Last Red Ransom – Sleep Well Sweet Vanity
Last Red Ransom
Sleep Well Sweet Vanity
Time to get out of our comfort zone for a bit and explore a genre I know very little about. Or more precisely, an album featuring a fusion of popular genres I know very little about, namely industrial metal and nu-metal. My few run-ins with industrial metal have included forays into Peter Tagtgren’s Pain and a little bit of Ministry. They were both OK; Pain had a few good songs but I didn’t care for their latest album. As for nu-metal, my experience of this genre is fairly limited to old – and the key word here is old – Linkin Park, which I quite liked and in fact one of the bands that set me on the path to loving metal. (What’s happened to Linkin Park since Meteora is a post for another time, methinks).
Last Red Ransom, the pride of Atlanta, Georgia, play a melodic mixture of industrial metal and nu-metal, though front man, who goes by the name Saint, seems a little reluctant to classify the band, which is co-fronted by Charlotte Kelli, AKA C.K., who sings and also plays keys and guitars. Their debut album, Sleep Well Sweet Vanity, came to me via a colleague, and on the first spin, I was an immediate fan.
The short story: I love this album.
Why I love this album is a more complex story, but I can boil it down to a few elements. For starters, this music is aggressive – in fact its some of the most aggressive music I’ve listened to in any genre in a long time. It’s angry, it at times seethes with an undercurrent of fury, while at the same time those aggressive tendencies are balanced with simple, catchy, and effective melodies that balance the sound out. These are mainly achieved by the use of keys and C.K.’s vox, which contrasts starkly with Saint’s harsh screams, though he also sings in a clean voice that is very sensual. The guitars, drums, and bass create that sense of fury and anger, too, with pounding, punishing sections that just made me want to jump up and move to the music. Note: no dancing, right? I said “move.” I love it when I get a physical reaction to music like this.
The other main element I loved about Sleep Well Sweet Vanity was the lyrics, which deal with all kinds of themes including politics, religion, and relationships. A couple of standouts lyrically were the opener “Seamstress” where we are introduced to Saint’s very sexy clean vocals.
Stitch these scars and take nothing
But leave your mark
You are a king’s ransom
Showered in gold
A confession and touch sealed in smoke
A fleeting phantom out like a ghost
Black on black
It’s February cold
Then there is “Black Gospel”:
Take your sermons to your grave
You’re no savior, just in the way
Spare me your sermons again
As if you even know how the story will end…
…You are the over-spoken, we are the undersold…
I could go on and on. Despite the synthetic sounds, the little hip-hop-ish grooves here and there, and the slightly Slipknot-ish vocals, I can’t say there was any song on this album I disliked. There is even a cool instrumental called “Passport” which gives us a break from that aggression and provides an calming melodic interlude. Something about the music – the aggression, the sensuality, the lyrics, and the hookiness – really spoke to me. It was the right music for the mood I was in at the time, and now I’m hooked. Not that I’m about to go and listen to a bunch of Slipknot or anything, but this was a great new musical adventure for me that I was very grateful for. For a genre that is not really anything I listen to that often, I thought Last Red Ransom was a great find.
Allyson’s rating: 4.25 out of 5