It's not very often that a band that has zero backing behind it sweeps in and just monopolizes my listening time. Generally, bands like Red Reign get 30 seconds as I quickly scan through their music and I'm on to something else that I'm getting pressured to review by a publicist. For Red Reign, I was asked to review this as a favor for my Classic Metal Show co-host Neeley, which quite honestly is the only reason this one ever hit my player in the first place. Good call on his part though, as it's been the only disc in my player for days now. CHASING SHADOWS is a hard rocker full of nasty guitar driven metal that falls somewhere between the heavier Van Halen songs and a bunch of the better modern metal stuff out there today. Red Reign has quickly become a band that I need to know more about.
The thing about CHASING SHADOWS is that it doesn't fall neatly into any of the preconceived genre packages that you might look to classify it as. For some people, they might call it "Classic Metal". That certainly could work for melodic rockers like "Not This Way"; a song that definitely adopts all the classic elements like a huge hook and perfectly harmonized gang vocal choruses. That said though, songs like "Toxic" throw you completely off that scent with it's much more modern vocal approach and musical style.
Listening to Red Reign, vocalist/guitarist Carlton McMichael jumps to the forefront as the leader of this band. His voice is clean without sounding dated, and his guitar playing is about as good as any unsigned rock guitarist I've heard in awhile. While he's clearly a disciple of Eddie Van Halen, it's equally clear that his pallet has been fleshed out with everything from '70s era Blackmore through modern era crunch that is recognizable without having a figurehead player to hold it's mantle. McMichael literally steals songs like "Helpless" with the combination of his pained vocals and his ridiculously crunchy riff that drives the song. McMichael is not a solo act though, as he's perfectly complimented by an underbelly created by bassist Larry Moore and drummer Sammy Lee. This rhythm section is every bit as responsible as McMichael for creating the groove that dominates songs like "Chains".
PITRIFF RATING - 92/100 - Red Reign may be a little known unsigned band from Richmond, Virginia, but they rock. CHASING SHADOWS is one of those releases that will fill out your release and have your friends going, "damn, who is that band" when you play it in your car. Do yourself a favor and find out for yourself. These guys rock. Check them out at www.redreignrva.com.