Surrounded, Yet Isolated
The Making of the Red Chord’s Clients
“We will, and have, ruin our sets for a good joke.” Such is the modus operandi of mid-2000s metal pillars the Red Chord, as described by longtime bassist Greg Weeks. An absolute touring machine on the back of their 2002 debut album Fused Together in Revolving Doors, the Boston quintet very quickly made a name for themselves both in musical style and stage presence during some of death metal’s leanest years. Melding high-velocity death metal à la Suffocation, Immolation and Dying Fetus with the more accessible mosh parts of Buried Alive and Madball, the Red Chord were deemed too hardcore for underground metal purists, finding a home in the fast-rising metallic hardcore scene of the Northeast.
And if their music was too divergent with traditional death metal sensibilities, their live shows were downright heretical. A mischievous joy was ever present on the faces of the band as they regularly mocked the crowds they drew. Overly colorful merch proclaiming their love of sandwiches. Ridiculing the bands they were touring with while onstage. Smiling. The Red Chord regularly found themselves to be the odd ones out in nearly every situation, a position they enjoyed with nihilistic glee as their following grew larger with each subsequent tour.
While the band’s first record established their brand of technical death metal, sophomore effort Clients is what announced their presence to the metal world at large. Signing with Metal Blade in 2004 and securing the backing of one of metal’s biggest and most recognizable independent labels, the Red Chord recovered from near self-destruction to release their biggest album to date and help usher in a new era of extreme music that ultimately saved the old guard that so quickly rejected them. And though the band was more than comfortable having a laugh at the scene they called home, Clients showed a deep care for its daring compositions and subject matter. Rather than the glorified violence and misogyny of some of their contemporaries, vocalist Guy Kozowyk focused on his immediate surroundings as a young working man—one filled with inescapable disability, addiction and taboo—to tell the stories of those who largely went unheard, even if he didn’t quite understand it himself at the time.
This final product culminated in a coveted prize from a certain fledgling metal rag: Clients landed Decibel’s first-ever perfect score in our reviews section (May 2005, No. 7). While others were quick to brand the band with the maligned label of “metalcore” or claim the album to be inferior to Fused Together, Decibel scribe Kevin Stewart-Panko writes in his review, “In this day and age of bands developing instant followings by pandering to the lowest common denominator… the Red Chord attained their success by throwing caution to the wind and taking their awesome songs and robust live show anywhere that would host ’em. Truth be told, it’s this quintet’s songs that have made the difference and caused their profile to explode, car bomb-style.”
Tastes may change, but with this induction, our praise of Clients certainly hasn’t. This is it. Guy Kozowyk, Greg Weeks, guitarists Mike “Gunface” McKenzie and Kevin Rampelberg, and drummer Brad Fickeisen, welcome to the Hall of Fame. Come sit down and tell the boss what’s on your mind.
Need more Red Chord? To read the entire seven-page story, featuring interviews with the members who performed on Clients, purchase the print issue from our store, or digitally via our app for iPhone/iPad or Android.