Red Sparowes: Every Red Heart Shines Towards the Red Sun

Red Sparowes' hour-long epic Every Red Heart Shines Toward the Red Sun is split into eight sections but is best experienced as one long and oft-anthemic journey. Many ‘instrumental rock' albums incrementally build towards their first peaks; this second full-length by Red Sparowes' flouts convention by opening with bass-driven thrust and raw guitar crunch, the group hell-bent on flattening everything in its path at the first available opportunity. Incidentally, the group's name doesn't originate from Chairman Mao Tse Tung's late-‘50s order that China's sparrows be exterminated in order to maximize production, a move that resulted in crop decimation by locusts and a subsequent famine that killed 43 million of starvation (though the album itself was inspired by such events), but from T.S. Eliot's Preludes: “And when all the world came back / And the light crept up between the shutters / And you heard the sparrows in the gutters / You had such a vision of the street.”

Not surprisingly, the quintet's three-guitar attack dominates throughout, with immolating six-string choirs screaming and howling but then just as quickly dropping to a hymnal whisper. Though there are intermittent episodes of graceful calm (in particular the piano-laden interlude “And By Our Own Hand Did Every last Bird Lie Silent” whose quietude almost startles when it appears after 40 roaring minutes), what you'll remember most is the shredded, apocalyptic roar the group generates during the album's most throat-slashing moments.

October 2006