They’ve invented their very own brand of music (SID-metal) and now been signed to a major label (Spinefarm Records). As evidenced by our extensive interview (available here), classic C64 tune “reboot” heroes Machinae Supremacy are heading for great things; is this album to send them into the metal stratosphere?
For those who pine for that unique 8-bit touch: this 14 track LP is a wet dream. From the very first riff, a mid-range fretboard assault snaking its way through the initial verse of the titular track, Machinae Supremacy set our their SID-metal stall. The crackly military-style chatter which bookends the album opener is a knowing nod to material on previous (and independent) albums; we’re in familiar territory and we’re going flat out from the off.
Force Feedback doesn’t slacken the pace, that trademark tremulous SID sound skittering over the thick roaming riffing, broken only by a catch-your-breath interlude hosting a Japanese dialogue incantation (a particular Machinae Supremacy motif) before the revs pick up again to carry a full-throttle guitar solo to the song’s conclusion.
Rocket Dragon continues in the same supercharged vein, all-too appropriately given its title, before being succeeded by a pretty savage attack on selfishly needless morbid introspection in Persona. For those who are wont to dismiss the band’s lyrical dexterity, this is a track to disprove those naysayers. Some of the album’s finest solo twiddling and fret-tapping quickly follows on Nova Prospekt, all marshalled by a pummeling dual bass drum refrain that drives the song forward with the unstoppable tonnage of a runaway freight train.
A distinctly Metallica-esque instrumental interlude (that’s Metallica up to the Black Album, naturally) is an intriguingly short and enigmatically sweet lead-in to the album’s breathless stand-out track: Shinigami. Ruthless riffing, SID sprinkles throughout, staccato drum peals, galloping bass, machine gun vocals, key changes galore; everything that there is to love about this particular brand of metal is encapsulated in one super-strength 4 minute opening to ending stranglehold.
There’s a nod to Terminator 2 hidden away in the bowels of the stop/start Cybergenesis, bass-heavy sections balanced out by a wah-wah solo and an interwoven harmonious twin guitar melody that is oddly affecting. The SID intro gets the full beans on Action Girl before the freewheeling sprawl of the tongue-in-cheek Crouching Camper Hidden Sniper in which the devotion of gamers is deconstructed with riffs that rise and swoop more often than a rollercoaster and some witty wordplay. This, after all, is a band undaunted to cover Britney Spears (Gimme More topped off with SID-style trappings) on previous album Overworld, proving that even turds can be polished to such a glean of which Mr. Sheen could only dream.
A withering broadside on kill-happy gamers wrapped up in the perky sarcastic punk of Indiscriminate Murder Is Counter-Productive is all-too easy to pass by on a first listen. The sneering vocals come perilously close to consigning the track to the “skip” button but a little perseverance to see through the snide exterior of the song’s central character and the playful nature of the lyrics will be revealed. Definitely a reward for pressing that “repeat” button after all.
Proceedings change tack markedly in the closing stages of the album with the crunchy riffing taking a back seat to some lengthy slabs of monolithic power chords, the kind of searing symphonies you’d want Hans Zimmer to scribe should Ridley Scott have the presence of mind to strap him to a SID station. More mainstream? Certainly. Is that such a mistake? Certainly not.
Machinae Supremacy’s most focused album to date is also the most eclectic, many of the band’s disparate influences coming to the fore to dispel any notion that they’re bound to the very niche that they’ve single-handedly built. The soaring One Day In The Universe will go down a storm at concerts, perfect for inciting the massed ranks to pogo, especially in tandem with The Greatest Show On Earth, a SID-buttressed paean to the social interaction of the online generation. Last but not least is Remnant, a fitting footnote which references March Of The Undead from some of the band’s earliest work on the C64 scene.
Robert “Gazz” Stjärnström has neither the sonic boom of a Bruce Dickinson nor the scabrous snarl of a Dave Mustaine. However, he has no interest in being anyone other than himself; to this end, the excellent production aids his very particular gnashing vocal delivery and even supports a hitherto untapped range with that voice rasping into a cracked plaintive whisper on The Greatest Show On Earth.
Hardcore metalheads who languish at the extreme end of the spectrum might wish for something a bit more sludgy and rough around the edges but that’s a churlish aspiration: Machinae Supremacy know what they’re aiming for and, good heavens, they do it very well indeed. At 14 tracks for an album, it’s generously good value too.
Machinae Supremacy website: http://www.machinaesupremacy.com
Machinae Supremacy Myspace page: www.myspace.com/machinaesupremacy
Machinae Supremacy Facebook page: www.facebook.com/machinaesupremacy