2. That Certain Special Ugly
4. Like A Train Through A Pigeon
5. He Was Stretching, And Then He Climbed Up There
6. Breed The Cancer
7. L Formation
8. Dreaming In Dog Years
9. Sixteen Bit Fingerprint
2002 Robotic Empire
Hype. It can either make or break a record, depending on whether the artist and its music live up to it. The Red Chord's debut full-length on Robotic Empire generated a lot of hype prior to its release and, as a result, a lot of anticipation. But it was all worth it, because The Red Chord delivers a blistering album, combining elements of death metal, grindcore, and hardcore. Think Burnt By The Sun meets A Life Once Lost.
Where to begin The Red Chord has a perfect mix of technical guitar work and crunch, coupled with plenty of changing tempos to keep things interesting. The opening track, "Nihilist," is a perfect example. The song is relentless in its break-neck speed, only slowing down for some transitions, as well as vocal, breakdown, and sludgy passages mixed in. "That Certain Special Ugly" starts off slower, but is accompanied with rapid-fire drumming. Meanwhile, the guitars display some math-like patterns, similar to Burnt By The Sun or Botch, and then close with heavy crunch.
Honestly, the band mixes so many styles and techniques together, it'd be difficult to describe them all, whether it be single-note picking, quick chord progressions, palm-muted riffing, guitar squeals, breakdown riffs, or straightforward music, varying from slower tempos to blazing speeds. But don't let these descriptions fool you; the band hardly stays with a particular riff or line long enough to get repetitive or boring. The music is complex and constantly shifting, but it meshes well together. Surprisingly, The Red Chord throws an instrumental in the middle of the album to show it has a softer side, or perhaps to throw listeners off. The song, entitled "He Was Stretching, And Then He Climbed Up There," exhibits eerie, somewhat melodic guitars that are accompanied by noise and percussion, giving the track a bit of a tribal feel. "L Formation" has some nice clean guitars to mix things up, but is overshadowed by its grind counterparts. Brief piano and riding drum interludes give "Dreaming In Dog Years" a jazz feel, but then the frantic and chaotic guitar lines take over. The final cut, "Sixteen Bit Fingerprint," closes with feedback and screams after a barrage of grind.
Musically, these guys are pretty tight, but I can't help but feel that guitars lag the drums by a fraction. Now, this may not be a big deal with a slower-paced style of music, but when playing grindcore at a rapid pace, it becomes more noticeable. Nevertheless, the members of the unit are quite competent in their instruments and roles. The singer has some of the most guttural growls, the guitars are complex, and the drumming particularly stands out, just because it's so insanely fast. In terms of the record's mix, the only complaint might be the bass, which seems to be drowned out. The production values are just right though, giving the record a smooth sound.
The layout of the insert is simple. A handprint, the band's logo, and the album title against a white background. Inside are black and white photos of what look like the interior of a burnt building and fires, as well as song lyrics.
Bottom Line: This album has the word "Buy" written all over it. Grindcore and extreme music fans will definitely be pleased with this one. The musicianship is solid, and the music is complex and on par with many of the forerunners within the genre. What's even more frightening is that this band seems to be relatively young. Expect even better things from this unit in the future. Kudos should also be given to Robotic Empire for putting out this record. They've had a number of solid releases and are on a roll.