posted on 9/2008 By:
Contemporary Swedish melodic death metal bands may not raise much interest for those sick of the bloated genre's worn-out clichés, even when some bands are putting out material equal to or better than that of their forebears. I sympathize with the burnt-out feeling, but it's a shame that the melodeath fans who now only spin Dark Tranquillity on the regular might pass on good bands like Machinery. The Passing hits all the right Swedish notes and them some, incorporating unique prog stylings that Nevermore and Mercenary fans ought to really dig. A clean production, powerful vocalist, and knack for writing songs that stick out add to this album's many merits to make The Passing one of the nicer surprises of 2008.
I think I've said it all in my opening paragraph, so let me elaborate on the three best things about this record:
(1) Michel Isberg can really sing. When you stray into clean vocal territory, you're taking a big risk in this genre. Not everybody can retain their muscle and credibility while wearing their heart on their sleeve (like Tom Englund of Evergrey) but Isberg does, and with very impressive pipes to boot (though his growls are probably just average). I can't speak for the lyrics, but I love the screaming/singing dynamic here, and that's remarkable because it's been played out by innumerable metalcore bands in the past few years. (The few lyrics I do grab impress me. "I, Divine" is a heartfelt stab at Christianity in addition to being a fantastic song). At times - most obviously in "Cold" and "Bloodline" - comparisons to Warrel Dane of Nevermore should crop up, and that's not a bad thing in my book.
(2) It's melodeath, but it's got soul too. I mentioned "I, Divine" above. The following track, "Dead Man" also plucks some deep emotional chords. It's been a while since I've been moved by a melodeath album, so Machinery earn big points for writing songs with sturdy-to-sweet riffs and songs with that certain something it takes to leave a real impression on a listener. The wonderful Jonas Kjellgren (Scar Symmetry) production only helps the better moments shine. Now, they don't always hit the ball out of the park, and sometimes they seem to reach for impact without having adequate support in the way of quality riffs and engaging compositions (e.g., "Decide My Pain", which falls flat out of the gate for me, and "The Passing", which can't decide its direction), but these cases are rare.
(3) Each song stands apart. The prog elements help a lot here. There are some tracks that channel Arch Enemy for the greater part of their influence (see "Delirium in Vengeance"), and there are others that feel decidedly non-Swedish ("Dead Man"). To top it all off, Machinery seem to have worked hard to craft songs whose compositions don't all match. Of course they have their own style, but they mix things up well and keep the pace up and the level of engagement set to high. Even as the album loses its strong grip for a slightly weaker one toward the end, Machinery keep things interesting enough to warrant listening on. I'm glad I did.
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