The Red Chord – Fed Through the Teeth Machine
Rating: 3.0/5.0 – Good, but weak in certain areas
Label: Metal Blade (EU | US)
Websites: theredchord.com | myspace.com/theredchord
Release Dates: Out now!
The Red Chord has been one of the best respected bands that really came out of the metalcore scene a few years back. I’ve got plenty of friends who dig these guys and dig this stuff and I can definitely understand why. For fans of the breakdown and the chug, there are few bands out there who do it with the kind of proficiency and.. well, lack of boringness that The Red Chord have managed to do it with. Fed Through the Teeth Machine is another example of the fact that metalcore has produced some bands that don’t make the metal gods sad inside.
Cut to the chase: evolve or die is kind of the meme right now in the metal scene. Lots of bands are producing lots of records that sound a lot alike and the goal for all bands with talent and drive is to avoid that. Not only that, but no one is making any money and they’re all cutting back to keep themselves on the road. They’re playing it safe and leaning up, while trying their hardest to cope with it. Fed Through the Teeth Machine seems to be a step in the direction of evolving, while still staying true to what they’ve been doing before. The goal is to produce heavy music that can truly dominate the listener and speak to these troubled times.
The Red Chord did a pretty good job of producing a record that was heavy and technical. This album is definitely what fans of the genre are looking for. Blasty, winding riffs with breakdowns offset with melodic guitars that occasionally break through the wall of mathy, borderline amelodic chunk to hook the listener again. Fed Through the Teeth Machine does this well. The riffs are heavy, smart and technically deft. The drums are in your face, though irritatingly over-produced (as is now the way in Rome) and the vocal approach is great, a smart blend of death metal growls and hardcore screams. This is a good album for the most part. The tracks are tight, pretty well-composed and generally short enough to hit you hard, but long enough to keep you on your feet.
But honestly, this style needs more variation. The general feel of this album is “done before,” and while there are definitely high points, this record is indicative of that fine line between death metal and “core” that is personally frustrating for me. There are riffs on here that are amazing death metal riffs, technical riffs and melodic stuff that I love. When these guys get moving fast, rocking speedy staccato passages, I’m on board! The opposite is true when they get too slow and chunky for me. I find the slower passages to be repetitive and unnecessary. They don’t feel fresh, they don’t make me interested to listen to more and they offset the best parts of the songwriting.
I also find the production to be indicative of the times, but the drum sound is particularly annoying on this album. I’m not sure how many of my readers are familiar with the band Fleshgod Apocalypse, but I think they produced one of the finest albums this year. However, their album is marred with less than satisfactory drums because of the drum machine tone that permeates every crevice of the album. The Red Chord has a real drummer and their album still sounds like that. The drums have been replaced to hell and what should be a tight backbone is a lot more like a science fiction robot spine. Obviously fake.
When all is said and done, I think this record has room to grow on me. There is some fantastic stuff on here that, particularly as the record heads towards its close, stands out against the backdrop. The best track on here is easily “Mouthful of Precious Stones,” which I encourage everyone to listen to. Fans of the band and the genre will probably be pleased with the record and I suspect its getting rave reviews all over the place. But I think that The Red Chord and I have some artistic disagreements. So I give them credit for it, but there are too many flaws for better than “pretty good.”