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Tuesday 5 July 2022

Reviews: The Machinist, Blood Command, Organectomy, Horizon Ignited (Reviews By Matt Cook & Matt Bladen)

The Machinist – All Is Not Well (Prosthetic Records) [Matt Cook]

The world has been unquestionably devolving into a toxic cesspool of shit. That’s neither a hot take nor a new recent revelation. The political wrangling that killed countless anti-vaxxers; the seemingly endless slew of mass shootings in schools; the literal world burning while another white cop murders an unarmed black person in cold blood only to be exonerated by the “justice” system. 

The Machinist don’t sit idly or quietly while despair envelopes the planet both literally and figuratively. All Is Not Well can barely contain the vitriolic ferocity spewing from Amanda Gjelaj’s mouth. It’s a masterful display of concise bitterness churned out in the only way it can be: by way of grainy, jagged, forcefully aggressive music. The quasi-nihilistic declaration immediately erupts with an ACAB anthem (PIG). From there, the anger only further metastasizes. Mother Earth arguably was penned by Greta Thunberg; Hourglass reminds all about the stark reality that inaction is tantamount to complicity (“Life is just an hourglass / the more you wait the more will pass”). Retail therapy isn’t even safe from the barrage. The titular song demands you “Surrender to all your luxuries / to cover your despair.” 

Certainly, there must be some silver living, right? Not until the elites are replaced and the hierarchy is completely shifted. “Monsters in the system / hiding in the shadow looking for another victim.” And that could be the most damning and the most bitter pill to swallow. Greed, power and inequality is human nature. Wealth will always upend society in horrendous ways. “Wars, lies, selfish motivation / Humans are weak, disgusting mutations. If you believe hundreds of thousands of other intelligent life form exists (and has existed) alongside humanity, maybe it’s easier to throw in the towel and admit defeat: humans tried and failed. We are past the point of no return. Crucially, all is not well. 8/10

Blood Command - Praise Armageddon (Hassle Records) [Matt Bladen]

So here's an odd one! The new album from death-pop band Blood Command was recorded over the course of three years and then re-recorded with new vocalist Nikki Brumen (ex-Pagan) before finally being released. I'd not heard anything by the band before, but had heard the name, so I approached it with an open mind and open ears. What I got was a strange mix of hardcore bluster, emo sneering and bubblegum pop rhythms, Brumen's vocals perfect for the 2006-2008 emo/post hardcore bubble. (Though that seems to be making a comeback!) 

The band have released 4 EP's and 3 albums before this and everywhere I see them classified as a punk band, they do however seem to be punk in ethos rather than in sound much like tourmates and fellow Norwegians Kvelertak, as much of this album flirts with the aggression of hardcore before a big poppy chorus comes in. It's upbeat and vibrant, with a uniqueness that other bands have strived their career for but musically not to my taste, there's too much saccharine for it to be full hardcore and too much screaming for pop. Signing to UKs Hassle Records is a big step and they'll be picked up by (non rock dedicated) radio very soon I'm sure (if they already haven't) but Blood Command probably isn't aimed at my listening habits so it's natural that my attention wandered after a couple of listens. So get ready to Praise Armageddon if this is your thing. 6/10

Organectomy – Nail Below Nail (Unique Leader) [Matt Cook]

Brutal Death Metal doesn’t always have to be rolling around in a pile of broken glass or eating a bowl of hearty, fibrous thumbtacks. However, there should be at least some semblance of danger and bellicosity. Maybe it’s a testament to recent blockbuster albums that have been released lately that this comes off as too tame, timid or slow. Or maybe Organectomy simply wanted to push the limits of BDM and see if they could break through and appeal to mainstream radio.

Essentially, Nail Below Nail is Slam Metal for people worried about waking their parents. Reserved, hesitant and more stoner headbanging than anything, this king of the jungle comes off instead as a peasant. Cult Of Excess subtly develops into moshing territory; it’s a favorable song, structurally speaking, but it ends with a fart (not literally, though that would fit into the genre). Entrapped Savagery is ironic in its title, since the album acts like a caged lion that wants to be let out but is entirely unable to. Concrete is the only almost-standout track. Alex Paul builds groove even with brutality in his vocal style. 

At one point, eerie AI-sounding guitar wails stunt the song’s durability and Paul’s vocals sound like he’s lying on his stomach during the recording session. I know, I know…I am a spoiled elitist pig, the guy at the concert with his hands crossed with a look of discontent as everyone else is headbanging and moshing and delivering forearm shivers. But if music, especially of the brutal kind, is going to progress forward and raise the bar, there has to be actual progress. Nail Below Nail can be viewed like an old, dimming light bulb. At first, it was bright and attention-grabbing. Though as the years went on, the light started to fade and flicker until it eventually died out completely and uneventfully. 6/10

Horizon Ignited - Towards The Dying Lands (Nuclear Blast) [Matt Bladen]

Melodeath or Melodic Death Metal is a funny old beast, a musical style developed mainly in Scandinavia (well Sweden) it's been adopted by man countries but really it's the Scandis that have the most bands playing it. There's just something about the melodic sound of keys, clean vocals and twin guitar harmonies which mixes with death metal grunts, downtuned grooves and blastbeats, that seems to be easily adopted by bands from the colder more desolate regions of the world. Finland's Horizon Ignited are one such band that stick rigidly to the Melodeath format, perhaps straying too often into the Melo rather than the death side. It unfortunately means that it's only the titular horizon that shows any kind of ignition or spark for me. 

I'm quite picky with Melodeath it needs to be said, but I found Towards The Dying Light, the second album from these Finn's to be a bit too stuck in the style. Yes of course the actual playing of these six is great, nice robust riffs, never overly flashy soloing, glistening keys across it all. Even the vocals are good both clean and harsh, but it's quite safe to my ears, after about 10 minutes I had to check what song I was on as there's similarities in all of them. As I said earlier, this back to basics Melodeath will probably garner them a following and bigger shows but for me it's languishing in a sound that has moved forward. 6/10

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