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Untitled by Beat The Red Light

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Reviewed on 7th February 2010.



By Beat The Red Light

The original run of Beat The Red Light's debut EP sold out while the band were on tour, but this five-track effort is now being re-released into (hopefully) wider circulation, with a little help from Manchester-based not-for-profit label TNS Records.

Beat The Red Light are a predominantly ska-punk band but - as is hardly surprising for followers of TNS Records - these guys bring something new to the ska genre. Namely, the inventive instrumental. Each song on this five-track effort starts off in a completely different place musically, and then gradually and seamlessly evolves into the familiar ska-punk stomping-ground of shunting chords and piping brass. The result is five 'typically ska' songs, approached from five very different angles.

'Never A Dull Moment' opens the EP with a subtly brooding, mid-paced chug, before easing in the occasional horn. The guitars then kick it into second gear, the horns become more frequent, and the whole thing loosens into the cheerfully shambolic, ska-punk rabble you expect from the genre. It's a refreshingly outside-of-the-box approach to ska, which sets out to dispel the misconception that ska-punk is a musically static and restrictive genre.

Once the opening minute is out of the way, there are plenty of shunting chords for fans of dyed-in-the-wool ska, but these are mixed in with well-worked and original flourishes. In addition to the introduction, expect a surprisingly lyrically accomplished bridge section that just may well tug at your heart strings; a rousing, military-tinged instrumental and an end-section of metallic riffing, beneath a veneer of tootling horns - all of which breathe new life into ska.

The fusion of traditional ska and imaginative instrumentals continue with 'The Luminus Way.' Although the instrumental does take a while to find its groove, once it gets there, expect a raspy, riff-heavy judder ricochetting off piping ska horns. It's a smart and snappy exchange, and Beat The Red Light clearly know when they're onto a good thing, as this weightier riff rears its head throughout the song, striking the occasional dark note amongst the otherwise upbeat clatter. But, the real treat is at the end, as Beat The Red Light make a complete u-turn into hardcore, and drop a breakdown into the final segment of the song - complete with pummelling drums, bloodthirsty vocals and, um, horns. While this may sound like a musical nightmare, Beat The Red Light coax long, tormented wails out of their brass section, which proves to be a surprisingly good fit for the hardcore breakdown. Who would have thought it?

'The Scene Is Under Attack' and 'White Collar Pride' are the EP's weakest moments in terms of putting a fresh spin on a largely static genre. 'The Scene Is Under Attack' is the worst offender. It opens with some hunkering metal riffing, and features a mid-section sing-along of impassioned vocals and lyrics that have an intriguingly obscure slant to them. However, the remaining 80% of the song is solid, but conventional, ska. The main body of 'White Collar Pride' is of a similar 'standard-ska' ilk. Thankfully, before it gets settled into its comfort zone, we get a burst of eclectic, scratchy guitar-picking that brings a brief, exotic flavour to the Beat The Red Light experience, and puts it a notch ahead of 'The Scene Is Under Attack.'

Thankfully, this record reclaims its former glory, with EP-closer 'Send In The Clowns.' This track strikes up a metallic note, as a ragged guitar line shrieks and stutters across a chuggy metalcore backdrop, before - surprise surprise - Beat The Red Light bring in the twitchy ska chords and piping horns. But, it isn't content to work its way deeper into that cosy ska-punk rut, as the whole thing periodically collapses in hardcore spasms of tangled riffs and snarling vocals, before pulling itself together and continuing as if nothing has happened. It's these quick flashes of originality that keep 'Send In The Clowns' exciting and fresh.

In typical TNS Records style, Beat The Red Light put their own spin on the ska formula. The opening minute of each song on this EP pushes the boundaries of what's possible within the ska-punk genre and, if they don't push the boundaries to the extent of other bands on TNS' enviable roster, then this is still more original than 90% of ska currently being churned out.



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On 14th February 2010 at 10:55 Anonymous 7618 wrote...

Beat the Red Light are awesome - such an energetic and entertaining live band. A must see!
100% 5/5 from me!



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