Humble Beast (April 5, 2011)
Review by Matthew K.
“You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come” (2 Timothy 3:1). This verse could sum up the prophetic message Alert brings forth in their Red Opus .45 EP. This project is a short but passionate burst of zeal for the greatness of the Lord and the less-than-satisfactory state humanity currently finds itself it. Alert unashamedly proclaims these things with a palpable yet not overpowering edge.
The EP starts off with “All I See Is Red,” a high-energy track that artistically revolves around the color red. Using this method Alert identifies a world wrought with deceit, greed and ultimately alienation from the divine. This is truly a track, which those in the faith could rally themselves around. This strong start to the EP is followed up with a solid track in “Red Vapors.” Themes of calling and evangelism arise here, issues any listener in the faith could identify with in their own terms. Unfortunately the creative element of wordplay present in the first two tracks is sacrificed for an approach that primarily utilizes observation in the final two (with the third track of the EP being an interlude where Alert is not heard from). Though his zealous spirit remains consistent, the latter half of the project seems to decline creatively. This is not to say, however, what Alert has to say is invalid in these tracks. He continues to proclaim what he feels he must, yet in a way that is more straightforward than it is artistic.
An interesting issue arises upon listening to this project – that of sectarianism (i.e. a “us and “them” approach to the content of the tracks). This is the approach Alert takes with the issues he addresses in their music, and it is not one that is to be either commended or condemned. It should be noted that listeners should be aware (not “beware”) that this is in fact the dominant theme of the EP that has no real counterbalance within itself. There is a time for all things, and the Red Opus .45 EP is a time where this type of voice must be present, a prophetic voice that Alert confidently provides.
The tracks evidence beats ranging from energetic to experimental. As it went with the progression of the lyrical content of the EP, so it also goes with the progression of the instrumentals. The first two tracks offer some solid, well-crafted beats to support some clever lyrics. After the interlude of track 3 the beats take a turn for the mellow and slightly experimental. The final two tracks contain beats characterized by slower tempos, the presences of different guitars, and more soulful choruses. While they are nothing bad within themselves, they don’t seem to match up to Alert’s spirit of zeal as well as the beats in the first two tracks did.
If the body of Christ is composed of many parts that serve many different purposes, Alert does well in offering a strong member to the whole. The prophetic voice present in Red Opus .45 EP is an integral contribution to the whole body, without which this spiritual body could not be considered complete. While the message here is potent, some more creative approaches to the content could really take it right to the heart of the listeners.
Those who have ears, let ’em hear.
For fans of: Humble Beast, Timothy Brindle, Stephen the Levite, The Cross Movement