Left For Red are a 5-piece metal band from the Black Country/ West Midlands near Birmingham in England, an area that has been a hot bed of great rock music through the years including bands (or at least some members of these bands) like Slade, Judas Priest, Black Country Communion and at least one of Led Zeppelin. The band have been around now for 10 years and are releasing their second album Human Complex officially on Saturday April 6 when they play a gig at the O2 Institute in Birmingham. They have released up to now 2 EPs and one album called All Things Known And Buried (back in 2014) which means there has been a 6 year wait for new material. The question is of course was it worth the wait? All will be revealed in the review.
The album is about human emotions and deals with subjects around depression, the effects of religion on some people, fame, hangers on and the hope for us as humans to survive internally as well as externally. In fact one of the interesting things lyrically on the album is that some of the songs can work or be understood to be about 2 different things at the same time. Despite the subject matter the album is quite upbeat with infectious and uplifting choruses. They have dual meanings so you can get more out of the words which is clever. Musically there is plenty of groove mixed with melody and some thrash/industrial type moments. In listening to it I noticed lots of different influences but none which are overused or swamp the band’s own sound or vibe. There are a couple of times they go from a slower more mellow type song to more either heavy or poppy type track which on listening to the vocals seem to be almost like the second track is a direct response to the first.
Onto The Music And Songs:
“Dancing With Misery” starts of in a mellow mode, dark sounding with the words matching the music. It has a touch of 90s alternative with a touch of prog in arrangement. I did think of Pink Floyd a little, especially with the voices near the end of the track. The lyrics include the lines “welcome to conflict, dancing with misery” and as I said the songs are often dark but musically there is plenty of groove. The second song “Switchblade Romance” is almost the exact opposite as it comes crashing in, sort of booting your door open with a great opening riff. It is almost like a different band. The chorus is gentler but there are moments of Slayer type riffing with gruff vocals (although they can still be pretty much made out). The section where if I am correct he is singing “they want me dead” did leave me wondering if he meant external foes or the inside emotions of anguish (possibly even both?).
“Slaves To Causality” has the sweetest sounding chorus in “are we ever free? Is there more to humanity?” It features a quite incessant riff at points. Again the structure of the songs is very good with moments of light touch to counterbalance the heavier sections. “Leech” for me is one of the major highlights. There is an element of Rob Zombie (or the heavier 90s Alice Cooper albums) in the riff. The chorus is (as is often the case here) really enjoyable and easy to sing along with. It is a song about negative people who leech onto you or abuse you and as a person getting the upper hand over them. Standing strong. Telling them they are beaten and that as a person you have won. The way they go from the heavy “bloodsucker” line to the chorus is marvellous. Live this should be a monster. “The Circus” seems to be about modern social media and the effect on the human condition. Again they use a female voice which seems to be trying to lure you into a trap, promising you how wonderful it is but as the chorus says it is in a way “a new disease” that can hurt and destroy. Of course social media can be a great thing, a useful tool to connect to others, but at its worst can destroy lives. Those who are bullied these days (be it at school or work) often find there is no escape from it even at home.
“Hand Of God” as the title suggests looks at the effect of religion on the human mind and is the heaviest song on the album. LC Decoy uses his voice effectively between his soft and his harsh styles. To follow this they have placed one of the most melodic songs, a ballad, a reflective and thoughtful piece. This is one of the songs that could be read in 2 ways. It could be about a personal relationship looking for love and help, or the person’s own personal reaction to depression. Is he asking himself to get clear of the fog in his mind? This blends well with “Journey Within” which seems to be about coming out of a state of depression. It is a rather upbeat track and reminded me a little of Styx vocally. This is almost a riposte to the previous track giving hope.
“Tame The Tides” is another riff heavy track with a chorus that is easy on the ear. Once again this veers towards industrial territory with a marching effect on the drums at points. The album finishes with “Sunrise Brings Serenity” which could be about the death of the world, a love letter to the planet, yet in the theme of “Human Complex” is more likely to be a cry, a eulogy to a person dying inside. The chorus is almost hymn like and the ending indicates hope and regrowth, the person (planet if you wish to read it as such) can be saved.
The album came as a surprise to me as I expected that it would be more heavy or brutal in nature, and yes it has moments of anger and sound quite savage, but it does so much more. They can write impressive choruses and allow depth and mood to permeate the work. Thoughtful and intelligent but with plenty of headbanging riffs this is a hell of a good album. Very impressed indeed. Was it worth the wait then? Absolutely! This is a band and album that is worth checking out fully.