Founded in 2002, GRAMMY-nominated/RIAA-certified gold selling alternative metal quartet RED consistently pair sophisticated instrumentation with hard-hitting songwriting. Dynamic, eclectic, grippingly personal, and unflinchingly outspoken, their artistry has never felt as evocative and irresistible as it does on their brand-new eighth studio album, RATED R.
The follow-up to 2020’s highly acclaimed DECLARATION —the chart-topping first release on their own independent label, Red Entertainment—the self-assured and thought-provoking RATED R finds the Nashville-based band tackling several resonant and relevant topics amidst centering on the ideological and interpersonal divisions, confrontations, and suffering of modern society.
“This record examines how there’s almost no authentic human interaction anymore, leading people who would otherwise have empathy to no longer have it,” guitarist Anthony Armstrong explains. “People just jump online to be whoever they want and say whatever they want. They talk without truly listening first, and we’ve got a real problem with that, especially when it results in violence, children bullying each other, and things like that. Plus, there’s the losses we experience by focusing 24/7 on technology instead of stripping away everything that doesn’t matter and seeing how beautiful and healing it is to live with the bare minimum of what’s necessary.”
Bassist Randy Amstrong agrees: “We’re talking about how traditional family values and systems are broken in a lot of ways and it’s causing chaos. Kids are forced to do active shooter drills at school, and it breaks our hearts. As the saying goes, hurt people hurt people, and there are a lot of hurt people out there who want to harm others. There’s also the notion that we learn by suffering and making the wrong decisions. As philosopher Meiser Eckhart stated: ‘The soul does not grow by addition but by subtraction.’”
Those sentiments even influenced the sequencing and meta qualities of RATED R, as Anthony describes:
“The opening track, ‘Surrogates,’ kicks off with noise from news reports that symbolize how overwhelming the media can be. Then, with “Tell Me How to Say Goodbye” at the halfway point, it sounds like the listener is fishing through radio channels trying to find a good station and an escape. With ‘Emergency’ at the end, we want to lift people out of the darkness while bringing back that initial concept through various emergency signals and tones from eight or nine countries. In a broader sense, we wanted to give fans some sort of tie between the songs to make it all feel connected.”
It’s precisely that kind of blunt, innovative, and affective approach that makes RED’s work so multifaceted and striking. It’s what led to the LP’s title and visuals, too.