The Red Chord
Fed Through The Teeth Machine
Metal Blade Records
27 October 2009
by Mike Strata
Amongst the hordes of glowering, sour-faced “deathcore” bands, The Red Chord have always stood out – as much for being eminently likeable as for their incredibly technical blasts of feral noise.
So much so, in fact, that to tag them with the “deathcore” label is to do them a massive disservice – the music of The Red Chord has always towered above the lumpen, de-tuned mess served up by bands like Emmure and their ilk. The band have been plowing their own furrow with a truly compelling fusion of death, grind, tech and straight up hardcore for the best part of a decade now, so it’s with a fair amount of anticipation that their fourth full-length, Fed Through The Teeth Machine, is greeted.
One thing that is clear from the off is that this album is heavy. Really really fucking heavy. Opener ‘Demoralizer’ is essentially a minute and a half of blastbeat-driven chaos, with vocalist Guy Kozowyk sounding more brutal than ever. This leads into a spacey, swirling guitar interlude which provides the briefest respite before the listener is hurled headlong through the neck-snapping last 40 or so seconds of the song. It’s an awesome start, and the pace rarely lets up over the next 35 minutes. Long-time listeners will appreciate how the band have refined their sound over the course of the last few albums, this is nowhere near as raw as the material found on Fused Together In Revolving Doors, The Red Chord circa 2009 is a much sleeker beast.
Part of this progression is the band’s renewed focus on groove, the rhythm section of Greg Weeks and Brad Frickeisen lock together tighter than a couple of lovelorn teenagers in an unfortunate orthodontic mishap – witness the midsection of ‘Embarrassment Legacy’ for proof, if ever it were needed. Even more incredible though is what guitarist Mike “Gunface” McKenzie brings to the table; not only is his playing a veritable masterclass of styles and techniques, but every flourish of his plectrum is so tightly synchronized with Frickeisen’s octopus-like drumming, it sounds like what T-1000 would play if only he’d stop killing people and focus a little more on his music.
Watch Greg Weeks from The Red Chord dicking about at the Maryland Deathfest
If there’s one criticism that can be leveled at the album, it’s that it sometimes gets hard to differentiate between tracks. It’s perhaps that The Red Chord try to cram too many riffs into each song, sacrificing memorability for technicality. That’s not to say there aren’t some fantastic riffs on this record, but the ones that seem to stand out the most are the ones when the band slow down a little bit and give the listener time to breathe. The endings of both ‘Mouthful Of Precious Stones’ and ‘Sleepless Nights In The Compound’ are memorable in that they bring some repetition and an epic quality to proceedings. It’s telling that ‘Dreaming In Dog Years’ from the band’s first record is perhaps their most loved song with its refrain of “It’s not gonna be alright, It’s not gonna be OK”. But maybe The Red Chord don’t want you to sing along, maybe they just want to bludgeon you to within an inch of your life with their vicious, beautiful noise. They do do it pretty well, after all.
Sounds like: The end of days
Top tracks: Demoralizer, Mouthful Of Precious Stones, One Robot To Another
The Red Chord – Fed Through The Teeth Machine tracklisting
Hour Of Rats
Hymns And Crippled Anthems
Tales Of Martyrs And Disappearing Acts
Floating Through The Vein
Ingest The Ash
One Robot To Another
Mouthful Of Precious Stones
The Ugliest Truth
Face Area Solution
Sleepless Nights In The Compound