The Porcelain Throne: The Red Chord
Oh, how I really want the boys in The Red Chord to stumble upon this article and consider talking to each other about something like, I dunno, brainstorming a few ideas that they’ve each been cooking up on their own. Maybe this will plant a little seed in someone’s mind that could potentially grow into some sort of meeting-of-the-minds to rekindle a few of those oh-so fond memories of playing in what happens to be my favorite heavy metal band…PERIOD!
Younger metalheads arrived to the scene after this band was a band and older metalheads might have skipped them because they certainly possessed sonic elements that could improperly be labeled “deathcore”. Yes, I know a few of you are shuddering at that thought, but think about this: would your favorite detective have given them the title of “favorite metal band” if they were deathcore? Heck no! …Or perhaps you fall within the same generation that I do and also stumbled upon this wacky combination that I shall call hardcore-infused deathgrind (not deathcore). From One Robot to Another: it’s the Porcelain Throne featuring The Red Chord!
Fused Together In Revolving Doors (2002)
There are death metal riffs, there are grindcore riffs. There are black metal riffs, there are hardcore riffs. The Red Chord is band who, rather than create a hybrid of those four sub-genres, perfected a cocktail which contains excellent riffage from each of them. This is what we might call a “riff salad”, but the highest quality riff salad in the world. Hit play on this album and what you’ll hear in the first second of track number one (“Nihilist“) is a spastic Dillinger Escape Plan-like display of chaos. There is no easing into this monster of a debut record, and they were confident enough to start the entire thing without some unnecessary ambient or acoustic introductory track that has become so common these days. There are frequent switches between styles, mainly grindcore and death metal. And while yes, they’ll throw in some hardcore-like transitions (not necessarily breakdowns, but close) I do solemnly swear it’s not deathcore.
I’m not in love with this album. Many fans are, and a few even claim this one to be their peak, so I give it respect. This is by far their most chaotic record, their must unpredictable — which does say a lot for their level of talent! There are a billion tempo changes on here, many of them more abrupt than necessary; the whole thing feels to me like a band overflowing with potential, who just had to fine-tune what exactly they were trying to do to impact the heavy metal community. FFO: Botch, Dillinger Escape Plan, Napalm Death.
This is where I discovered the band. A few years into this album’s release I stumbled upon an hilarious video in which a band member was stealing his friends’ sandwiches and throwing them in the nearest trashcan. It was brilliant, as was the music! Here was a band that embodied the chaotic nature of old Dillinger Escape Plan but used a hell of a lot more death metal and grindcore riffs. There are a few anthemic vocal lines thrown in with just the right amount of melody (not like the sing-songy choruses found in metalcore, mind you), for instance every Red Chord fan will know this segment from Antman:
Is this everything you asked for?
This is all I have.
Is this everything you asked for?
This is all I am.
They get weird too, a little progressive even. The band is experimenting with song structure even moreso than before, especially when they incorporate a few melodic portions. Songs like “Upper Decker” veer into melodic territory, whilst being book-ended by grind riffs. If this was just a run-of-the-mill hardcore-infused deathgrind band, they would be doing a great job on this album, but The Red Chord have crafted something special with Clients. There are ten extremely well made songs and a final 7+ minute instrumental epic which ends it all on a bittersweet note. It’s a Five Flaming Toilet Emoji album for sure, and a difficult one to top.
Prey For Eyes (2007)
…and top Clients is exactly what they did. The album starts out with an effects that sounds like vinyl spinning up from resting point and then they hit us right in the face with some breakneck riffing in the minute-long “Film Critiques and Militia Men”. This song bleeds right into “Dread Prevailed” which swaps flirts with metal sub-genres grindcore, sludge, and perhaps some good old fashioned hard rock during the guitar solo – a relatively new ingredient in the band’s recipe. Coming in a track four is the best song of their career, “Send the Death Storm”:
The instrumentation is spectacular all around, with tempo changes being thrown out every couple of minutes. As I mentioned before, they’ve added a few extra guitar solos to keep things fresh, and also there are small flourishes of progressive rock thrown in at strategic points. Title track “Prey For Eyes” could have easily ended after the two minute mark, but it transforms into a rather beautiful instrumental … I don’t know what to call it, it’s weird and strangely gorgeous. Lyrically there is a ton incredible prose to digest, for example towards the end of “Responsibles” vocalist Guy Kowozyk demands of you:
Someone actually hurt here.
Stop shooting someone’s actually hurt here.
Don’t make me take off my pants.
GIVE ME A CIGARETTE.
I’M HAVING A HEART ATTACK.
…WHERE’S… MY… FUCKIN’ BBQ? I KNOW YOU HAVE IT!
Following “Responsibles” are two choice cuts that include grind ‘n roll a la Napalm Death in “Midas Touch” and their most death metaly riffage in “Tread On the Necks of Kings”. Then we have four minutes of dorky instrumental sci-fi (including generous use of keyboards and a classy guitar solo) called “It Came From Over There” that I will claim is their answer to Rush’s “YYZ“. Great song is followed by great song, it’s almost pointless to pick favorites here. Prey For Eyes is a masterpiece, a somehow better Five Flaming Toilet Emoji record than Clients. To me, this album is perfect in every way.
Fed Through the Teeth Machine (2009)
The Red Chord’s [current] swansong could be considered a classic, but to me it’s just not the game-changer that was Prey For Eyes. It’s a great record, containing the same intensity and quantity of high quality riffage… just without all the pieces of flair that really made the previous album stand out from the crowd. One might call this their most focused effort to date, with 12 tracks that best resemble individual songs in structure and in style. Having said all that, “Hours of Rats” and “One Robot to Another” include the catchiest riffs you’ll ever hear from the band; while tracks “Embarrassment Legacy” and “Mouthful of Precious Stones” venture into melodic rock territory for longer periods than we’re used to hearing from them. This album ends with a slower-paced track that serves as a great outro that, if it turns out to be the final song of their entire career, does a great job of easing the listener out of the chaos. Fed Through the Teeth Machine matches the quality of Clients, so while still a great album, it just can’t match what came before it.
The Red Cord were/are an extremely competent band performing a hybrid of death metal and grindcore, but definitely not deathcore, and they have a near-perfect batting average. There are more amazing riffs in their career than there are stars in the sky. They wrote four albums that are great or fantastic; and who knows, maybe we will get a fifth one day! The Internet makes it really easy for people to connect — when they might be separated by long distances — and toss around ideas that would normally just be kept to oneself. Social media platforms like Google+ and the Disqus section of heavy metal blogs allow for people to come together and exchange ideas quite easily. Just sayin’. Anyways, tell us all of your Red Chord related stories and post your favorite song.
Thanks for letting me hijack Porcelain Throne! If you want to entertain us with your knowledge of a band, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.