Arts & Life, Music

Struggle, escape pervade Red 9’s debut

Red 9, an indie rock band from Southern California, adds another alternative/grunge album to the popular mixed genre’s list.

The full-length debut album titled “The Host” contains eight songs, all of which sound like cookie-cutter grunge rather than alternative.

The band begins its album with a slow drumbeat in the first song “Adios.” While each song contains melancholy notes, this one evokes the most gloominess. Jeff Lyons, lead singer and bass player, sings, “I don’t ask why, I don’t ask what it means/It may not be as crazy as it seems/A line is drawn, a line is crossed/Are we gonna dig another grave?”

Listeners will immediately assume that the album’s theme is personal battle. The next song, “Pedophile,” may refer to a real life struggle. The lyrics and Lyons’s voice hold the listener’s attention as he sings, “I was not born afraid/You made me that way/With what you’ve said and what you’ve done/It never seems to fade.”

Red 9’s only creative and standout song, “Facedown,” progresses in layers, first with low guitar, bass and vocal notes that sound almost eerie. Then at the chorus, the singer belts out, “Just tell me one thing/Will you take it face down/Will you beg for it now?/‘Cause I want to know.”

The music progresses halfway through the song from grunge to alternative via Paul Frislie’s bright guitar strums.

After the rich and carefree guitar notes in “Facedown,” the skillful guitar strums, synthesizer sounds and lyrics in “Last Mistake” will likely make listeners feel like they are suffocating. A verse says, “A welcome disease/Force me on my knees/In deeper, now I feel the squeeze/I need to scream out/While drowning in doubt.”

The song ends with words of perseverance.

Some creativity is in the song “Out Like a Soldier.” The beginning sounds like a song heard in a western film. The rhythm matches a cowboy’s slow, aimless footsteps, and the lyrics, “Taste of metal, smell of oil/I’m running for my life/Wandering for far too long/And praying for daylight,” could very well describe an outlaw.

The song “The Host” sounds supernatural at first, but the words, “Those parasites you let inside/Will tear your life apart in time/You’re just the host with no control/This is all you’ve ever known,” refer to someone being tricked by others.

The drummer, Giovanni Fuentes, shines with amazing skills in “So It Ends.” The fast movements seem to paint the lyrics’ description of a figurative fight with “punishment all around.”

In “Lay to Waste,” sirens and the sound of crackling fire begin the album’s final song. Then the classic grunge music arrives. It winds down at the end and leaves Lyons alone in the song with the words, “Am I the only one?”

While listening to the album, it is easy to compare Red 9’s music to that of Creed, Nirvana and Bush. Also, Lyons’s vocal chops sound similar to Aaron Lewis from Staind and Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam.

On the downside, while the lyrics hold deep meaning, the structures lack creativity. There is not much rhyming in the lyrics and the grunge music sounds the same in every song.

Also, it seems that all the songs depict struggle and only the slightest hope of escaping that struggle. However, each song tells the same message differently and Red 9 coats the music with intense sentences such as, “After all we will become the dust” and “A dying man is all the proof we need/Growing from our mind just like a weed/Lay to rest while we lay all to waste.”

Grunge fans are sure to enjoy “The Host.” Those who like alternative rock will eventually learn to like this album, as the songs are easier to adjust to after some time. Overall, Red 9 produced a decent debut. 

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