Gothic rock music for some, might have been considered as a ‘dead and buried’ genre with everything that it had to offer to have been already delivered to the audiences by Fields of The Nephilim and Sisters of Mercy. Red Sun Revival love the genre so much that they decided to give to it the kiss of life and the new energy it needed so much in order to inspire new and older audiences. There is of course an undeniable gothic revival trend during the last few years but in ‘Identities’ the second studio album by Red Sun Revival, we hear equally strongly both the gothic (through the vocals and the rhythms) and the rock element (through the character of the electric guitar solos). England is the motherland of the genre and Red Sun Revival have absorbed the tradition of gothic rock in the most creative way without replicating but instead adding noticeable positive elements to the music. The melancholic yet dynamic melodies enriched by the dark aesthetic of the videos swirled in my mind the sound of In The Nursery, Fields of The Nephilim, Mephisto Walz and even Pink Floyd (notice the instrumental part of ‘The Condemned Part I’).
‘…Within my room
All sorrow seems so far away
And oh so soon
They’re drifting in my wake
And when they’re gone…‘(lyrics from the song: ‘Four Walls‘)
Here is what we liked so much about this album that made us listen to it at least three times the first day…
The album starts with ‘Premonition’ and the dynamism of a chorus sang so emotionally that it captured my unobstructed attention at once. It seems that Red Sun Revival take us from the very first song to the point with the highest energy, not gradually but immediately! There is no climax in this album but rather a gradual and careful increase of emotional energy as the melodies unfold. During the 10 songs of this album the stories that the lyrics narrate become more and more relevant to everyone. You would imagine that the emotional excitement and even the comforting element of the music would lessen at some point…not only does this not happen but strong feelings build up as the lyrics talk about personal existential issues, emotional impasses, betrayal, and manage to cause flashbacks to our own experiences. If you pay attention to the words combined with the melodic voice of Rob Leydon, you will struggle to keep your emotions confined in those little boxes of your mind!
‘…when I dispense your justice nothing else will stand…‘ (lyrics from the song: ‘In Your Name‘)
The sound of ‘Identities’
Red Sun Revival is an experienced band when it comes to the overall production of music as most of their members have many years of presence in music through other bands (The Eden House, Voices of Masada…). Their first album ‘Running From The Dawn’ was mastered by Andy Jackson, the famous sound engineer involved in the production of the album ‘Division Bell’ by Pink Floyd. ‘Identities’ was recorded by the equally experienced and respected vocalist of Nosferatu, Louis DeWray while Stephen Carey (The Eden House, This Burning Effigy, NFD) was responsible for the mixing and the production of the album and the EP called ‘Embers’ that preceded it. The sound in ‘Identities’ is very clear and the sound of each instrument can be heard at all its depth and can be fully appreciated in the context of each song. Traditional gothic rock music usually emphasizes the rhythms and the ‘heaviness’ of the vocals and the instruments. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that space has been given to the keyboards and to the violin. In ‘The Condemned Part I’ there are additional keyboards by Sam Morrison while the drums you hear and which don’t cast sonic shadows to the sensitive electric violin, are courtesy of Simon Rippin an experienced drummer who has collaborated with Fields of The Nehpilim, The Nefilim, NFD, The Eden House and Adoration. A careful arrangement of all these instruments and a consideration of the role each one plays in this album, are responsible for the fact that the melodies we hear, lift somehow the heavy and old fashioned sonic weight of traditional gothic music as it has been established in our minds and ears. The electric guitar solos in this album have an equally important role as they electrify the overall gothic atmosphere in new ways by being inspired by rock and hard rock guitar solos. Matt Helm the musician behind these captivating solos really showed some skill in this album! Rob Leydon’s voice has a lot of tonal and melodic turns and it was a pleasure to hear all these elements nicely balanced within this second album. It is the personal lyrics and what they talk about that has revealed the passionate and emotionally convincing element of Rob Leydon as far as his performance is concerned. That’s one more element that makes the atmosphere of this album unforgettable.
‘…And though you seem so different some small trace of you remains
I recognise the evidence this way
You’ve come here to remind me of a promise made back then
I wonder if we’ll ever meet again… ‘(lyrics from the song: ‘Echoes‘)
The changes that made a difference since ‘Running From the Dawn’
The first time I saw Red Sun Revival perform live was in 2013 at The Purple Turtle as a support band for Diary of Dreams. Their sound, apart from being of high quality in terms of clarity and depth had very few of the aforementioned elements. The inclusion of the electric violin courtesy of Christina Emery and the contrasting ‘heavy’ in character, vocals made a difference to me during this live. The melodies were not as prominent in the debut album of the band, the guitar solos were coming out as a bit reserved (for example in ‘Last Chance‘) not having fully explored every avenue. The orchestral element contributed to the ‘heavy’ (for example in ‘Miracles‘) atmosphere especially as it was combined with bass vocals which didn’t highlight their melodic aspect. Rhythmical repetition seemed to be the basic element of this debut album and the band gave off the impression of treading safely by relying on traditional gothic rock elements without adding their own touch to their sound. Since that gig, the lyrics have taken on the emotional burden that comes from strong moments in one’s life. The performance of those lyrics has become more emotional and this makes the music of the band more communicative, more personal and therefore more appealing. ‘The Reckoning‘ and ‘In Your Name‘ while being gothic rock songs, bring to mind something from the atmosphere of the metal ballads from the past and I say this in every positive way.
‘Identities’ is a more mature and strong album than the debut album from this band. Three years have passed since the release of ‘Running From The Dawn‘ and Red Sun Revival have let themselves free to express their emotions through their music, they were inspired and they enriched their sound a lot with melodies, meanings and rhythms. Guitar solos have explored inspiring dimensions while the electric violin played by Christina Emery, is brought to the foreground in this album, forms the rhythmical base of the songs, offers very nice and motivating melodies and is a protagonist in the creation of the identity of this album. The band didn’t have backing vocals in the debut album, in ‘Identities’ and specifically in ‘Echoes‘ and ‘The Condemned Part I‘, the violinist of the band Christina Emery is providing these vocals which at times are not heard very clearly though they are ethereal and very nice. We hope that we could hear more of her in the future. I really loved the combination of the bass by Panos Theodoropoulos and violin after 3.26 in ‘Mistakes‘ and the combination of violin and electric guitar by Matt Helm in 4.20. ‘Mistakes‘ and ‘Four Walls‘ have become my favourite songs from an overall loved album.
‘…sometimes when I see your face in dreams everything becomes just like a memory…‘ (lyrics from the song: ‘Mistakes‘)
In the cover of ‘Identities’ we see a man’s face being abstractly formed by tree branch-like forms, replicating the image of an organism formed by nerves and arteries. I perceived this image as a metaphor for the lyrics and the music of the album which, as the arteries and the nerves of a living organism, give life to this band. In ‘Mistakes’ the black and white video that has been recorded on Dorset coast depicts an almost typical gothic scene of a person being confronted with the harshness and mania of natural elements, a metaphor for the chaotic impasses of existence. This shows a more mature approach compared to the videos that were made for the debut album of this band,I really liked the combined effect of the music and the visuals in ‘Identities’. I honestly consider that with this album Red Sun Revival found their identity and offered us an album worth purchasing. Congratulations Rob, Christina, Panos and Matt! Keep this up!