Review by Shannon Shumaker
Strong bass tones, deep guitar work and captivating harmonies set the tone for December In Red’s The Way Out almost immediately, and it’s the eerie quality of sound and interesting musical choices that makes you stick around. The first track on the album, “The Call,” isn’t necessarily a song, but more of a suspenseful intro - perfect to set the mood and grab your attention, keeping you on the edge of your seat, wondering what the rest of this album will bring. And when “The Call” transitions into “Hooks and Splatters,” it doesn’t take very long to figure out what December In Red is all about.
The strongest aspects in “Hooks and Splatters,” as well as the entirety of the album are the deep bass tone and the perfect vocal harmonies. The sound is reminiscent of late 90’s - early 2000’s alt-rock with really low, deep bass and fuzzy guitars, and it absolutely works. The guitar work later in “Hooks and Splatters” is incredibly strong as well, though it is a little hidden and muddied by the fuzziness in the tone of the song.
A great example of the strong vocal work is in the third track on the album, “Send Me A Postcard.” While the guitar and bass work is definitely strong, (especially in the chorus) the vocals and harmonies are captivating and absolutely carry the track. That being said, though, “Send Me A Postcard” does flow very well. While the vocals are the strong point of the song, that’s not to say that they outshine the musical work.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the sixth track, “Corduroy.” Easily the longest track on The Way Out, clocking in at just over seven minutes long, “Corduroy” is musically one of the strongest tracks on the album. Again, the strong bass work is something that is hard to come by nowadays - the tone is flawless and the musical choices that December In Red make in this song are perfect. On top of that, the vocal work is definitely still strong and helps carry the song and keep a listener captivated all the way to the end of the long track.
Following “Corduroy,” though, I found it hard to choose another big standout track. I think that is the only downside on The Way Out. Save for a few tracks in the beginning of the album, there aren’t very many stand-out moments. While, as a whole, the sound on the album is absolutely strong and solid, there just aren’t very many “wow” moments. The reason for this seems to be in the tone of The Way Out - much of the album seems to stay on the same level vocally, musically, and even production-wise. The only track that really stands out from the pack in the second half of the album is “Hadouken,” which is arguably one of the strongest tracks on the album and definitely one of the most versatile. “Hadouken” goes from a more hard-hitting beginning with unclean vocals, to melodic cleans to a rapping verse, all the way back to screams. Vocally and musically, “Hadouken” is one of the strongest tracks on the album and is absolutely the saving grace of the second half.
Despite it’s flaws, though, The Way Out is absolutely a strong release for December In Red. It’s hard to ignore the theatrically in this album - from its suspenseful intro, to instrumental “The Borders,” which ties the middle of the album together, all the way to “The Fundamental,” which closes out the album right before the slow final track, “Don’t Look So Surprised” comes in. If December In Red have mastered anything, it’s their ability to keep a listener captivated. While their sound honestly isn’t something I’d normally go searching for, they managed to keep my attention throughout the entirety of The Way Out. If that doesn’t speak miles about their ability to write interesting and captivating tracks, then I don’t know what does. By the time that “Don’t Look So Surprised” (which is another strong, versatile track) fades out, I’m more than interested to hear what December In Red do next.
Listen to "Hadouken"