Malice Machine – Chemical Violence
Release Date: 16/07/2021
Running Time: 63:44
Review by Dark Juan
It will no doubt surprise you all mightily, dear readers, to learn that your favourite extreme music enfant terrible sometimes suffers from mental health issues. Whilst I shan’t bother you with the minutiae of it all, there are times where my creativity and my sense of worth suffer and my writing dwindles to nothing, be it the drivel I direct at you all at the behest of my Lord and Master, the formidable (and worryingly imposing) Generalissimo Richard “Just Write Something When You Feel Like It, You Northern Gimboid, Simon Has Written 470,000 Reviews To Your One, So We Aren’t Short Anyway” Tilley (who didn’t really say that and is more than supportive of his team when they aren’t at their best), or the somewhat warped fiction that spews from my diseased imagination that I somehow never get round to tidying up and releasing. Although there are some on Ever-Metal.com. There is a point to all this nonsense. If you are suffering with issues of mental health, or are feeling like the world is better off without you, for the love of Satan go and get some help. The world is a better, more vibrant place with you in it. Write your pain down, make art out of it, use it to drive you, but never succumb. Achieve catharsis. Do whatever you need to do to mitigate your own suffering and you’ll be your own hero or heroine.
This is IMPORTANT. Too many people suffer in silence, and too many people succumb to their own personal horror. And to the friends of people who may be suffering in silence – check up on them. Be their friend in the true meaning of the word. A well-timed word, message or deed could be the difference between your friend/loved one/acquaintance topping themselves or taking the first step on their recovery or their being able to cope with or manage their emotions. Stand by, support them and forgive them if their misery causes you hurt or pain, because it comes from a horrible, black wellspring of awful, uncontrollable shit. Don’t be afraid of challenging it though. I’m perfectly aware that this is supposed to be a record review and it will become one in short order, but there are people suffering who need not be, and even Satanism tells us that love is the law. I won’t apologise for writing this missive and I am sure that Malice Machine will forgive me for proselytising…
The aforementioned Malice Machine are a duo who hail from Pennsylvania, in the jolly old US of A and the music they bring to us is some of the bleakest, arctic industrial music I have heard in a long time. Malice Machine draw influence from some of the industrial greats – I hear Skinny Puppy (especially around the “Cleanse, Fold and Manipulate” era), Front 242, “Mind Is a Terrible Thing To Taste” era Ministry, Front Line Assembly, Wumpscut, slowed down KMFDM without the glossy polish, British techno-metal bruisers Cubanate (especially in the harsher vocal performances) and Nitzer Ebb, and in the more electronic moments I can detect Suicide Commando, Funker Vogt and Christ Analogue. These are absolutely brilliant influences to have in my opinion.
It’s therefore clearly obvious that Malice Machine cover a lot of the territory of industrial music. This means that the music could go one of two ways – either it’s a colossal and messy clusterfuck of influences or it is music that is viable in itself, regardless of the broad church it springs from. Pleasingly, it is the latter. ‘Machine Hate’ references KMFDM with electronic squelches and beeps and dissonant phrasing, yet is much murkier and machinelike in tone than the highly polished, latex-and-feather clad multinational industrial rockers. ‘Nothing’ is an amalgam of Front Line Assembly influenced electronic industrial overlaid with a similar vocal to Cubanate’s Marc Heal in his quieter moments. The more I listen to Malice Machine, the more I am impressed by their melding of some quite disparate influences to form something predatory and newish. Malice Machine’s great strength is not their pure originality. The execution of their music is the overwhelming power of their sound. The band are uncompromising in their delivery and shudderingly violent sounding. Few bands with electronics in their sound are able to project power with them. Glossy and polished this battlewagon isn’t. It’s belching diesel smoke and is pitted and corroded matt black and roaring explosive death from massive cannons three feet away from your unprotected head. Malice Machine conjure up images of heavily armed cyborg warriors with no faces marching in perfect synchronicity over the ruins of the city they have just carpet-bombed, throwing plasma grenades into basements and firing laser rifles at fleeing figures.
However, I do think there is a little too much reliance on mid-tempo speeds. The songs don’t differ enough in tempo or tone. Every tune is blacker than the heart of this reviewer and shot through with rage and pain, but an over-reliance on squelches and buzzy, warped basslines rob the overall work of some of the power it could have had. I can’t fault the production of the record though. Every single sound is represented with perfect, icy clarity. When there is guitar, it sends the music into a new gear, but the guitar is quite sparse throughout the album (“Chemical Violence” being the second offering from these American industrialists) and sometimes the songs suffer from the lack of it. ‘Head’ even lifts the drum sound from NIN’s ‘Closer’ and uses it to advantage as the unifying force behind the whole song.
So, here we have a quandary. I really like this record because industrial is my jam. I love the combination of red raw vocals combined with the purity and machinelike precision of industrial. I love this mid-paced, mechanical violence and power, but not all the time. ‘Techno Pagan’ offers a welcome break from industrial marching music and speeds things up a bit though and throws us a curveball in the middle eight in the form of a massive techno break that manages to sound very like Cubanate at the same time. Another thing I am not keen on (although I can’t really count it as a demerit because you’re getting a lot of music for your money) is the fact that the record has fourteen songs, and that makes it a bit of a chore to listen to. You have to set aside considerable time to listen to it in one go.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System has made a decision. Malice Machine are awarded 8/10 for a very good record indeed, with two minor flaws – it’s overly long and there’s too many mid-tempo stompalongs. An improvement in quality control would pay dividends because Malice Machine have a lot going for them and I want a lot more!
Oh, and I managed to only swear twice in this review, thereby proving that I don’t have a gob like a potty all the time.
03. Corpse Painter
04. Dead Circuit
05. Lament Box
06. Machine Hate
09. Synthetic Slave
12. Techno Pagan
13. Winter’s Dark
14. Down In The Park
Syn Thetic – Vocals, Synths, Guitar, Programming, Bass, Mixing, Production, Anger
Ammo – Drums, Percussion, Programming, Tech, chaos
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