Red Death| ‘Permanent Exile’
It’s always satisfying to hear about an album coming out that you weren’t expecting.
And it’s even more satisfying when you discover just how fucking brilliant it is.
From Washington DC, Red Death are made up of members from other luminous hardcore bands like Coke Bust, Intent and Pure Disgust, I first came across these lads last year, when I reviewed their demo for this site, and I noted that there was a strong influence of proper C.O.C and The Accused.
Clearly, these were lads who knew their history. And were prepared to wear it on their sleeves.
Obviously, there’s a million and one other bands around the world with the same approach. They know what the classic records are, and they’re prepared to play songs that are very much in the vein of those classics.
You (and the likes of Simon Reynolds) could argue that this has led us to the musical climate we find ourselves in today: ‘past shock’ – taking music back through time and finding ourselves not shocked at a sound being proclaimed “the future”, but shocked by how familiar the sound is.
In this case, we’ll overlook that aspect for another time. Because the songs that make up ‘Permanent Exile’ are fucking brilliant.
‘Brutalized’ opens with a short burst of feedback burying a bass riff, before moving into more moody and midpaced territory. Quietly delivered spoken word vocals pepper the mix before the speed is upped ever so slightly.
Calm Before Storm
In a way, it’s a very traditional opener for a hardcore album (what could be described as “the calm before the storm” track). But it sets the mood perfectly: brooding, intense with the feeling that a riot will erupt any second.
‘Ruinous Wrath’ brings that mayhem in bucket loads. Proper hardcore riffage played correctly, with some gnarly vocals fighting to be heard over the top of the mix. Nothing strange or unusual, it just grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go until the end.
‘Unholy Alliance II’ is a re recording from their demo. There isn’t an awful lot of difference between the two versions except for the cleaner production, which makes the first half sound like a Power Trip outtake. You gotta love the solos at the end, which wail away in the same fashion as Fast Eddie’s.
The drums on ‘Strategic Mass Delirium’ will undoubtedly inspire mass pits when played live but it’s the barrage of noise that really makes this track the best on the record. A mix of wah wah, and running the plectrum along the strings, it’s an assault on the senses. The little pause before everyone comes in to play the proper song is magic. Just makes the song sound even more intense.
Cleaner And Crisper
Closer ‘Perpetrator’ is seemingly a tribute to Quiv era Broken Bones, with a nod to Poison Idea in the last minute. A suitable closer for a manic album.
The cover art carries on in the same vein as the demo with the executioner now going all Rambo on us. Their own Martha Splatterhead. It feels like a mash up of Glyn Smyth and Pushead. A mix of the comic book and the gritty, and would look great on a t-shirt.
The production is a lot cleaner and crisper than the demo, and while that can often be the kiss of death for bands of this ilk, it’s certainly not the case here. Each riff shines thanks to the power and melody on display, while the drums pound and batter, the bass is warm, and the vocals have intensity and despair.
I’m going to freely state that this is the greatest album I’ve heard so far this year. The passion, intensity and sheer fun come through on every track, and will be hard to top.
4.5 / 5 – Christopher Owens ::: 06/05/2015