Published Apr 22, 2016Sizing up Toronto metal outfit Red Handed Denial against their musical counterparts Protest the Hero, who hail from right down the highway in Whitby, Ontario, is something that happens all too often when speaking of the Hogtown band's recent work. Specifically, it's the five-piece's tendency to lean towards the technical end of the metal spectrum, and how they combine it with a keen sense of melody, that garners them these comparisons.
That said, it's unfair to simply call them a carbon copy. In not shying away from this influence, they confidently interweave their tech-y and melodic strengths to make their latest EP, Wanderer, a thoroughly rewarding listen. Though each member is proficient in their own right, the twin guitars of Chris Mifsud and Aleksei Perepelitsa are highlight across all six tracks, toeing the line between calculated and crushing riffing with numerous chances to show off their lead work. The true indicator of their chops, though, is the instrumental title track, on which they draw heavily from jazz to close the EP.
Prominent in the band's impressive arrangements is versatile vocalist Lauren Babic, who shifts with ease between cleans and growls at a moment's notice, shining by using her range and vocal harmonies to push memorable choruses, like those of "Manipulator" and "Trespasser," into more powerful, emotive territory.
Though billed as a concept EP that examines humanity's fixation with greed, wrath and lust for power, the lyrical work and sequencing of Wanderer doesn't overtly reveal it as such on immediate glance, but it's a small gripe easily overshadowed by all the other talent on display, and it encourages deeper listening, too.
While easy comparisons to larger-scale acts can be either a blessing or a curse in a world where most artists are trying to stand apart, Red Handed Denial wear their influences well, and will have zero problems shifting into new creative gears down the road. (Independent)