It’s been six years since Red Bee’s Ictus, the striking debut full length that introduced audiences to the Blue Mountains trio’s sophisticated blend of mathcore technicality, groove and melody and in that time the band has moved from a core local following to gracing major stages from Soundwave to supporting a string of international acts. Silent Enemy is a reflection of how that step up has made Red Bee’s music evolve in the same way as Ictus was a step up from their garage era Tool-worshipping self-titled EP.
Never a band to rest on its musical laurels, Red Bee has shifted the focus of their songwriting, with the sweeping, near-Dillinger style techy arrangements taking a backseat to driving groove and melody. This should do nothing to diminish their appeal to fans of their earlier work. Silent Enemy has enough breathtaking music chops to keep the tech-heads more than happy while also being accessible to those who prefer things a little simpler. It’s a win-win situation.
‘Dead Inside’ marks the departure from the outset, the hooky groove a little more prominent beneath the blistering guitar work of Dan Silk, driven by brother Jim’s slap bass and underpinned by Ian Dunn whose technically impressive stickswork never crosses the line of over-playing. That groove element permeates every track, On the title track, Red Bee loosens up on the pace for a more melodic, introspective approach with an almost radio-friendly chug until Silk unleashes an impossibly catchy, technical riff that sounds like two figures smashed together somehow; ‘Better Day’ comes in and reclaims the album for the riff. ‘Lotus-Eater’ goes even further as perhaps the heaviest track, while with ‘Forever’ they both hit the gas and up the melody, pushing their creativity in slightly different directions with each new track.
As the album progresses, one gets the distinct feeling that, as they did with Ictus, Red Bee are presenting short blasts of progressive art as more traditional-style metal tunes, but their skill level makes it appear they are doing the opposite. Silent Enemy is a remarkable achievement from a highly skilled and creative band, one that isn’t afraid to continue to develop and evolve their approach while holding on to a signature sound.