Vocals - Jason Navarro
Guitar - Dan Lukacinsky
Bass - Royce Nunley
Drums - Derek Grant
'Battle Hymns' was the much anticipated follow-up to The Suicide Machines much praised and loved debut album 'Destruction By Defintion', so naturally it isn't all that different from that album. Except this album is much harder sounding than the first one.
The problem lies in that because of the extremly bland production, and each song starting and stoping almost as fast as they begin (The songs are REALLY short) the album sounds dull. With the exception of two songs ('High Society'
and 'Empty Room'
) all of the ska songs sound too similar, the guitar is mixed too loud, and the bass is too low. Way too many songs sound the same as well, 'Hating Hate'
, 'Pins And Needles'
sound almost exactly the same just with different lyrics, as do 'Sympathy'
. And since the later songs are all right after each other at the end of the album, the blandness is very noticable. They tried out hardcore on this album and unlike the hardcore on "A Match And Some Gasoline", it just doesn't work here. The album whips by too fast and you WILL miss some important elements in the better songs because some of them feel like they were shortened on purpose, and they don't end very well. All these things make the album a chore to sit through.
But there are high points. 'Numbers'
is still the best hardcore song they've ever done. Start-stop nature, great lyrics and a great song structure make this 50 second number one of the best songs. 'Someone'
has a great "floating" feel throughout the ska verses, and the punk chorus brings it down hard into the ground, it's one of The Machines' best. As previously mentioned, 'High Society'
has a great ska guitar riff and lyrics, also including a passionate vocal delivery, the songs makes you feel like you're around 'High Society' yourself, and gives you the feel of wanting the protagonist to escape. 'What You Say'
has a fun scitzo ska/punk switch-off throughout the song, you'll never see it coming. 'Face Another Day'
, gradually starts as a slow ska number, but speeds up until it's a pure punk freakout. 'Empty Room'
and 'Independence Parade'
have a slightly similar intro, but both songs are very heartfelt, but very powerful at the same time. The 4 second 'Punck'
and 6 second 'Jah'
are both a simple punk beat and ska roll, respectively. They're nothing special, but they work really well.
Other highlights include the quick ska-punk number 'Step One'
, which starts off as a sweet little ska-punk song about Jay worrying about the world around him and what the future holds, the song also ends in a punk sonic blitzkrieg to finish it off. The final real highlight on this album is 'Give'
, the only pure ska song on the album. It's the longest song on the album, featuring a fun chorus "you gotta look before you leap.. (Oh yeah!)" and great musicianship. Unfortunately, the production affects the song as much as it does the rest of the album.
In conclusion, this album is not the best one The Machines have to offer, but it's not bad either. It includes some of their best songs, as well as some of their most bland. If you like this band, check it out. If you're looking for a SM album to start out with, try "Destruction By Definition" instead.