Redshark – Digital Race Review

Continuing the trend of covering things I don’t normally cover, I traveled at the speed of light metal to Barcelona, where I encountered an angry, ‘roided-out shark wearing nothing but bullet belts and cargo khakis that barely contained his quads. His name is Fred, but his friends and enemies just call him Red, for short. My first encounter with Red looked much like the scenery depicted to your left. Specifically, there were many explosions, gunshots, cacophonies of glass and cigarette-stained plastic shrapnel, and the sweet sound of skulls succumbing to ruthless whirlwinds of ignited ammunition.1 Such was the nature of the first in what is sure to be an extensive series recounting Red’s explosive exploits, entitled Digital Race. By the end of the work week, there was only rubble and the intoxicating stench of shark sweat staining the air. It was then that I knew I was taking Red home with me.

After spending some good, old-fashioned quality time with Digital Race, I realized that speed metal ain’t half bad. Spain’s Redshark offer many of the same typically heavy and speedy attractions that made Bütcher and early Metallica so appealing. Moreover, they explore a wide variety of songwriting practices to expand the scope of their nascent catalog, even including a classic Pantera-esque power ballad (“Pallid Hands”) pulled straight out of 1990. But at its core, Digital Race represents speed of the highest octane, the pedal mashed against the metal at all times. Riffs that rip off faces; choruses that carve into the crinkles of my brain; gang shouts that boil blood; rousing solos that are scientifically proven to reverse aging; and a refreshingly tight runtime of thirty-nine minutes; it’s all there for the taking.

Hooks abound on Digital Race, all of which play a critical role in making the album a certified hoot. The strongest cuts have scarred my mind for weeks now, unwilling to rot away with the passage of time. “Never Too Late” sounds like a heavy metal rendition of a Journey hit, and the combination of speedy guitar work with infectious vocal lines makes for a genuine stadium killer. On the subject of killing, “Kill Your Idol” attacks with an innumerably recitable chorus, exhibiting lyrics eerily reminiscent of Smokey Bear’s trademark catchphrase.2 “Digital Race” is one of those wonky thrashers that isn’t a great song but that boasts one seriously cheesy vocal line/riff combo, which makes it impossible to resist and even impossible-ER to forget. That’s the magic behind Digital Race. It doesn’t matter if it’s great, because it’s just too energetic and infectious to put down.

Unfortunately for Redshark, I am literally paid forced under duress to examine more deeply than base enjoyment, and Digital Race doesn’t entirely survive such scrutiny. “Burning Angels” is a particular weak point, wherein I blame the voKILLS as the primary detractor. Normally, the shrieks and wails that pervade the record are fueled by vigor and booze,3 but here they are flat and bizarrely unenthusiastic. Rarely is it the case in heavy metal that a vocalist sounds strained in the lower end of their range, but this is one of them. It’s doubly odd, too, because “Pallid Hands,” featuring one of the strongest vocal performances on the album, follows immediately after. Otherwise, the biggest criticism I have is that Digital Race proffers oodles of fun but nothing everybody hasn’t heard before and likely better. It wasn’t long ago that folks on this site raved about the latest Warbringer album, for example, in most cases because it transcended nostalgia and brought a dying genre roaring back to life with wengeance. In the same damn year, 666 Goats Carry My Chariot made the same, if not even greater, waves. This album, sadly, can’t compete with those stalwarts.

Outside of one especially sour song, there’s hardly anything wrong with Digital Race. Especially considering this is a debut record, Redshark nailed the target sound and attitude, then elevated the fun factor to a level that most modern bands fail to approach. It’s unlikely to be a frequent flyer in my roster, but I do intend to keep it in rotation when the need for speed inevitably resurfaces. Fans will love it, newcomers might dig it, and naysayers will say nay as expected. Those guys are idiots, obviously, but even Red can’t please everybody. But he pleased me, and that’s all that counts!

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Listenable Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: March 25th, 2022

Show 3 footnotes

  1. I like this guy. – Steel
  2. “Only YOU can kill your idol!”
  3. Which, in some circles, are essentially the same thing.
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