RED SUN REVIVAL
As forecasted by "Embers" EP the last year, London's Red Sun Revival are going through their best musical moment since they were firstly pressed to our consciousness as a band worth following now three years ago with their debut album "Running From The Dawn". Release by release, their sound has evolved and improved into an own gothic rock brand distinguished by its enchanting, lyrically dark, yet warm, atmosphere. With their second full-length album, entitled "Identities", Red Sun Revival not only consolidate, but also kick up a notch this recognizable style by introducing little substantive changes. On the one hand, the structures look more decentralized and opened so that each section shines out in all its fullness. Consequently, the overall sound becomes even more crystalline and lush than usual - once again, the celebrated Stephen Carey (The Eden House) has left his imprint throughout production and mixing. On the other hand, the driving of these songs is noticeably more anthemic, founded on the crucial, versatile work of Panos Theodoropoulos on bass, who efficiently fits the mood and swing while never going too over the top of the mix, as well as on the character-filled, balanced drums played by Simon Rippin (also of The Eden House, and formerly of The Nefilim). So, regarding dynamics, "Identities" sounds somewhat groovier than prior releases, and the focus is much more on Matt Helm's (also of Pretentious Moi?) intricately melodious and rhythmic contribution on the lead guitar. As ever, the alma mater Rob Leydon croons distinctively just like from above the Sea of Fog, using that low, penetrating timbre on the threshold of an emotional collapse. The singer himself gives his vocals an elegiac tune echo when playing clean guitar and keyboards - with respect to the latter, it's remarkably a higher presence of piano counterpoints similar to those popularized by Nosferatu in the '90s, more specifically in the style of their albums "Rise" and "Lord Of The Flies". Either stoking the core with vivid rhythmical chords or painting the backdrop in arpeggiating strokes, Christina Emery rounds off the ambiances with the electric violin. Occasionally, she also puts in some gentle backing vocals which are worth a resource to be further exploited in the future. However, there is something more to this album, something not so necessarily quantifiable, that I would described as chiaroscuro interplay of the melodies, which might well give meaning to those overlapping facial expressions featured in the artwork and, by extension, to the inner-conflict concept that underlies the title. Therefore "Identities" is, in my view, the band's most diverse, equalized and packed recording to date, composed of ten solid gothic rock songs whereby tradition successfully marries with modernity. This album treasures hallmark crossbreeds such as "Mistakes", "Fade In Time", "Premonition", "Echoes" and "Four Walls", with classical reminiscences of The Mission UK and more recent ones in line with the precious-style of the likes of All Hallows Eve, A Ring Of Thorns, Rhombus or Solemn Novena; lively, '80s pop flavored tracks as it's the case with the piano-driven "In Your Name"; lift-off small eternities with exciting twists to psychedelic rock and ethereal wave, such as respectively the two acts of "The Condemned" and "The Awakening", which together make up a memorable last third; and, of course, ravishing ballads of their specialty like "The Reckoning", whose melancholy harmony will rend and warm your heart at the same time. Thus, in view of the above, this is never less than a deeply moving, albeit hook-laden record; an epitome of gothic rock grace and elegance which, like cognac, gets better with a repeated consumption. Moreover, and still under the effects of their splendid concert in Madrid's VI SGM FEST the last year, I would go so far as to say that "Identities" borders on perfection.
(Scheduled for release in 19 June 2015)
Review by Billyphobia