So what happens when a promising young punk band signs to a major label? Sisters Of The Red Death. This is Vendetta Red's sophomore album on Epic and sophomoric it is. The band's sound which showed all the signs on their debut album has completed that transformation here and headed straight for radio format. There's a dangerous cliff path all bands have to navigate when signed to the majors, that of gaining commercial accolades without becoming completely generic and slipping down the rockface, and although the sound here is generic albeit quite melodic and radio friendly, the lyrical content is not generic at all and so it doesn't seem very attractive radio fodder. Confused band or confused label or an attempt at something so unique that it is at first overlooked?
The mix on Sisters Of The Red Death is typical of the marketable alt-rock genre, overly compressed. It seems to me that Chris Lord Alge would have been an excellent choice for the mix if the evolution of a band is what the label desired, he is (or was) the master at capturing tones and those subtle nuances that make an album stand out.......not here, but perhaps that was how producer Howard Benson wanted it. Other than the vocal production, which is excellent, the bass is almost non-existent in the mix and while the drummer shows talent the mix could have done more to showcase it. Outside of that there's really nothing exciting here guitar wise, a succession of chords that sounds like it was patterned after Nirvana but ends up sounding like any other alt-rock band playing alt-pop-rock on the college circuit. Zach Davidson does show a lot of talent vocally and while the format of the songs became a bit monotonous towards the end his vocals never did.
What's most interesting about this band is that feeling that they just might turn out to be an attractive specimen when they get done with their awkward growing phase. (If the label chooses to develop them that far). This album is very ambitious to say the least. It's a concept album, with each song a chapter, and if the imagery portrayed on the graphic design (excellent graphic design by the way) is a clue then we are dealing with Greek mythology. The end result strikes me more like a Steven King novel however. It's scary how normal the sound is and how horrifying the lyrical content that goes with. Perhaps that's the point, life does at first seem so incredibly normal until you take a close look at all the horror. Unfortunately the graphic design actually held more imagery for me than the full on blunt descriptive designed to shock in this elaborate tale. On the overall the feeling was one of listening to them striving for something and though cheering them on they just didn't quite get there. Lyrically this band are either very intelligent, or trying really, really hard to seem intelligent. I guess we'll have to wait and see which one it is when/if they come back with a Junior album.