REVIEW: Red Ribbon Army – Idealism [EP/2016]


Artist: Red Ribbon Army 

Album: Idealism – EP


Often, we think of things as they should be rather than how they truly are. We cling to comfort in the form of notions that the world around us can be willed with enough conscious effort to succumb to our perception of how it ought to exist. But the hard truth is that the world is cold, hard matter—and no amount of idle hoping and praying can change that. Rather, it takes action and energy—an impetus for change—to create tangible difference in our day to day lives—and Brisbane-based progressively-infused melodic hardcore act Red Ribbon Army know it all too well. Idealism gains it’s name from its own existence—a manifestation of heavy-yet-melodic music as we all assume it should be. Intense and energetic, yet passionate and beautiful all in one fell swoop, Red Ribbon Army’s latest EP sees them changing mind to matter, working tirelessly to forge a towering testament to Australia’s already impressive reputation to heavy music.

Instrumentally, Red Ribbon Army combine heaviness with energy and emotion to create a melodic, murky and groovy experience that sounds almost like a more straightforward version of the UK’s Napoleon. Idealism is founded atop a sturdy layer of stellar drumming by Rangi Barnes (who does triple duty in deathcore act Tomb of Doom and punk act Pandamic). Barnes bustles hither and to across his kit, dominating with equal parts bouncy, catchy percussion and brooding, brutal aggression. From the first dancy two-step of “A Distant Sensation,” Barnes’ energy is apparent, and he absolutely refuses to slow down. Whether it’s the same upbeat candor in “Forgotten People” or his much more aggressive side shining through on “Spirits of Concentrated Hatred,” Barnes is a rambunctious, relentless force that propels Red Ribbon Army forward. However strong Barnes’ drumming is though, he has a constant shadow in the form of bassist Kris Gosley. Gosley’s grooves trace Barnes’ every kick drum hit, adding depth and punch to the breakdowns in “A Distant Sensation” and “Spirits of Concentrated Hatred,” yet serving as a fluid transitional aide in the epic “The Idealist.” Gosley’s greatest contributions are subtle—as he rarely steals the show—but his support of Barnes’ drumming provides a full-bodied low-end for guitarists Alick Preston and Jack Van Rynswoud to work atop. Preston and Van Rynswoud are an incredible team—grooving and chugging throughout “Spirits of Concentrated Hatred” and the groovy intro to “Forgotten People,” yet providing crystalline, clean fretwork during the progressive anthem “The Idealist” and the serene “Valley of Lagoons.” Together, Preston and Van Rynswoud are dynamic, riffing one moment and chugging away the next, with every second sounding completely natural, as if it were a continuation of their own spirits.

Where Idealism is musically moving, both upbeat and unstoppably heavy, the band continue that dynamic with their vocal approach. Frontman Jarryd Gertz—aided by bassist Gosley—provides an emotional and energetic performance that is reminiscent of Counterparts or Hundredth in its amalgamation of scathing intensity and poignant passion. Gertz’s screams are shrill and sharp, cutting through Red Ribbon Army’s instrumentation with ease, ringing in the listener’s ears. “Forgotten People” sees Gertz at his most diverse, opening the song with a pitched scream that roams from harsh mid-range brays to razor sharp shrieks towards the song’s dancy conclusion. Gertz’s lyricism often mirrors his vocal approach—raw, emotional and relatable, telling stories of his own shortcomings as well as depravity and depression on a global scale. Where more diversity from Gertz would be welcome on future endeavors, his relatively monotonous voice doesn’t get in the way of listeners attempting to enjoy Idealism, as it only becomes apparent after repeated listens.

Red Ribbon Army’s breakout EP is just as strong as their band name might imply (those who are unsure of the reference would do well to bone up on Dragonball). Idealism takes melodic hardcore and progressive metalcore how we imagine them and blends them together with little fault. Where Gertz’s slight vocal monotony pervades throughout the entire EP, it remains a solid showing, especially as the band are relatively young. Emerging from the depths of Australia—a continent with more than its fair share of absolutely incredible –core influenced music—Red Ribbon Army stand apart from the masses with Idealism, a sturdy, punchy and powerful display of metal and hardcore that will move your body as readily as it moves your heart.



For Fans Of: Napoleon, Counterparts, Hundredth, Erra

By: Connor Welsh