The Machine - Wave Cannon review
|Release date:||May 2023|
02. Genau Or Never
04. Ride On Crash Kick
05. Return To Sphere (Kneiter II)
06. Wave Cannon
As scandalous as it is for a band called The Machine to be playing hippie psychedelic music instead of industrial or something similarly mechanical, it appears that they have a knack for it.
Dutch power trio The Machine have had a turbulent time of it since they released their previous record, Faceshift, in 2018. Original bassist Hans van Heemst left the group while the record was still in production, to be replaced by Chris Both after an interim live stint by Sander Haagmans (ex-Sungrazer, who The Machine previously released a split album with). History has seemingly repeated itself, as founding drummer Davy Boogaard’s last actions as part of the group were to record his parts for Wave Cannon; his performance can be heard on this release, but Klaas Dijkstra will sit behind the kit going forward. Line-up instability was attributed by the band as a reason for the longer gap between Faceshift and Wave Cannon than between The Machine’s previous albums, but has it hindered the end result?
For the uninitiated, The Machine play a heavy stoner/psychedelic rock sound that goes into metal territory at times, but can also more closely resemble alt rock, as well as featuring a good amount of clean-toned psychedelic meandering. In the interview I linked in the previous paragraph, The Machine describe a shift in their songwriting focus over recent years, with greater focus on writing actual songs over long-form jams. As a novice myself when it comes to the band’s discography, it’s an interesting statement to read, seeing as the album structure of Wave Cannon seems to resemble that of their previous few releases: a bunch of shorter songs, and then one or two jam-based tracks running over 10 minutes.
Perhaps this transition occurred further back in time than the interview implies, as the starkest shift in album composition appears to occur between 2010’s Drie (with 4 jams over 9 minutes) and 2012’s Calmer Than You Are, whose runtime and structure closely resembles that of Wave Cannon, right down to this new release’s longest song, “Return To Sphere (Kneiter II)”, being a clear callback to Calmer Than You Are’s own long-form track “Sphere (... Or Kneiter)”. What the surface-level similarities between these two albums provide are a simpler opportunity to see in what other ways The Machine have changed in the last years.
How they have changed in the past decade, when putting these two albums side-by-side, is partially in the production; the sound on Wave Cannon is both deeper/richer, indicating higher production quality, and also hazier. This latter observation seems fitting with another apparent change over time, specifically towards a mellower and more spaced-out vibe, in contrast to the more driven feel of Calmer Than You Are. I was trying to think of what bands I was getting reminded of when listening to Wave Cannon, and some more obvious picks came to mind (recent Elder and Weedpecker in moments), but another one that stood out to me was Methadone Skies; this record has a slightly melancholic tone beneath the fuzzy riffs that I feel is somewhat akin to the tone of Different Layers Of Fear.
This is a fairly languid record, the only real exception being the unusually short “Ride On Crash Kick”, which injects a brief and sudden dose of desert rock into the equation. It's an injection that doesn’t quite work, mainly due to how the album is produced; the psychedelic haze, which is both soothing yet also quite dense, dulls the energy of this lively track. However, that production is perfect for what The Machine are doing elsewhere on Wave Cannon; the dreamy “Reversion”, groovy “Genau Or Never” and more plodding “Glider” have a sound in which the psychedelic textures are ethereal, the riffs are heavy without being overbearing, and guitar leads are expansive. This ability to work over a wide dynamic range is important for the aforementioned “Return To Sphere (Kneiter II)”, which is rocking and groovy in its first half, culminating in some fat doomy fuzz, before the second half completely spaces out for sustained sections of quasi-ambience.
Wave Cannon is an album that will naturally appeal to those who prefer their stoner/desert rock to be hazy, mellow and psychedelic, but also with enough metallic crunch to satisfy their doomier urges. “Ride On Crash Kick” is a bit out of place, but it’s easy to overlook considering how little of the album’s runtime it represents, and particularly since the remaining material is rich and rewarding.
||Written on 25.05.2023 by|
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