One of the most passionate and successful Christian metal bands, Red (stylized as RED or R3D) is a band that can tug at your heartstrings, make you sing along, and make you bang your head at the same time with almost every song.
Characterized by their dark, emotional music, prominent mainstream rock influences, bombastic string sections, energetic and fiery live shows, and the instantly recognizable, expressive vocals of frontman Michael Barnes, Red have crafted one of Christian music's most devoted followings and have gained near-universal respect and acclaim worldwide over the years, not just for their music, but for their love for their fans and ability to strive through their hardships even through the bleakest of times. To say the least, Red have had quite a history.
Red was formed in 2006 by twin brothers Randy and Anthony Armstrong, bassist and guitarist respectively, drummer Andrew Hendrix, guitarist Jasen Rauch, and lead singer Michael Barnes, choosing their band name to symbolize the "blood of Christ". Before the band released an album, Hendrix left and was replaced with Hayden Lamb (cousin of ex-Paramore guitarist Hunter Lamb). After signing with big name record label Sony BMG after creating a handful of demo tracks, they released their first full-length album End of Silence that same year.
End of Silence received excellent reviews for its high-velocity brand of alt-metal/modern rock, both inside and outside of Christian music circles, as well as for being an original spin on a tired formula, although some criticized it for its radio appeal. The album's opening track and lead single "Breathe Into Me" made the top 10 in the Active Rock charts, which had in turn gave them a bit more of a following. The following year, the album was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Gospel Album, but lost to Jonny Lang's Turn Around. To compensate, however, they won a Dove Award for Best Rock Song for the above-mentioned "Breathe Into Me" and was nominated for another with the power ballad "Lost" from the same album.
Tragedy struck when the band suffered a near-fatal car accident in which their van rolled over a highway, critically injuring Lamb and forcing him to leave the band. The crash was the inspiration for the band's second album Innocent & Instinct, released in early 2009. The album was near-universally acclaimed and featured the band fully coming into their own for the first time, receiving rave reviews from the modern rock, metal, and Christian music press, and to this day is regarded as one of their greatest. Even more touring followed, and in 2010, the album gave them another Dove Award for Rock Album of the Year, and was also nominated for a Grammy, but sadly didn't win.
Jasen Rauch left the band in early 2010, although he still contributed songwriting. The band's first album as a four-piece, Until We Have Faces, was released in February 2011. While not as well-received critically as their first two, it became popular with fans and solidified their status as one of Christian metal's biggest and most consistent bands. Compared to their previous records, Until We Have Faces contained more powerful ballads, featured a heavier sound, and lower tunings. Its opening song "Feed the Machine" began a continuing storyline with its long-form music video. The record also received the stamp of approval from Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci, who named it his favorite album of 2011.
Their fourth album Release the Panic was subject to no small amount of derision. It was criticized for its less inspired sound, short length, and commercial songwriting, and began a brief Dork Age for them. Michael Barnes openly stated in an interview that the album was written to have more commercial appeal, but doesn't regret making it.
After this, the band took time to remind them what made them want to write music in the first place, and in early 2015, released Of Beauty & Rage. Featuring the fan-favorite song "Darkest Part" (which became the band's Signature Song), Of Beauty and Rage is widely considered to be the band's best album to date.
- End of Silence (2006)
- Innocence & Instinct (2009)
- Until We Have Faces (2011)
- Release the Panic (2013)
- Of Beauty and Rage (2015)
- Gone (2017)
- Declaration (2020)
"I never wanted you to see the darkest tropes of me":
- Album Title Drop: "Yours Again" drops the title of its album.Will I see you slip away?
Or is this a new beginning
Of beauty and rage?
- Be Yourself: "Who We Are".We can be who we are
Now we are alive
We can fight they cannot contain us
- Bookends: Of Beauty and Rage beings with an instrumental called "Descent" and end with an instrumental called "Ascent."
- Careful with That Axe: Michael Barnes lets a bloodcurdling scream or two in every second song.
- The last chorus of "Darkest Part."I never wanted you to see
The darkest part of me
I knew you'd run AWAY!!
I waited but you never came
So afraid to be alone
I tried to let you go
Still I find you lost inside the DARKEST PART OF MEEEEE
- Combined with Incredibly Long Note during the bridge of "From The Ashes."We live, we die
We fall... WE RISE
- "The Evening Hate" does this a lot and also inverts this in one of the choruses:INSIIIIDE THE EVENING... [whispers] hate
- The last chorus of "Darkest Part."
- Christian Rock: They said they are themselves. They are, unlike some bands, open about their Christianity, and will proudly tell any fan the reason why they believe they are part of the movement.
- Color Motif: Most of their album covers have something red (duh) on them symbolizing the "blood of Christ," just like the band's name.
- Cover Version: Gone has "Unstoppable," originally by Sia.
- Crisis of Faith: "Let It Burn," a song about the singer doubting God's existence, or even considering Him a coward, as he watches disaster after disaster unfold before him, seemingly without relief.Can You stand the pain?
How long will You hide Your face?
How long will You be afraid?
Are You afraid?
- Despair Event Horizon: Many songs depict the narrator on the brink of it.
- "Buried Beneath".I'm finally breaking so where are you now
It's been such a long time
But I've tried to live without
I'm suffocating I need you to breathe
So reach down and pull me up
Pull me out before I am buried beneath
- "Falling Sky".Under a falling sky
Hopeless, there's nowhere to hide
The terror is real this time
Under a falling sky
I'm under, I'm under
A falling sky
- "Buried Beneath".
- God-Is-Love Songs: Most of their output sounds like love songs or songs about relationships of varying degrees of unhealthiness but actually, they are about the narrators relationship with God.
- Guyliner: Michael Barnes wears eyeliner in videos ("Darkest Part", for example) and on stage.
- Hates Being Alone: In "Darkest Part," the narrator says he's so afraid to be alone.
- I Can't Do This by Myself: "Pieces". "I tried so hard/Thought I could do this on my own/I've lost so much along the way..."
- "I Hate" Song: Their 2020 album, Declaration, includes "The Evening Hate", which theyve said "dives into the deep-seeded hatred that everyone has felt at some point or another." Unlike other songs, this one even portrays the consequences of holding on to that level of anger, like the implications that the singer is literally losing his mind due to the immense hatred.
- Incredibly Long Note: The bloodcurdling scream during the bridge of "From The Ashes" goes on for over 10 seconds. The same happens in the last refrain of "All for You."
- Living Emotional Crutch: "Pieces". As it is a God Is Love Song, God is his crutch.You call my nameI come to You in piecesSo You can make me wholeI've come undoneBut You make sense of who I amLike puzzle pieces in Your hand
- Metal Scream: Happens in some of their heavier songs. Michael is rather good at it.
- "Psycho" Strings: Hysterical strings notes are part of Red's Signature Style.
- Sanity Slippage Song: "The Evening Hate".Voices screaming
Cold hands reaching
The earth shaking
My mind BREAKING!!!
- Self-Backing Vocalist: Michael Barnes sings with himself a lot. Some songs, such as "Fight To Forget" and "Cauterize," overdub his screaming and his clean vocals. The bridge of "Death of Me" overdubs his screaming and whispering.
- Shout-Out: "Faceless" contains the line "Can you save me from the nothing I've become?"
- Signature Style: Hard-hitting metal riffs combined with symphonic undertones, sad and bleak melodies that still maintain accessibility, and the signature emotional voice of Michael Barnes. Not many bands in alt-rock and metal sound that much like them.
- Song of Many Emotions: "All for You" is fury mixed with pain, and the narrator is relieved that he's is no longer afraid of whoever has been hurting him.
- Soprano and Gravel: Michael Barnes does both.
- Splash of Color: Of Beauty and Rage cover is black and white except for blood-red leaves.
- Symphonic Metal: Contains elements of this from time to time due to their heavy use of strings and choirs on some songs. Of Beauty & Rage takes the symphonic part of their sound to the next level.
- You Are Not Alone: "Not Alone".I am with you
I will carry you through it all
I won't leave you, I will catch you
When you feel like letting go
'Cause you're not, you're not alone