Seeking to find that elusive balance between heavy and hypnotic, Seattle-based hard rockers December in Red serve up a high-octane sophomore album in “The Way Out.” It’s a solid effort from the band, though the 11-track slab falls short of essential.
“Our style ranges from ambient to bludgeoning,” guitarist Dan Gardner explains. “There’s a minimalist approach in that we don’t try to overcomplicate things. At the same time, every song has its own vibe. There are no frills or gimmicks. We are who we are.”
Thankfully, Gardner is the focal point of much of “The Way Out.” He’s a splendid axe man and his riffs are what make the album — and the entire band by extension — worthy of your attention. Del McGeachy is a serviceable vocalist, but Gardner is what sets December in Red apart.
After spacey instrumental “The Call” opens the set in middling fashion, December in Red find their groove with standouts “Hooks & Splatters,” “Send Me a Postcard,” Pelican,” “Hadouken” and “Don’t Look So Surprised.” Metal-tinged rock isn’t my normal cup of tea, but December in Red do their thing better than many of their peers. (Jeffrey Sisk)