Red Sea – Sanguine (EP Review)

Red SeaSanguine EP
Released: November 6th, 2020

Lineup:

Erica Bowron // Vocals
Scot Daniels // Guitar
Pete Kelly // Drums
Attila Muhari // Bass

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Sydney groove metal band Red Sea have released their long-awaited second EP, Sanguine, and goodness me—it packs a bit of a punch. The EP title, Sanguine immediately lends thought to blood, thick and richly red, but it also means optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation. And I like that, doesn’t it just describe 2020 perfectly?

But to the music! And firstly I want to say that Red Sea do, in no way, lack passion. It comes across strongly through Erica Bowron’s vocals, and is bolstered by the guitar melodies and drum patterns. Take their opening track, for example, ‘The Score’. I love me some anticipation building chuggy riffs, and this track has it. Think atmospheric, powerful, and leading up to something unknown. Turns out it’s a beautiful little interlude punctuated by rapid, loud riffs. It’s the pleasant surprise you needed after quite a vocally heavy track. Towards the end, the guitars really flit about under her vocals, and you find yourself wishing you heard more of them.

Now, ‘The One’ is bass heavy with a metal feel. And when that ride cymbal comes in all prominent like, it leads to a sharp, primal feel that seems like it may lead to a breakdown. But nay. It does sound like the vocals are definitely sitting in the driving seat and there’s no backseat driving allowed. It’d be nice to have more of a balance and hear what the drums and guitars can do when they’re given space to breathe.

But, oh my gosh, the track that really caught me was ‘Hopelessly…’ because I spent half the song trying to figure out the time signature. It’s the sort of song that catches you expecting another beat but there isn’t one, and the drum pattern is super interesting—is it jazzy? Is it hip-hop? In the end I had to ‘phone a friend’ (which was actually my sister who studied piano and singing for a whole bunch of years) and turns out it’s a 6/8, or waltz, time signature! Of course, it’s hard to analyse a songs time signature without the sheet music, but educated guess and here we are! You can count out the 1-and-2-and-3-and-1-and-2-and-3 over and over, and probably ballroom dance to this track as well if you’d really like. But in the end, the beat, the airy vocals, and the slightly distorted guitars make this one hell of a song. Am I a nerd for prog? Ooh you got me.

‘Shadow of a Man’ is made to be a strong live song because the double kicks in there would get your heart pumping in no time. The band really play with pace and light and shade throughout the five minutes, but the last minute is where it’s at. A catchy riff takes hold, just enough to catch your attention again before Erica’s vocals take you on to the end.

And we end fittingly with ‘Burn It All Down’, which is how we feel about everything this year. Erica’s ethereal vocals morph into aggressive shouts of ‘move!’ and then we get the headbanging guitars that take us out the door and onto the streets to mosh in a socially distanced manner.

Red Sea have delivered an EP that is ear-catching and thought-provoking. The vocals are no doubt amazing, but have a tendency to almost take over the entire song, although some listeners may not complain at all. With a bit more balance, and the continuation of such great song writing, I can’t wait to hear more from this band.

Red SeaSanguine EP tracklisting

  1. The Score
  2. The One
  3. Hopelessly…
  4. Shadow of a Man
  5. Burn It All Down

Rating: 7/10
Sanguine is out now via MGM. Buy your copy here.
Review By Ebony Story

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