Having spent the last 10 years obsessively playing gigs and perfecting their sound, you’d expect Red Enemy to have a pretty strong command over the sound of their debut album. Certainly, as an album, ‘Red Enemy’, does exude a commanding energy, pummelling the listener with a barrage of pure metal. It’s a force of unhinged thrash intensity that blasts from the speakers, creating in the process a pretty decent approximation of what it’s like to get caught in a mosh pit.
The early tracks do a lot to capture the spark that defines Red Enemy as a killer live act. The momentous build-up of the minute long Blind Eyes segues into the brutally unrestrained (mis)readers, all choppy crashes of instrumentals and screaming vocals that pulse with rage. Demons builds to a heavier, faster place still, culmination in a firestorm of sound and a prolonged, agonised scream of the lyric: “run away from your demons.”
By itself this deft capture of just how intense a band like Red Enemy can get onstage would be enough to make this an album worthy of praise, but there is actually a lot more to it than that. As the album progresses it experiences a couple of subtle shifts, exhibiting not just hard fast numbers to go nuts too, but also some slower, more nuanced tracks.
Grave Seekers slows the pace down (albeit marginally), with a rising and falling beat allowing more space for the highly technical instruments to come through individually, instead of all at once. The rhythm of the song is only emphasised by the neat addition of clean guest vocals – which come cutting in on the final chorus, and are all the more impressive because their appearance is unexpected.
Meanwhile Welcoming Dark Days (the longest track on the album at six minutes) goes full on doom-metal, flowing from a prolonged instrumental intro into a booming, scuzz-dripping wash of supremely heavy noise.
The sheer technical ability and willingness to experiment is evident in countless little, riffs, licks and fills throughout – but Red Enemy have enough restraint to never stray too far from the basics. As the album pumps towards its conclusion the pace picks right back up again, and the sense of a chaos-fuelled live metal show somehow contained and bottled within this album comes back.
Things reach their zenith on Second Heart: the final onslaught of an album that has already given the ears a battering. It also has a kind of tonal echo to the first track, Blind Eyes, serving almost as a reprise of where the album began.
There is a lot on this album to be impressed by, doubly so since it’s a debut. ‘Red Enemy’ is the kind of debut that’s rarely seen these days: one that’s been years in the making, has taken the time to mature, and which displays – if you look closely – evidence of the blood, sweat and tears that have been poured into its construction.