The Red Chord’s debut, 2002’s “Fused Together In Revolving Doors,” was a very satisfying dose of death/grind/metal/hardcore. The only problem with it was when bands (i.e. Despised Icon, The Acacia Strain, Bleeding Through, and The Black Dahlia Murder) debuted over the next few years, the deathcore scene became kind of glutted, and “FTIRD” didn’t sound that new anymore. So, for their sophomore full-length, The Red Chord completely changed their sound. 2005’s “Clients” is at least five times smarter and more “mathy,” intricate, complex, and unpredictable than the band’s debut. It is loaded with frenetic energy, impeccable musicianshipo (including frantic, searing guitars, and airtight blast beat drumming), whiplash tempo changes, complex polyrhythms, and vocalist Guy Kozowyk’s ultra deep, visceral, inhuman death-grind bellows. As a result, “Clients” sounds something like a mash-up of The Red Chord of old (circa 2002) meets Cephalic Carnage meets Dillinger Escape Plan meets Burnt By The Sun. In the end, this is a very unique, advanced, realized, mature, and confident-sounding album, so there is absolutely no denying that The Red Chord have finally found their niche (the type of music they are supposed to play and are best at).
The band members have clearly improved their own musicianship, because these eleven songs effortlessly flow through innumerable tempo changes without ever sounding forced. But “Clients” is a concept album, which is proof that The Red Chord have also improved their lyric-writing skills. See, each song is a different “client,” or person who suffers from a mental ailment. (The ailments range from schizophrenia to multiple personality disorder to extreme obsessive compulsive disorder.)
“Clients” peels out of the starting gate with tires squealing. Opener “Fixation on Plastics” is a monstrous, skull-shattering barrage of straight grindcore. It is fueled by a rocketing tempo, surging guitars (including lots of pick squeals), jarring, roaring vocals, and thunderous, driving, lightning fast blast beats. Next comes one of the record’s most normal-sounding tracks, “Lay The Tarp,” which is primarily just a groovy, thrashy, chug and churn guitar lead and thumping drum beats. After this, we are treated to the pounding, whiplash rhythm with careening guitar noise of the ripping third track, “Black Santa.” “Antman” is sure to become a mosh pit favorite, because it is an extremely punishing hardcore beatdown with pummeling drums. Then, at less than one minute in length, the title track is a vicious sneak attack on the listener’s eardrums.
Next up is “Upper Decker,” which is probably the record’s highpoint. It blends grindcore with death metal with a superbly peaceful, mysterious, and dare-I-say pretty mid-section (composed of clean guitar strumming over tribal drums) that lulls the listener into a false sens of security. But then, an electric guitar leads comes storming back onto the scene and catapults the song back into very dissonant territory. Moving along, track seven, “Hospice Residence,” briefly flirts with melody and harmony; “Dragon Wagon” boasts a big, swinging, Southern-flavored groove; “Love on the Concrete” is a decisively chunky and almost sludgy tune with a bass break; and “Blue Line Cretin” might be the ugliest song on here. It finds Guy laying down some deep, vocal-chord-straining, full-bodied yells of lyrics such as “I hate you more than you’ll ever know!”
The dust is finally aloud to clear and the listener is finally allowed breathe again when the closing song, “He Was Dead When I Got There,” approaches. The Red Chord clearly took a few cues from bands like Metallica for this song, because it is a very melodic and delicate instrumental piece with an epic running time (it’s almost seven and a half minutes long), and a wealth of sterling melodic guitar leads and gorgeous, docile twin guitar harmonies.
The only downside to “Clients” is that it has so many tempo changes, dissonant sounds, and so few hooks that it is no where near as easy to listen to or digest as “Fused Together In Revolving Doors.” Nevertheless, all math and tech metal fans will eat it up, and with repeat listens, it should become apparent to you that this album does make for multiple immensely satisfying listening sessions.