February 11, 2010

The Red Chord - Fed Through the Teeth of the Machine

I have come to the conclusion that there is only so much grind/death/extreme metal music that you can listen to before going quite insane. Well, either that or just burn out on the sound completely. I think I may be reaching a stage of said insanity. It is not that I have lost my taste for it or that I have heard too much, I am still very early in my cycle of discovery. What I am saying is I have been listening to a to of this sort of stiff over the past couple of weeks and I thirst for some variety. I don't even require genre changing diversity, just an album that does not blend together after a few listens. The latest from The Red Chord has found me teetering on the brink of the abyss. Fed Through the Teeth of the Machine is threatening to push me over the edge.

My first exposure to The Red Chord came about a year and a half ago. They were headlining a local venue and I was there to see Overcast. Of course I stuck around for the whole show and got my first taste of the grindcore/deathcore/death/technical (however you want to describe them on a given day). I was impressed but did not fall in love. They clearly have the skills to deliver a punishing dose of music and the crowd certainly loved it. However, I cannot say I was inspired to the point of wanting to get any of their music. With this album now in my hands and my experience broadened, I am not sure my opinion has changed.


My first pass through the record did not offer up much of a positive experience. The 12-song collection just seemed to blend together into one 35-minute trip into sameness. It just did not stand out as an album. Then I began to listen again, then again, and one more time. Something was definitely happening with each pass through. The album began to take shape somewhat. The focused guitars, the off-kilter style, the random squeals and chord bends began allowing the songs to take shape. The bass began to stand out, particularly when listening through headphones. Usually the bass is the first instrument to disappear, here it helps thicken the sound and add a new flavor to the whole with some runs in the background. The drums and vocals still threaten to merge the album into a single song, but they were hardly bad, but not the best of my experiences.

The album kicks off with some wailing notes fading in before the full brunt force of "Demoralizer" kicks in. The title is quite telling, as it will beat you into submission. It is not a terribly great song, but it is fast, pummeling and softens the brain in order to receive a little of what is to come over the next half hour.

Fed Through the Teeth of the Machine is stripped down, finely focused tour-de-force that has its goal and goes for it. As my listenings allowed The Red Chord's mission to come into better focus, one thing became very clear. The is a showcase for the skills of Mike McKenzie, also known as Gunface. Simply put, the man has put on a career performance. The band used to have two guitarists, but with one member leaving and not being replaced a space was left for Gunfce to step up and show the full breadth of his abilities.

Songs to focus on: "Hour of Rats," "Embarrassment Legacy," "Floating Through the Vein," "Mouthful of Precious Stones," and "Sleepless Nights in the Compound."

Bottomline. My initially extreme-weary approach was won over by the commanding performance of a single man, the man known as Gunface. I still cannot say I love the album or the band, but I cannot deny what I heard in the guitar work. Multiple listens exposed the album for what it is, considerably better than the first would lead you to believe. I am sure you already know if you are a fan or not, I just urge those on the fence to give it its due. I am glad I did.


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