posted on 2/2008 By:
Dudes with long hair from Scandinavia playing melodic, thrashy, deathy stuff; Yup, it’s sure been done before, and under similar circumstances to boot. So, what sets The Machete apart from their rather numerous peers? This question actually proves more difficult to answer than I had first expected—while what these guys are doing on their second album isn’t really cookie-cutter Nordic death/thrash a la The Haunted/Carnal Forge/Dew Scented/whoever, it’s also not a wild deviation from their well-worn stylings. Ultimately, Untrue seems like a compromise; The Machete are self-aware enough to attempt to carve out a distinctive sound (via injections of late 90s groove), but still too married to their home style to do so convincingly.
This is actually sort of a shame, and not because they come so close to hitting a creative home run. Conversely, these guys actually do the modernist thrash thing really well when they put their minds to it. Not amazing Insomnium level goodness, mind you; they’re simply adept at romping gleefully through that familiar ol’ formula in an acceptably entertaining fashion. Armed with solid—though unspectacular—musicianship and a nicely balanced production job, The Machete rip through barn burners like “Human Being Human,” “Ready For Blood,” and “Life Sold” with big returns in entertainment value, if not memorability. Even this most elusive feature they manage to pin down on “Blow by Blow,” which actually employs some ‘whoooaaoh’ style backing vocals to surprising effect.
But proficiency in an overcrowded subgenre won’t get you all that far in the metal world, and The Machete’s chosen addition to said subgenre doesn’t win them many points. Specifically, they’ve elected to split their time between the aforementioned thrash attack and a groove-heavy, glistening brand of melodic rock that calls to mind a more belligerent Deftones (circa White Pony). These excursions into more commercial territory generally flop for two reasons. Firstly, The Machete simply aren’t as capable with the form as they are with new-school thrash. Vocalist Tuommo Saikkonen sounds far more comfortable bellowing away than he does while delivering heartfelt choruses, and the rhythm section takes on a misfortunate “nu” bounce when they slow to rock tempos. Second, the juxtaposition of clean rock choruses with high-octane thrash has become…shall we say…just a mite familiar lately—not so much in the way that The Machete handle it, but as everyone knows the overall format is just a little tired nowadays.
So Untrue is a decent but decidedly anonymous sophomore album from a bunch of Finnish dudes with long hair. They play metal. They play it in a way you have pretty much heard before, though not exactly in a way you’ve heard before. If it wasn’t obvious, I’m having a hard time caring much about this album, and I suspect that the discerning listeners amongst you will have the same problem.
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