Band :  Machinae Supremacy

Album : Rise of a Digital Nation

Genre: SID Metal

Release Date: 19.10.2012

Record Label : Spinefarm Records

(Just a quick note here : A very good friend of mine wanted to write this review for one of his favorite bands so I would like to point out that I didn’t write this review. All the amazing work and credit goes to Sarp Esin!  😀 You might ask “Hey, this is your blog so why are you doing something like this?” but Sarp is a very good writer so I just wanted to include his review in my blog. 😀 )

Machinae Supremacy is one of the finest bands that have been brought forth by the 2000s.  From the build-up of their impressive webography (all of which is still free to be downloaded on their site) to their successful tenure under the flag of Spinefarm, and even in the soundtrack of the now infamous Jets’n’Guns, they have been a curiosity in the music scene.  Declaring their style as SID Metal, the bands distinctive sound of fat guitars, hard bass, thunderous drumming and general fist-in-the-air call-to-arms stance is married to the SID keyboards reminiscent of old video games.  Now, four albums in and onto the fifth, it can be said that the band is still as strong as ever.

However, their fourth full-length, A View from the End of the World was a brutal tour-de-force that had arguably marked the highest musical point of the band and as such, Rise of a Digital Nation has the daunting task of topping a masterpiece.   Before anything else, let’s just say that while it doesn’t top its predecessor, Rise of a Digital Nation is not a single solitary step below it.  It doesn’t raise the bar, but doesn’t fall below it either, it meets the bar.  Further, Rise of a Digital Nation is easily one of the finest 2012 had to offer.

The general music is MaSu through and through.  Their signature (extra crunchy) riffing style hasn’t changed, incorporating groove into their punch and punch into their groove, and it’s as deadly as ever.  Pronounced and ever-present SID keyboards, rumbling bass, frenetic drumming and Gaz’s signature vocals and unconventional delivery (especially potent in Laser Speed Force), coupled with fierce, cutting-edge, sharp-as-a-razor soloing makes for an impressive display of what MaSu is: an extremely well-oiled machine.

One of Robert’s claims about why Redeemer was quite mellow on the SID department was that the first album had been a “SID-fest.”  This seems to have been reconsidered, because the SID is more pronounced than ever.  In fact, in the titular song, there is a keyboard solo, and it’s pure win and awesome delivered with as much soaring, victorious bravado as humanly possible.  This is a welcome change in general as well, as it doesn’t enhance the sound of the album, but rather completes it – the theme of a “rising digital nation” is driven home with some force when one fourth of the album is SID.

The songs offer enough variety to keep the album from being a string of same-y songs.  Transgenic in particular is so much a shift in mood that it really stands out.  Further, the song is comparable to Reanimator (March of the Undead III) from their Redeemer album (and 99 could be Oki Kuma’s Adventure.)  This comparability carries onto Pieces as well, which is much like One Day in the Universe and from A View to the End of the World.  By the same token, Republic of Gamers could easily have been the long-awaited Player Two, which brings us to a fact: by this point in their career, comparisons between MaSu songs is inevitable.  What is remarkable isn’t that their output is intrinsically harmonious, but that even with those comparisons evident, the output always manages to be fresh.

Similarly, from a lyrical standpoint, Machinae Supermacy hasn’t changed since its inception; the lyrics carry on the soaring, anthemic nature of the music.  The ability to write around the same themes of empowerment (Rise of a Digital Nation, 99), video games (Laser Speed Force, Hero, Republic of Gamers)  and issues of the persona (Pieces, Transgenic) constantly while making every line sound fresh is nothing short of talent married to pure, raw skill.  This also brings about catchy choruses that instantly get stuck in one’s head, which will have you singing along in no time.  While for a Spinefarm band to take such a protesting stance against media industry complex may at first sound like a band is just protesting for the sake of protesting, but different from most, Machinae Supremacy has true conviction behind their sermons (just check out that webography.)

The band also breaks its tradition of including a Steve song every other album.  For those who do not know, Steve is a messianic, be-awesome/do-awesome figure that pops up in MaSu songs every now and again (on their odd-numbered studio albums to be precise) but he’s strangely absent from an album that would be perfect for him.

All-in-all, Rise of a Digital Nation may have come very near the end of the year, but it is, hands-down-, one of the best albums of 2012.  It’d be a shame if you missed it, but it’s not too late to redeem yourself!

P.S. I actually did ask Gaz who Steve was, and he wrote:  “I don’t really know who Steve is, except that he’s very powerful even though he doesn’t look like it. He feels strongly about certain things and will walk his own path, through the fire if he must. But fire can’t hurt you unless you fear it.”

Rating : 9/10

Machinae Supremacy is :

Vocals: Robert Stjärnström
Guitars: Jonas Rörling & Tomi Luoma
Bass: Andreas Gerdin
Drums: Niklas Karvonen