Ever since groups like Flyleaf, Paramore and Fireflight began taking over the airwaves, bands with female head bangers have been gracing magazine covers, radio countdowns, and music charts more than ever lately. It seems that because of the success of said musicians, droves of young bands have been following their lead. Emerging into the industry with a similar formula are the Florida natives, Submission Red.
Submission Red first broke out on the scene in 2008 with their self-titled EP. After signing with Dream Records, they came back around again with their first full-length, Vision Tour, released in 2011. Over the past year, they've been working hard to build up hype and expectation for this new record, Untamed Ones. With a bio that files them under both "indie rock" and "hard rock" (which I would personally not file under either), and states bands like Nine Inch Nails, Switchfoot, and Hillsong as being comparable in sound to them, it definitely adds to the curiosity on what the final product will sound like. Does the album live up to the expectations they've created?
The album opens up with the title track, "Untamed Ones," and it's clear that Submission Red is intending to present their message unabashedly in their music. With choruses like "We are untamed ones, and we rise above the flames. You see us walk above the living, but we are not the same. We are the ordinary, seeking extraordinary. We are untamed ones," it seems like they're aiming for both flair and substance, but unfortunately fall into the "it's all been done before" category. "24 (I Want More Of You)" comes off as a rocker, with vocalist Yvonne Winfrey adding some background screams along with her singing. The bridge then goes into somewhat of a breakdown, but by the end it leaves much to be desired. "Hurting Me Like High School" appears to be about an unrequited love and "history repeating" itself, but instead of coming off as poignant and witty, it's almost laughable because of how cheesy the lyrics are written. The oddball on the record, "Happy Birthday Sunshine," is a short one-minute-and-five-second ditty, and has a tinge of country twang sprinkled through it. While it's probably meant to be charming, it's irrelevant and ill-fitted for this particular project. At least where it's placed on the record, it would have been better suited as a hidden track on one of the songs instead of having its own track listing. Adding to the mix are "When He Looks Down" and "What Is It All For?" which are the two ballads found on here. They both follow the standard patterns of a rock ballad, but do nothing to reach beyond that mold. The final track on Untamed Ones is "Alive," ending it all on a mellow, if not dissonant, note.
While the instrumentals are by far more enjoyable than Winfrey's vocals (more on that later), they still come off as mediocre at best and poorly practiced at worst. Winfrey's voice is not very enjoyable on the majority of the songs, and it feels like she's pushing her voice too much on several tracks. As mentioned above, the lyrics come off as cliché and cheesy, which makes it even harder to take the band seriously with this release. One thing that Submission Red makes clear is that they believe they have something to say with music. While it's great that their message has some good virtues, it's also something that has been said before, in almost the same fashion, many, many times over. I realize that there's only so much a band can say and do to be original, but there are also ways to push yourself to make your music and lyrics as creative as they can be. It just doesn't feel as if Submission Red succeeded to do that on this album.
With all that being said, the song "Fight For Me," while it's nothing to write home about, is the song the band sounds the best on together. The guitars have some decent riffs and the vocals are more tolerable that most of the other tracks.
Now, this isn't all to say this band won't improve and grow over time, but after listening to Untamed Ones a few times through, it makes me wonder how they, out of all the other aspiring bands, rose to national recognition and landed a contract with Dream Records. The flaws and lack of creativity are very clear on here, which are the last two things any band or record label wants to have on an album. If Submission Red wants to stay in the game, they're going to have to step it up. Long gone are the days where solely having a female lead singer distinguishes a band from their contemporaries. They're going to have to push themselves to grow creatively if they want to keep up with the industry.
I know that some of you out there may enjoy Submission Red's sound, and thus will probably like Untamed Ones, but if you were searching for something to satisfy your craving for pop punk/pop rock, then this album may not be your final destination.- PReview date: 10/10/12, Review date: 10/12/12, written by Cortney Warner of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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