After releasing a pair of heavy metal/post-grunge efforts followed by a slightly tamer, less well-received, modern rock-inclined outing, the men of Red have gone on record promising something entirely new and different for their fourth studio release. While they've certainly made good on their word with Release The Panic, few could have guessed at the almost bi-polar approach they employed to do so.
Fiercely brooding, throat-shredding entries like "Damage" and the title track are arguably as heavy, or perhaps even heavier, than anything on the first two albums. On the other end of the spectrum, radio-ready, almost purely pop tracks like "Hold Me Now" and "The Moment We Come Alive" seem poised to give the Sanctus Reals and Starfields of the world a run for their collective money.
While such duality, in and of itself, is hardly cause to dismiss the album outright, far too many of the heaviest cuts lack the melodic content that made the first two albums such commercial successes. Likewise, a good portion of the ballad-based material follows in the overly nondescript, like-sounding footsteps of so many artists currently populating the Christian Hit Radio Top 40 charts.
In all fairness, not all of the metal/hard rock numbers and ballads are outright clunkers. And when the band splits the difference, as they do on medium-heavy pieces like "Perfect Life" and "Die for You," the results are both energizing and engaging. A lesser cousin to the first three records, Release The Panic nevertheless earns its creators high marks for their willingness to shake up the established order a bit. More importantly, though, its stronger entries offer convincing hints that the group's next release may well turn out to be its defining work.- Review date: 1/22/13, written by Bert Gangl of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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