Red Tape – Radioactivist Review

Red Tape
Roadrunner Records

Red Tape feels like a throw-back band. Listening to the band’s Roadrunner debut, “Radioactivist,” feels like crawling into a Hollywood club circa 1987 and rocking out to whatever dirty-rock band was on the stage.

How exactly the band fits into Roadrunner Records is a bit of a mystery — it isn’t metal enough to fit into the label’s older mentality, not pop enough to fit in with the band’s on the label in the vein of Nickelback, and doesn’t fit in with any of the newer metal acts (Killswitch Engage, Soulfly or Slipknot). In fact, “Radioactivist” has the same punk meets metal feel of Amen’s 1999 self-titled (only) Roadrunner release, except more organized and less noisy and chaotic.

After hearing some of Red Tape’s demo tracks in 2003, I had high hopes for the band’s debut on Roadrunner Records. While initially taken aback by the heavy punk influence apparent throughout Red Tape’s music, the punk edge gives a nice dimension to the band and effectively causes them to stand out from the pack.

Fronted by lead singer and guitarist Jeff Jaworski, the band is comprised of bass player Twig Von Wussow (who also adds backing vocals), guitarist Mark Meraji and drummer JD.

In the band’s official bio, Jaworski talks about the band’s revolutionary vibe: “We’re thrash-punk. The term ‘hardcore’ has changed. We’re hardcore in the early 80s sense. If it were 1986, we’d be a hardcore band. Nowadays, the meaning has changed.”

Upon first listen, “Radioactivist” feels like a punk album — it’s only after you let the music sink in that you start to realize you’re hearing so much more. With only four of the album’s 15 tracks clocking in at anything more than three minutes (and never exceeding four minutes), each song feels like a frenzied, sonic assault. Jaworski’s vocals are enveloped in music heavy with distortion and feedback, yet each song comes across like a sing-a-long anthem reminiscent of Black Flag or Bad Religion.

From the searing, opening riffs of “Damage Control,” to the steady blistering back-beat drumming of “Droppin’ Bombs on Your Moms,” Red Tape seem content to tear through each track with a ‘take-no-prisoners’ attitude.

The disc’s standout track has to be “Stalingrad.” Opening with a killer, semi-distorted bass line that’s eventually joined by an equally distorted high-pitched guitar riff, Jaworski snarls through the verses before the sing-a-long chorus. By the closing repeated chant of “No sleep to Stalingrad!” it’s impossible to not be banging your head along with the band.

Other strong songs include “El Salvador” and “Divebomb” — the former featuring a crazy start/stop tempo that feels more and more frenzied the further you venture into the track; the later focuses on a strong guitar riff that leads listeners down a rabbit hole of anthemic venom of Jaworski singing “No future’s what I see. That’s why I live so carelessly.”

Since the band’s inception five years ago, they’ve shared the stage with the likes of Sworn Enemy, Tsunami Bomb, The Hope Conspiracy and Bleeding Through just to name a few. The constant touring has won over new fans and this latest release is also sure to do the same.