Red Handed Denial – Redeemer (Self-Released)

Tuesday, 26th March 2019
Rating: 9.5/10

Executing a follow-up concept to their previous EP, 2016’s Wanderer, Red Handed Denial take a more unique approach to progressive metal with their latest effort Redeemer. The seeming culmination of a decade of work since their first EP, Eyes and Liquid Skies, there’s an inventive and fresh take to the way that they take established ideas and insert them into new settings. Something that makes Redeemer instantly addictive yet with the depth necessary for a thorough investigation.

There’s a lot to take in with the album’s 14 tracks, in terms of sheer length and the incorporation of varied styles and influences. The more immediate parts of this include progressive/djent, metalcore, melodic death metal, and even pop. While the last one may throw some for a loop, the way they weave in more pop-flavored melodies into a hard-hitting framework of intricate and ear-tickling proggy riffs and frenetic leadwork is what gives them their most distinguishing qualities. They can fling in a breakdown that borders on deathcore on “Clockwork” and then turn right around and hit you with a hyper-catchy melodic chorus without skipping a beat or jarring transition. The way that they bring in little nuances to each track is also worth noting, be it a more eastern flavor on “Abdication,” a beautiful bit of closing orchestration on “Locked in a Vacancy,” or soaring gang-vocals on “Redemption,” there is something that will make each track memorable in its own way.

As a concept album, one thing that really shines is how the tracks shift from a darker and more visceral attack to something more atmospheric and uplifting by the second half. “Awakening,” “Clockwork,” and “Empire” lead the charge in heaviness, offering weighty chugs amid playful prog indulgences and more immediately catchy moments. “Worse for Wear” is the true shifting point, with a stronger focus on clean vocals and a more dreamy atmosphere, and really takes off with “Solace,” an epic sounding ballad with cinematic scope and emotionally potent vocals. Lauren Babic deserves some real credit for her chameleon-like vocal abilities, being able to pull off some absolutely menacing growls and shouts (see “Empire”) yet bring out clean vocals that could rival many in the rock scene. All with a genuine feeling that cements the near-constant changes of the music behind her with something that both grounds it and delights.

A combination of hook-y instant gratification and thinking-person’s music, Red Handed Denial cast a wide net. Redeemer can be enjoyed by blasting the volume and getting into it, or sitting back and dissecting the joyously complex riff structures. Either choice is a valid one, and will ensure you become completely immersed in its concept and execution. Red Handed Denial have a real winner on their hands, and one that should see them catching some well-deserved favor as word spreads about Redeemer.

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