Release the Panic

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While walking toward the arena, several soccer moms, each with a varying degree of visible angst, ran up the steps and entered the concourse.

Red had just taken the stage.

My evening until that point was spent manning a vendor booth. To be honest, Red was the only music I wanted to experience. They are, in my humble opinion, the best band on Winter Jam. I smiled as the line of women continued through the second song of the set.

Meanwhile, I eagerly awaited music from the upcoming album, Essential Records Release The Panic which hits the streets on February 5th. This fourth release from Red was produced by Howard Benson, a name which may be familiar to some. Benson lent his hand to well-known acts such as P.O.D., My Chemical Romance, Daughtry, Skillet, among others.

Stepping back seven years, just before their debut release, I took a risk and interviewed this new band. I would normally only sit down with more established groups. After all, too many end up putting out one album, go out on one or two tours, and are ultimately never to be heard from again. I remember pondering if the record label may have also taken a chance by adding a heavier rock band to their roster.

It appears to have paid off.

Red not only successfully climbed over the sophomore slump, they made it on both sides of the proverbial table, performing alongside notable rock acts such as Hinder, 3 Doors Down, Creed, Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, Godsmack, Sevendust, Flyleaf, Seether, Papa Roach, Buckcherry, Staind, Third Day, Switchfoot, and Skillet, among others.

Red introduced new songs to the sold out crowd, but it was only a teaser. I eagerly placed the CD in my car on the way to an early morning meeting. I don’t drink coffee, but the title track, which leads the album, was almost as good as a boost of caffeine to properly begin my day.

As I continued to listen to Release The Panic, I realized that Red does not fit into the scenario where bands lose their edge with age. Actually, the overall feel of the album offers more edge than before, though the ballads are still present. Vocalist Michael Barnes, guitarist Anthony Armstrong, bassist Randy Armstrong and drummer Joe Rickard offer the same signature Red sound. In fact, if you played snippets of each song, you would know you were listening to Red. But this release is perhaps a step up musically from previous deliveries.

The Deluxe edition includes five additional songs; two brand new and three remixes. I am not a huge fan of re-mixes in general but “Breathe Into Me” is worth the extra cash for the added material. It’s feasible that those soccer moms at Winter Jam would relax when listening to that version.

My main downside to the album, based on a couple of spins, is similar to the first three. The production is over-polished. Maybe I’d just rather hear the songs live.


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