MetalSucks Gets Fed Through the Red Chord’s Teeth Machine

  • Axl Rosenberg

Only history will tell us for sure, but I suspect that The Red Chord’s 2002 debut, Fused Together in Revolving Doors, will end up being regarded as one of the most influential metal records of its time. Its title is truly appropriate; it’s not a death album, it’s not a grind album, it’s not a hardcore album, it’s basically just a “play whatever the fuck we want album.” There are now hordes of bands aping it, and most of them are doing a shit job.

Meanwhile, three albums, seven years, and a whole bunch of line-up changes later, The Red Chord are just as uncompromising and self-assured in their vision. I have no idea what a teeth machine is – apparently it has something to do with zippers – but Fed Through the Teeth Machine certainly makes me feel as though that’s exactly what I’ve experienced.

This album is HEAVY. Like, kill small animals in the back yard heavy. If Jaws listened to metal before he tooth-raped some poor girl’s innards, this is what I think he’d listen to – this is hunter’s music.

But more than just an excuse to punch the wall until your knuckles bleed, Fed Through the Teeth Machine is a challenging album that requires your full attention. The Red Chord don’t make background music. Like Pig Destroyer or Converge, The Red Chord’s music is novelistic and impressionistic; you probably won’t be able to fully wrap your head around what you’ve just heard after a single listen. Teeth requires your full attention. Guy Kozowyk remains one of modern metal’s great poets;  his lyrics alone demand that you engage with the music.

Then there’s the rest of the band. The Red Chord used to be a quintet; now they’re a quartet. With all due respect to Mike Keller and Kevin Rampelberg and whomever else I may be forgetting, it doesn’t seem to have hurt them one bit. There’s places where they cheat a little and pretend like they still have two guitarists, but it’s not egregious; plenty of awesome four-pieces throughout history have used the same trick.

And besides, with all due respect to the always and forever awesome Greg Weeks and Brad Fickeisen, who both do a characteristically excellent job, guitarist Mike “Gunface” McKenzie is the album’s real all-star, and I’ll take as much of his playing as I can get, thank you very much. He sounds more nimble than ever, and while I’ve always really dug his solos, he’s stepped up his game here – they all absolutely slay. The solos in “Demoralizer” and “Mouthful of Precious Stones” are truly fucking EPIC, while the one in “Hour of Rats” has a melancholic, almost oddly classic-rock feel. And “Embarrassment Legacy” is fueled by what is easily one of my favorite riffs of the year.

Oh yeah, also seems worth mentioning: the band self-produced this bitch.

The oft-heard lament around the MetalSucks Mansion as of late has been “HOW THE FUCK ARE WE GOING TO DO YEAR END LISTS?!?!” There’s just been so much great metal this year. And lemme tell ya, Fed Through the Teeth Machine ain’t making my life any easier.

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