Machinae Supremacy has entered the fray once again with a new album.
The self-described “SiD Metal” band from Luleå, Sweden is known for a kind of music that isn’t really found anywhere else. This is band that combines metal, punk and video game music — a band that gained its momentum in the early 2000s by releasing tons of free songs through their website. From their origins as a internet-based act, they managed to get picked up by Spinefarm — an action that some fans feared as they thought it meant that the rebellious, pro-piracy band had sold out. However, when the band released Overworld all doubts seemed to disappear. Praised by both fans and critics alike, it seemed to cement them as a band truly loyal to their unique sound.
Does A View From The End Of The World follow in these footsteps or does it fall flat?
Let’s be honest — if you’ve been following Machinae Supremacy since their earlier days, then the answer shouldn’t surprise you.
In many ways, Machinae have gone back to their roots. This isn’t to say that Redeemer or Overworld explored extremely different paths, but they both “evolved” the band’s signature sound in two different directions. While they both were very solid albums, they left me personally feeling like something else could’ve been there — a rebellious, hopeful spirit that was present in the earlier web releases and Deus Ex Machinae. In short, it seemed like they matured just a tad too much.
When Robert and gang went back to the drawing board it seems like they felt the same thing. According to an interview, the band wanted a bit of their “old” style back, so they decided to record a good portion of the album in their own home brew fashion. I’m not sure exactly what extra control or tools it gave them, but it worked. Everything just seems much crisper compared to the past two albums.
Possibly where the “old stuff” shines through the most on this album is in the lyrics and just general tone. Yes, their are some serious undertones on some of these songs but there is also a bouncy, cheerful “gamer” sort of thing going on here. Songs like Indiscriminate Murder is Counter Productive and Crouching Camper Hidden Sniper seem to be Machinae purposely being silly, playing directly to the gamer culture that they are undeniably part of. It is easy to be critical about the lyrics and content (a song about camping in Call of Duty? Teabagging?) but if you go down that path you are completely missing the point. This isn’t Insomnium, kids. These songs are made to bang your head to when you need a jolt of energy. Or, better yet, listened to while smashing skulls online.
Another thing this album brings back is the hopeful, fist-pumping songs that they did so well during their early career. Remember tracks like Player One and Hero? They have some company in Persona, Action Girl (which could get away being called Player Two) and my personal favorite — One Day In The Universe, which is a track that tackles long distance (specifically online) dating.
These guys have just stepped it up everywhere for this album.
While Overworld was without a doubt a landmark as far as Robert’s vocals go, A View really shows us what he can do. He still has a unique sound going for him, but it is just incredibly refined compared to their earlier work — and that truly is an excellent thing. Not to mention lyrically, these choruses are outstanding. Every song on the album begs to be belted out (like a fool) while you are driving down the freeway.
Jonas, Andreas and Johan pull off some awesome stuff here as well, all of the riffing on this album feels like a perfect mix between the serious, dark riffing and the bouncier, punk-based stuff from earlier tracks. Force Feedback and Cybergenesis both hit the mark perfectly when it comes to the strings. Seriously though, the verse riff in Cybergenesis is so Machinae that I honestly have no idea how else to describe it (and it isn’t the only one).
There was also some worry that the new drummer, Niklas Karvonen, wouldn’t be able to carry the torch passed to him by departing long time band member Tomas. Have no worries though as while Niklas’ style is noticeably heavier than his predecessor, he manages to fit in just fine.
And — of course — the “SiD.” Fans seem to always want more and the band certainly has delivered here. I can’t remember a single song on this album that is missing the stuff. More importantly though, it doesn’t feel forced or sprinkled on. Machinae continues to use it just like any other instrument so it never feels gimmicky (clearly, Machinae doesn’t go for those casuals). In fact, I couldn’t imagine any of the songs without it. Some of them are completely set off by the SiD, like Action Girl, Remnant and Shinigami.
My only real complaint is that major diversity is only really found on the bookends of the album. While the middle tracks are great, they can easily bleed into one another. This is really just because Machinae has such a solid sound now that even when songs go off in a “punk” or “metal” direction, they still sound very similar. If you’re the kind of fan who likes a lot of diversity in sound like on, say, Redeemer, you might be a little disappointed.
What A View From The End Of The World really shows is the band’s passion for their music (and the culture around it). Sure, they might have a label now and a few albums under their belt, but at heart these guys are still the same group of music-loving gamers that gave us Deus-ex Machinae.
In short, remember that feeling that you got when you first picked up an SNES controller? Yeah. This album is just like that.
Buy A View From The End Of The World directly from the band here.
For a few song samples, check out Machinae Supremacy’s Youtube page.