/metal bands. There is only really one song that seems to not fit in, and it’s not their cover of Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World.” “Never The Same” seems to be put in the album just to get some airplay on CCM stations like KLOVE, and it just doesn’t work for me in the larger picture of the album.

The standard CD is only ten tracks long; the deluxe edition includes four bonus tracks. “Intro (Canto III)” is mainly an instrumental introduction to the album, and is a nod to the influence that Dante’s Divine Comedy had on the album. “Overtake You” is one of my favorite cuts on the disc. The lyrics seem more aggressive, too: “You’ll come to get me but you’ll end up dead!” “Forever” is a riff-laden love song. This is another very radio-accessible song, but it works much better than “Never the Same” does. “Nothing and Everything” is the final cut, and is essentially an acoustic version of “Fight Inside.” The piano and strings arrangement works quite well when compared to “Fight Inside,” and the song really serves as an illustration of the differences (and yet also the similarities) between the two sides of the conflict inside us.

I mentioned that the bonus DVD includes a making of the CD feature, which is very informative. The video for “Death Of Me” is also included, as is a feature on the making of the video. I actually enjoyed the song more after having seen the video. There is also a photo gallery on the DVD, with concert stills.

Overall, this is an outstanding release. The danger of the sophomore release is that the band will abandon the things that made its first release so popular, and alienate all its core fans. Red hasn’t done that at all. There are some noticeable differences between the two albums, and you can definitely see some maturity in Innocence and Instinct (especially lyrically, after Red’s van accident during their last tour).


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