The Porcelain Throne: The Red Chord

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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.

Clients (2005)

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:

Stop shooting.
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 tohthrone@gmail.com.

(images via)

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  • Sid Vicious Promos

    I wish these guys would reform.

    • Óðinn

      “Reform”? Are they criminals? 😉

      • Sid Vicious Promos

        I wish they’d reunite. I realized reform wouldn’t sound as good.

  • Señor Jefe El Rossover

    Stellar writeup here, Jimster! I can feel your enthusiasm for the band

  • BOBSON DUGNUTT BOBSON DUGNUTT

    My last memory of Red Chord was a tour video where they are at a red light, and some kid dressed in karate garb is holding his bike waiting to cross, and Greg Weeks yells “NINJA BIKE” really loudly.

  • sweetooth0

    Always dug on Red Chord, basically a more deathgrind approach to the “mathy” stuff Dillinger was doing. I think they often had the rotten luck of Metal Blade sticking them on tours with straight up metal bands, and they got a lot of flack at shows for being the “hardcore band” on the bill (also doesn’t help when they’re fans rush the pit and start pulling ninja moves and shit). I saw them on a 25th anniversary Metal Blade tour with CANNIBAL CORPSE, THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, THE RED CHORD, GOATWHORE, and AEON and they stuck out like a sore thumb. Most people at the show flat out ignored them and went to drink beer.

  • atchdav

    I listened to Fused Together in Revolving Doors a couple times a day, everyday, for a few years following its release. It’s still one of my favourite albums.

  • Great write up Jimmy, TRC ranks among my very favorite all time bands and I got to see them play 3 or 4 times. They always put on a great show. Anyone who’s ever seen them live knows that you sing along to the words, “It’s not gonna be alright, it’s not gonna be OK”, on this track.
    https://youtu.be/k4P96ARjrP8

    • Waynecro

      YES!!! When I saw The Red Chord at the Summer Slaughter Tour many, many years ago, a bunch of dudes from the other bands on the bill came out and sang that part of “Dreaming in Dog Years” with the band. I distinctly remember Tosin Abasi from Animals as Leaders stomping around the stage and screaming into various mics.

  • HessianHunter

    You would like the band with a cop for a singer, McNulty.

    Story time via a Bostonian I crashed with once – shortly after Guy Kozowyk got sworn in as a Boston police officer, a Red Chord fan with a crush on Guy went to the local precinct station and the following occurred –

    Young Woman: “Is officer Kozowyk in today?”

    Policeman: “No, he’s not working today. Why are you asking?”

    YW: “Well, there’s a warrant out for my arrest and I wanted him to be the one to take me in. I’ll come back tomorrow.”

    Police: “Actually, you just told a group of officers, inside a police station, that you have an arrest warrant, so you are in fact under arrest. Right now. Thanks for your cooperation”

    • Rain Poncho W.

      HA!

    • BOBSON DUGNUTT BOBSON DUGNUTT

      Police must love it that people are that stupid.

    • HessianHunter

      He’s also had to bust up house shows and he gets mercilessly heckled every time.

      • BOBSON DUGNUTT BOBSON DUGNUTT

        A friend of an internet friend’s had a story about Guy. They were hanging with him and some other band dudes. My internet friend’s friend’s friend was passing out joints to some of the band dudes and goes “Hey Guy, can I light you a joint?”, to which Guy responded. “There will be the lighting of nothing.”. It all makes sense now.

    • GL

      You think Guy is his real name or a nickname? Seems like the latter?

      • HessianHunter

        “Guy” is a birth and in some parts of Europe. Guy Picciotto (from Fugazi) is his birth name, actually pronounced “gee” with a hard “g”

        • GL

          hmm neat! Thanks

      • Dumpster Lung

        There’s also the actor, Guy Pierce, who’s been in some great movies.

        Memento >>>>>>>>>>>>

  • Depechemodeisgangsta

    Funny story for me, so my friend used to work at Wynn dixie and across the street there used to be a little club called “The Alley” and most Fridays they used to have shows, but i would ask my friend what kind of people would show up (he is not big fan of music), that way i can have a better idea of who was playing, i believe this was just as Myspace, was starting, so there was no page where to check the shows.
    So i call him on a Friday and i asked how is the crowd and he said, man there is a bunch of guys with fairy wings on, so he says i think is like a gay show, so i decided to pass on the show, next Friday i showed up and ask one of the guys, hey who was playing and he responds,The Red Chord, Bury your dead and A life once lost.
    But i was able to see The red chord on ozzfest, but i would have love to see them play in the small club much better.

    • Marcel D

      Used to go to the alley all the time. Good unrelated story– Once went to see Remembering Never at the Alley when “For th love of fiction” was released, with one of my boys. And being the sober little high school fucks we were, we decided to chew a bunch of tobbaco for some reason before the show. Ended up puking all over the entrance. Cheers.

  • atchdav

    Sixteen Bit Fingerprint is my favourite track by far

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmLQ9GkkBhs&list=RDpmLQ9GkkBhs

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    Fused Together… was pretty decent. As others have already put, it’s basically the chaotic math-metalcore of bands like Dillinger, Botch and Converge with some more deathgrind in the sound and a bit less of the “atmosphere” and experimental traits of the aforementioned bands. Not bad, though it’s been years since I last listened to the album.

  • GL

    Saw them in 06 at Ozzfest. Dope. They were heavy heavy heavy then.

    GL

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuRq4G__ayc

  • Dental_Damnation

    I think if they had longer hair, more tattoos and wore black more consistently they wouldn’t get lumped in with the deathcore crowd. It’s sad, but prolly true

  • Waynecro

    Nice fucking work, McNulty! I really dig this band’s music and sense of humor. I really don’t understand all the deathcore accusations The Red Chord gets.

    • Depechemodeisgangsta

      I think it was just the “Time Period” that 2005-08, and they did a bunch of tours with the “Metalcore” bands, which at that time, all the tours were the same groups.

      • Waynecro

        Yeah, it was probably more image/guilt by association than anything else, because, to me, the music hardly sounds deathcore.

        • Depechemodeisgangsta

          To me their tempo was super fast, but probably most people only heard or saw the video for “Antman” and people probably liked the “Breakdown” and they got stuck with it.

    • thx bud, that means a lot coming from you! (plz ignore grammar errors)

      • Waynecro

        If I weren’t on a big Arkaik/Archspire kick right now, I’d blast The Red Chord in the gym this afternoon!

    • Dumpster Lung

      I always thought they were deathcore, but I hadn’t really listened to them until maybe 1-2 years ago in a friend’s car. He had told me that The Red Chord was “the only good deathcore” or “deathcore that actually doesn’t suck” and I took his word for it, but still never really checked ’em out until he popped in a CD and I heard maybe 1-2 tracks from it. I was surprised that I liked it, but I still never followed up.

      But listening to their stuff now, I definitely get it. The breakdowns and moments like that do really sound deathcore-ish, but just very briefly. So I could see maybe hearing the wrong song and going “oh ok that’s what these guys are about.” Listened to a couple tracks from the debut and thought “this is not bad at all” but didn’t really get hooked.

      I’m listening to Prey for Eyes right now though, and I’m really liking that one a lot more. I’m gonna spend some time with all their stuff, though.

      • Depechemodeisgangsta

        I think Prey for eyes is their best CD, but check out, Fed Through the Teeth Machine, it might not be as intense as Prey for eyes, but is still good, i also like that their sound is not always the same.

  • lagerbottoms

    I fucking loved these guys too. Can’t even pick a favorite album. Back during my Deathcore days I was a slight fan of Fed Through The Teeth Machine, but given that The Red Chord are definitely not Deathcore, they were a little too intense and complex for me.

    When I got really much into Mathcore 4 years ago, I fell very in love with Fused Together… Of course I had to buy their whole discography on CD shortly after and I’ve been listening to every release a lot and I like them all.
    Prey For Eyes is probably the one I have listened to the least so far, so I’ll definitely give that one more attention now 🙂

  • Seb

    The Red Chord are one of those bands i’m most gutted about having never seen, Got into them with Clients but Fed Through the Teeth Machine will always be my favourite. Hour of Rats is hands down the best song.

  • A haj

    Unpopular opinion: TRC were/are deathcore, they’re just doing it good.

    • Dumpster Lung

      One of my best friends is of that opinion, and from what I’m hearing today (I never dove into their stuff at all), seems like maybe that is more the case with older stuff, but maybe less as time goes on? I don’t know, but I do know that I’m digging Prey for Eyes a lot right now.

      • A haj

        Yeah, true that, their later albums are far from deathcore, but especially Fused Together was the essence of what deathcore should be: mixing None So Vile-era Cryptopsy with breakdowns and other hardcore stuff – the riff after the chaotic intro of Nihilist could be in any early Agnostic Front song. I mean, i understand that most deathcore outputs are utter shit, but they clearly lack the creativity that TRC or Embrace The End or Camilla Rhodes had, so i don’t understand this “Nah, they’re not deathcore” denial.

  • NefariousDude

    Rip in peace Red Chord

  • Lone Biker of the Apocalypse

    ‘Clients was a concept album inspired by Kozowyk’s day job working at a pharmacy, where a number of disturbed and eccentric individuals would come in regularly to refill prescriptions, with each song telling the story of a different “client.”‘

    http://www.billboard.com/artist/418958/red-chord/biography

    Jimmy – this could of made the concept tourney!

  • Psycold

    Not sure if you realized it or not but these lyrics,

    “Stop shooting.
    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!”

    Are actually dialogue directly from the show Trailer Park Boys.