Review Summary: Fed Through the Teeth Machine is a dynamic, speedy interpretation of the Red Chord's signature sound. Also, really good.Fed Through the Teeth Machin
promised a faster, more straight-forward Red Chord. Losing their second guitarist and promising a more streamlined sound could have meant a narrowing of their scope. Less technicality, less personality. More anger, sure, but at what cost? Fans could have been worried. Here's hoping they weren't. Fed Through the Teeth Machine is
faster and it is
more straightforward, but it's hardly a compromise. Instead, it's their best since Fused Together In Revolving Doors
What stands out on Fed Through the Teeth Machine
is The Red Chord's ability to streamline their relatively spastic sound without dumbing it down. The album emphasizes their death metal influence, but it still gives Gunface room to flex his creative, unorthodox playing style. Though they're down to only one guitarist, you'd never know it. That's in part because Greg Weeks' bass playing has never been this prominent. It's not that he's shredding unrelentingly (or at all, really), but you can really feel his bass and it has a presence like never before. It allows Gunface to dynamically interplay with the lower end and, in turn, helps develop a groovy underpinning the band hasn't really had in the past. That's the dynamic that makes Fed Through the Teeth Machine
such a promising listen. It's a contrast. The faster, sharper songs hook you in but the interplay between members add subtle nuances really makes it special. There's more to the contrast than just harmonizing, though. While they've streamlined their sound, focusing more on the punch than the technique, their virtuous side still shines through. Brad Fickeisen could have phoned in his performance on the drums. He could have done what most extreme metal drummers do: trigger the shi
t out of his snare and kicks and blast away. It's not to say that there aren't moments of unrelenting speed, but for the most Fickeisen has flexed his creative muscles in ways not typical to the genre. He's managed to throw fills and patterns into the dissonance. He's sped up without slimming down. Again, that's a narrative that carries throughout.
Speedier cuts like “Hour of Rats” (which features some of Fickeisen's best work yet) and “Demoralizer” kick things off, but the album doesn't exactly gallop along at a single pace. While Fed Through the Teeth Machine
does display The Red Chord at their fastest, they still make it a point to slow things down when necessary. “Ingest the Ash” revolves around slower, almost sludgy crawls. At times, the song actually sounds like it's melting. But it ends up better for it. “Mouthful of Precious Stones” similarly employs bridges that, in using Gunface's wobbly distorted guitar-playing, sound like a gloomy, sullen take on John Williams' infamous Jaws
theme. It also teases the listener with what could have been one of the band's first “legitimate” guitar solos. It doesn't get that far, but the tease is probably better than the reveal and it's that playful style of songwriting that's gotten the Red Chord where they are.
Fed Through the Teeth Machine
is a culmination of everything the band has worked towards. Calling it more straightforward might be unjust, as it's as unrelenting as ever. Instead, you might say it's more focused. It's certainly as heavy as ever, in part because of Guy Kozowyk's gut-punching vocals (and the occasional help he gets from Gunface's guttural burps), but also because they've found a happy medium between showing off and smashing face. On a busy October 27th release day, The Red Chord take top honours. A fitting end to the month we've come to call 'Rocktober'.