Red XIII- Perceptions

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, March 2, 2013

Quite a bit of the American metalcore scene seems to have stagnated, but when it comes to British acts there still seems to be a good deal of potential. Red XIII is one of the relatively newer acts to try their hand at the genre, and their newest EP Perceptions comes almost three years after their debut album. The group pulls from some familiar influences, but they have a tendency to skew towards the technical side and don’t fall into the trap of constant breakdowns that plagues this style. Although there is still room for further expansion, this is still a release that is enjoyable to listen to.

Red XIII pulls from a little bit of everything throughout Perceptions, and while the base of their material is familiar metalcore riffs there are hints of deathcore and even some progressive metal touches. Like many of the bands in this genre, these guys like to make sure that their songs are consistently heavy and don’t let up for their entirety. But rather than accomplishing this through breakdowns, the instrumentalists instead opt for bottom heavy tonality and a recording/mixing job that emphasizes the more intense aspects of their sound. What stood out the most to me were the tracks where there was a slight progressive edge and the band went in a more technical direction or threw in a quick bass lick to help break things up. It was during these moments where I felt they really started to hit their stride, and the combination of punchy metalcore arrangements and bursts of technical riffs made Red XIII stand out a bit more. There’s still plenty of room for the progressive sections to be expanded upon though, as it does feel like the band is still scratching the surface when it comes to these ideas.

The vocals on Perceptions move between three different styles, and it never feels as though the band settles on any particular one for too long. You’ve got the standard metalcore back/growl, much lower deathcore style growls, and some pseudo screaming that has that sound where the singer screams but breaks into slightly cleaner pitches in the middle of it. The first two styles worked quite well with the heavier tonality, but I wasn’t that crazy about the scream/singing combination. Maybe it’s just my personal preferences, but the few times where this style popped up it just sounded a bit off and didn’t have anywhere near the same type of intensity. Thankfully the group leans more towards the lower pitched styles, but if they do continue to go for slightly higher pitched ranges these performances could use a bit more work.

I would like to see Red XIII exploit the technical ability of their guitar and bass work a bit more, as it is clear that when they head in these directions they are able to offer catchy results. But while there is more that the group could do, Perceptions was still an enjoyable listens and fans of technical/progressive leaning metalcore should find this EP worth checking out. I do think it will take another album before these guys reach a truly must listen to level, but it is a bit nice to find a band that’s able to sound heavy without relying on breakdowns or bass drops.

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