By Adrien Begrand
One thing that truly sucks about having to review a Red Chord album, especially in this day and age of digital advance copies (a fancypants term for measly MP3s), is the writer’s complete inaccessibility to lyrics. The fact is, Guy Kozowyk is one of the cleverest wordsmiths in metal, and whether he’s painting vivid character sketches on 2005’s brilliant Clients or quoting the Trailer Park Boys on 2007’s Prey For Eyes, once you open that CD booklet, the album becomes that much better once you learn just what in the hell he’s hollering about.
That said, when we writers are deprived of that essential part of the Complete Album Experience, it forces us to focus on the actual music, and this being a Red Chord album, that’s never a bad thing. So while we’d love to be able to commend the good Mr. Kozowyk on another exemplary display of poetic prowess, we have to just say, “Sorry dude, we can’t understand a word you’re saying, but ye gods, do the other three guys destroy on this sucker.” He could be growling the minutes of a PTA meeting for all we care; the music’s that strong.
Reduced to a mere four-piece following the departure of Mike Keller last year, the band’s approach is much more streamlined than ever before on Fed Through the Teeth Machine, the eleven songs a lot less “busy”, the absence of a second guitar apparent within moments. However, that’s not to say guitarist Mike “Gunface” McKenzie, bassist Greg Weeks, and drummer Brad Fickeisen have made a lot of sacrifices in the brutality department; they’ve just become better songwriters. The psychotic grind/death/core hybrid of “Demoralizer” is brilliantly paced, with an inventive breakdown riff followed by a spacious, Isis-like melodic interlude before returning to drilling blast beats into our heads. “Embarrassment Legacy” audaciously treads the same well-worn path of Lamb of God, mid-paced groove followed by swift thrash passages, and trounces that band at their own game. McKenzie’s riffing is all over the place on “One Robot to Another” as the rhythm section holds the fort, while “Sleepless Nights in the Compound” brings the typically strong album to an unexpectedly brooding conclusion. As for Kozowyk, we know his lyrics will push this record over the top, but from a musical standpoint, this is as strong as the Red Chord has ever sounded.