Red Handed Denial – Redeemer
Released: March 29th 2019
Red Handed Denial are:
Lauren Babic // Vocals
Tyson Dang // Drums
Chris Mifsud // Guitars
Aleksei Perepelitsa // Guitars
Dominick De Kauwe // Bass
If, at this point in the game, there remains anyone yet to be convinced of the value of female vocalists in heavy music, this is the release to sway you. On March 29th Canadian metalcore outfit, Red Handed Denial, release their sophomore album, Redeemer: a conceptual behemoth set to conclude the epic tale that began with their 2016 Wanderer – EP. Counter to other artists in the previous few years, Red Handed Denial do not seek to revolutionise the metalcore genre – instead they deliver their best efforts in creating an intricate and formidable tale, which proves to be an extremely strong heavy release.
We don’t know a whole lot about the conceptual narrative behind Redeemer. It follows Red Handed Denial’s anti-hero through their journey across a limbo state, seeking passage into the afterlife. Clocking in at 14 tracks, there is a lot to unpack, and a lot to be told. The fictional nature is woven throughout every facet of this album. On one hand we have the vocal delivery – and certainly frontwoman, Lauren Babic, contributes a significant amount towards it. Her lyrical craft treads a fine line between being conceptually ambiguous and propelling a story forwards. On the other hand, we have an intricate and pseudo-progressive instrumental craft. The deliberation over these aspects is clear in the listening experience: conventional structure is constantly subverted, and the effect this creates is very much a free-flowing and dynamic musical experience which lends itself to the story. It feels like there is genuine development, and even consequences which are expanded upon and affect the album. These are the foundations on which the depth and intrigue to Redeemer is created.
Let’s talk a little more about Babic. She sounds like a monster. It can’t be overstated the life she breathes into this effort, and is very much a testament to her versatility as a vocalist. She delivers on all fronts, bringing power and control, as well as delicacy and feel wherever necessary. Her poppy chorus melodies have well-crafted hooks which hold the songs together, and seamlessly drive back into huge powerhouse screams that rival many of the seasoned metal veterans. While her delivery is certainly impressive, a lot is also to be said for her note selection. ‘Awakening’ has some great melodies which end up in unexpected places, and ‘The Art of Bargaining’ features some truly awesome southern, nearly bluesy changeups that really serve the melodic variety. A mention to Andrew Ivanshchenko of Shokran must also be made, as he features on the ‘Abdication’ track. Hearing a contrast against Babic’s extremely distinctive vocal tone is a nice break up in pace and tonality.
Tonally, the effort is full of variety, and there seems to be a distinctive separation in Acts. Act 1 encompasses ‘Void’ through to the 8th track, ‘Locked In Vacancy’, and is by all accounts unrelenting: full on blood and guts metalcore in the best possible way. There are some truly exceptional displays of lead guitar work; second single, ‘Empire’, is a clear illustration of this. This is the heavier half of the album, with riffs dripping in technicality, and a hard-hitting drive. Act 2, starting with ‘Worse For Wear’, through to the concluding track, ‘Elysium’, has more dynamic experimentation – signified by the orchestral interlude at the end of ‘Locked In Vacancy’, reprising some of the melodies from earlier in the track. Songs like ‘Worse For Wear’ emphasise a more conventionally progressive style. Offerings like ‘Atonement’ play back into the conceptual narrative, offering a delicate piano interlude. And tracks like ‘Redemption’ experiment a little further, opening with acoustic guitar before diving back into the metalcore assault. By ‘Solace’, it’s clear that the endgame of this narrative is approaching, which is a very distinctive feeling to capture, and they do it well: the calm before the storm, or the road leading to the Last Of The Lasts. Melancholy and epic.
Although there are no songs that feel like filler, and certainly none that feel lacking, I would posit that there are certain tracks which fail to achieve their purpose as effectively as others which have already done so. At the halfway point of the album, we’ve already encountered a blistering 30 minute assault of metalcore riffage without a lot to break it up. Arguably, this is designed to create the clear distinction between Act 1 and Act 2 – and I would concur. However, it’s difficult to ignore the fact that tracks like ‘Redefine’ – while strong on its own and by all means a good track – doesn’t bring anything new to the table that we haven’t heard already. All of that being said, it’s difficult to call this a legitimate criticism in any capacity, because Red Handed Denial solidify their own signature sound in doing this, and give the overall album a distinctive arc.
Ultimately this effort is as aforementioned: intricate; formidable; heavy; and dynamic. This is an album that I wish I had more time to delve into, because there are undoubtedly hidden gems throughout, and if nothing else, contains a tale worth paying attention to over time. Red Handed Denial have created their best work yet, and will undoubtedly make an impact on the heavy scene – a standard to aspire towards.
- The Art of Bargaining
Red Handed Denial – Redeemer tracklisting
- The Art of Bargaining
- Abdication (Andrew Ivanshchenko of Shokran)
- Sins of Yesterday
- Locked In A Vacancy
- Worse For Wear
Redeemer is out Friday. Pre-Order a copy here
Review by Miles Knox