The Red Chord engages a sensory onslaught with their new Metal Blade Release Prey for Eyes. A sprawling enigma, the album traverses nightmarish soundscapes with mind-bending time changes, gnashing guitars and schizophrenic vocals. Guitarist Mike “Gunface” Mckenzie couples bludgeoning riffs with haunting chord passages. Brad Fickeisen furiously propels the tracks with demonic double bass drumming as Greg Weeks bolts down a rhythmic freight train. Vocalist Guy Kozowyk is the ringmaster of this sonic horror show. His lyrics delve into the psyches of insane inmates, anarchist recluses and gods with a vengeance for pop music. This is dangerous and thought provoking music that transcends genres. This is Prey for Eyes.
The Red Chord have been crafting intriguing heavy music since their independent debut Fused Together in Revolving Doors in 2002. Combining elements of grindcore, death metal and hardcore, that release established them as one of the premier Massachusetts extreme metal acts. In 2005, Metal Blade released the follow-up Clients, a tortured concept album about mental patients, drug addicts, the homeless and the desperate and downtrodden. While they decimated crowds worldwide touring with the likes of Gwar, High On Fire, Between the Buried and Me, Unearth, Every Time I Die and Hatebreed, as well as stints on OZZfest 2006 and Sounds of the Underground 2005, “Clients” established The Red Chord as innovators in the burgeoning underground metal scene by staying away from the cliché trappings that crippled some of their contemporaries.
In early 2007, the band began constructing Prey for Eyes with producer and engineer Eric Rachel (The Black Dahlia Murder, Atreyu) at Trax East. The record is an immense evolution from Clients. Guy states, “Every song on the new album, for the most part, is a sketch of something that could probably take twenty minutes to explain. It’s similar to Clients since every song has a backbone that could’ve been a story. However, Clients was based on this closed environment where I was working. While writing this album, I was all over the world meeting people. So Prey for Eyes is based on dreams, conversations, books, random instances and occurrences. There was also a lot of different ground that I wanted to cover in terms of these weird, trippy dreamscapes and real crazy shit I’ve thought of for a long time.” In order to tell these tales, Guy has also fine-tuned his voice like a weapon, destroying with an intelligible, distinct scream.
Heightening the dynamics of the record, Nate Newton from Converge guests on “Tread on the Necks of Kings” and “Responsibles”, while Jonny Davy of Job For A Cowboy adds a distinct vocal madness to “Pray for Eyes” and “Prevailed.” The guest appearances create a deadly vocal diversity, which compliments the intense fret work. Guy continues, “We have a lot of mechanical changes, but Gunface was definitely hell-bent on throwing in these melodic soulful parts. The riffs can be incredibly abrasive and frightening, but they also have emotion, personality, soul and feel as well.” Add to that the intricate cover and packaging layout by Paul Romano (Mastodon, Chiodos, Through The Eyes of The Dead), and The Red Chord have a dangerous new record on their hands.
Ultimately, the stories remain central to Prey for Eyes. “I don’t want this to be one of those bands that will just be forgotten. I feel like I’m a writer before a vocalist. My writing has always been pretty solid. With this genre, there’s a lot of repetitive themes and material. I wanted to really break the mold on that. I just want this band to stand out and do something different, and I feel like we achieved that.”
BY RICK FLORINO