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Red Sparowes - Every Red Heart Shines Towards the Red Sun
Reviewed by Andreas on 18th September 2006
Early in 2006 I went to see Red Sparowes play live. A group of men crowded the stage, picked up their instruments and smiled at the audience of leather bejacketed metal fans. "Hey," one of them said "we're Red Sparowes". At that moment everything kicked loose, the bass pommelling, guitars howling and drums essentially kicking the shit out of everything within 50 metres. I stood there in silent adoration. If that gig could be summed up in a few simple words, those words would have to be "Beyond conception of cool". There were no vocals, just the heavy riffing of one of the most exciting live bands around.
However, that was then - this is now. Red Sparowes' second album deals with China's history following Mao's Great Leap Forward in which the farmers of old should be retrained as steel factory workers, in order to make China a great industrial communist republic. In short, Mao's plan failed, and millions died as a result. "Every Red Heart..." deals with the Leap itself, the cult of Mao and Chinese famine. Song titles like "Millions starved and we became skinnier and skinnier, while our leaders became fatter and fatter" doesn't need too much interpretation. There's the killing of the sparrow who allegedly steals the farmers' crops, only to have locusts eat te crops instead (you know, as sparrows tend to eat locusts). The album's closer perhaps sums up the plight of the Chinese, "Finally, as that blazing sun shone down on us, did we know that the true enemy was the voice of blind idolatry; and only then did we begin to think for ourselves".
Whilst the "Every red heart..." is admirable for its sheer scope and historical context, the music is somewhat lacking. Featuring members of Isis and other bands, Red Sparowes create instrumental rock that isn't quite the typical post-rock, but lies closer to metal. The opening track, once again with an impossibly long title, is the album's most captivating piece of music with its droning bass riff that leads the song into some awesome moods. The closing section is tender and terrifying at the same time. Yet, that is not enough. After having listened through the disc a couple of times, a feeling of wanton remains when the spinning stops.
"Every Red Heart Shines Towards the Red Sun" reaches up to something grand, and occasionally reaches it.
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