Album Review: Red Descending – Kingdoms
Artist: Red Descending (Australia)
Album: Kingdoms (2011)
Genre: Progressive / Symphonic Death Metal
There, I could very well leave it at that. It doesn’t get more accurate. Kingdoms is epic, and I don’t mean that in the way of the word when it’s used so lightly as it often is these days. I mean epic in the way it was meant to describe legendary and heroic events, battles between good and evil, that sort of thing. Something so awe-inspiring it’s just baffling and makes you want to cry like a baby that just shat its pants.
Red Descending’s second album is a piece of carefully devised brilliance, even more so than its predecessor, Where Dreams Come to Die. We didn’t officially review that, as it came out well before I started The Baboon, but I haven’t listened to it so incredibly often I pretty much know it by heart. And I’m still enjoying it regularly. Kingdoms was released last Friday and if you haven’t ordered it already, let me tell you why you should.
Kingdoms contains ten tracks, matching very nearly a full hour of music. And not just any music, but some major intelligent Symphonic Death Metal with a very thick, very dark sauce covering it like too much gravy covering just one potato. Consequently, it’s not music to be listened to lightly, without consideration. This stuff demands attention, though it doesn’t really have to, because you’ll be happy to give it every friggin’ ounce of attention you’ve got in you.
Kingdoms starts off with a brief intro track, spanning up about a minute and a half. It’s heroic and it would befit the scene of a movie in which the tough-ass army of the good guys walks onto the field and they start choppin’ evil heads effortlessly. But as the intro transgresses into the album’s first real song, Burned to Death, shit starts hitting the fan and they all get washed away by a big black wave of sticky tar and they’ve got a struggle on their hands.
Struggle is basically the key feeling I’m picking up from this record. It’s one big battle between good and evil, light and dark, white and black, and it really doesn’t matter for shit who would win. It’s the struggle that makes this so very interesting, as the music features both sides gaining the advantage and being driven back so many times. And that’s precisely what makes it epic.
The track to make the biggest impression on me so far, is track no. 4, Kings of Torture. I’ve taken the liberty of uploading it for you, so you can get a taste of it as you read along. The song features some of the most raspy vocals I’ve ever heard; vocalist and bassist Bernard Shaw must have had a bit of a throat ache after recording this. But the song also features a sweet interplay of symphonics and lead guitar work, some sweet ass riffs, enlightening female cleans and a break piece that starts brilliantly dirty and then turns to some catchy, but nothing too complicated, guitar soloing.
The band’s got a good feel for this. They don’t focus on technicalities and showing off speed, but rather have spent their efforts on the compositions. And it shows, because each of the songs on Kingdoms tells of a new phase in the struggle.
That’s not to say there isn’t a lot of musical cunning going on. Each of the instruments is a joy to listen to separately, make no mistake, but together it lifts its entirety to a whole new level, where you don’t focus on constituent parts anymore, but on the whole. Which doesn’t mean it can’t be very rewarding to break it all down in your head though.
As Bernard mentioned, it features ”some VERY dark moments”, but like with Where Dreams Come to Die it ends with a song with a lighter inclination, also the album’s title track. It’s not as victorious as Landscape, the closing track of WDCtD, but more considerate of the struggle that has taken place and the sacrifices made. But, it unmistakably ends with a sense of pride and relief and hope for the future.
Kingdoms, as I said, is epic. It speaks through every fiber of the record’s being. It’s got great tales to tell, and it wants to be listened to, not just heard. There’s no denying its immense qualities and the highly evident care and effort that have gone into making it. If you’re not suffering from some kind of mental deficit causing you to have the attention span of an amoeba, this really is an album you should feast your ears on. Do yourself a favor!
My Grade: 9.5/10
Buy this when:
- you don’t mind a good portion of darkness through your Metal
- your attention span outlasts that of an amoeba
- you can figure out one good reason not to buy this (insufficient monetary funds is a lame excuse and you know it!)