A band typically associated with the Progressive Metal and Djent labels, OUTRUN THE SUNLIGHT‘s latest release, Red Bird, demonstrates a band with the strong ambition to break free from these genre constraints and deliver on an album that’s much bigger in scope than anything they’ve written previously. Making it very difficult to pinpoint where exactly this band currently falls on the Metal and Rock spectrum, pulling away from the comfortable mould of their earlier material has resulted in what is easily the band’s most varied, powerful release to date.
Exploring brand-new territory and building upon elements that were only ever touched upon in previous albums, Red Bird showcases a significant shift in musical direction for the instrumental-only, Chicago-based band as they begin to incorporate strong influences of Post-Rock and continue to push the atmospheric, textured highs found on their previous album, Terrapin, even further. Despite this change in immediate style, however, the core sound of OUTRUN THE SUNLIGHT runs deeply throughout as the best elements of their previous albums are re-spun to fit around their much bigger, bolder choice of sound and song structure.
Dialling the progressive side of their DNA several notches higher, the new album comprises of just four songs in total, but at a running time of 30 minutes each track is a lengthy, diverse offering that defies all expectation. The ingenuity behind the writing ensures that the music is anything but predictable as songs build up and soar as they please, hitting frequent moments of euphoria and transferring easily between the record’s numerous flavours with such style and precision. Demonstrating this quality within the album’s opener and title track, Red Bird, it slowly builds up from its spacey, ambient beginnings to heavily layered, climactic moments. Adding an almost shoegaze-like quality into the track that persists and builds across the rest of the record, the song feels extremely spacious as instruments layer up and interplay with the heavy guitar effects, creating a densely-packed sonic landscape. Combining real moments of power with shimmering guitars and beautiful melodies, it’s the perfect opening for an album that capitalises on this sound, setting the scene for what’s to come.
The album’s second track, Synergy, goes one step further and throws even more into the mix – building up slowly once again, this song displays an admirable level of constraint as it purposefully crawls up to one of the many ‘goosebump’ moments of the record. Constantly teasing the listener with an ongoing onslaught of tension, the song quite literally explodes into a monstrous flurry of blast beats as the album’s greatest payoff is fully unleashed. Capturing a stunning contrast that mixes the foundation of a low-tuned, heavy groove with atmospheric guitar melodies soaring over the top, you’ll be left wondering whether you should headbang or cry. It’s at moments such as this, of which there are several over the course of the album, where OUTRUN THE SUNLIGHT comfortably display the sheer range of their talents as the complex layering of styles work together in perfect harmony, somewhat resembling the incredible instrumental work on DEAFHEAVEN’s Sunbather record – a compliment not to be taken lightly.
It’s important to highlight just how inspired this album feels from start to finish. Cramming more into a tracklist of four songs than most bands fit into a full-length release, each track takes you on an incredible journey, and the album as a whole travels across such a variety of interesting styles that it’s hard to not fall in love instantly. This solid execution is particularly evident in the album’s third (and longest track), The Danger of Alignment, a nine minute epic that switches seamlessly from being the heaviest overall track to something far more restrained and relaxing towards the end. Masterfully pulling together the different dimensions of the band with ease, it’s simply a treat to hear the music unfold.
Rounding off the album with yet another breathtaking offering, Remaining in a Constant State of Discomfort continues the album’s trend of throwing further splashes of colour amongst passages of heavier instrumentation, finding the space once again to incorporate flourishes of more relaxed, ethereal material. Bringing the album full circle with its mix of familiar flavours, the album closes with such elegance and style as the layers peel away, leaving nothing more than a lone guitar riff playing off into the distance. Easily one of the record’s most emotional highlights, it’s hard to shake the feeling of hopefulness as it reaches the finish. Putting into perspective the sheer scale of it all, Red Bird transcends a variety of emotions through its thoughtful writing to achieve an album with one hell of a story to tell.
Making every second of the album count, this is an incredibly concise effort that does more than enough with its time to leave the listener completely fulfilled but eager to hear more. Carrying a natural warmth to its sound that elevates the writing to another level, this is a masterful and emotive piece that is telling of a band that’s matured and grown significantly in confidence. Easily the band’s best work yet, Red Bird deserves your attention.
Red Bird is set for release on April 21st via self-release.
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