Review Summary: Of Machines have the potential that one does not see in many similar acts. For fans of: Saosin, Circa Survive, and Dance Gavin Dance.
After the constant pressure of a few friends, I relented and bought another Rise Records band after many promises that it was going to be "new and exciting". To be perfectly honest, I really did not expect much out of this cd. That was more than likely the reasoning behind me being somewhat pleasantly surprised by it in general. Of Machines obviously have the talent to grow behind the genre tag that is undoubtedly assigned to them as of right now. One can certainly tell that the band is attempting to inject a new passion into a genre that bloated with stale sound-alike bands. This does not stop them from making some rookie mistakes, such as relying on massive over-production and that old standby:the breakdown.
Let me start out with the positives of this album. Musically this is a very competent album, with interesting guitar leads and very impressive drum fills.The guitars do a very good job of being creative enough to keep one's interest piqued throughout individual songs, without introducing the chug-chug of distorted breakdowns every thirty seconds in the song. The drums propel the songs forward in a very energetic fashion without the attitude of, "Let's see how fast I can make that double bass go!". It is refreshingly obvious that Of Machines are not attempting to make the same post hardcore album that bands have been making for years on end now, and that in itself makes it a satisfying listen in that context. The vocals are of a pretty distinct quality, especially the clean vocals. I hate to draw this comparison, but in his higher register, he seems to emulate Saosin's Cove Reber very much. The beginning of the last song on the album, "An Autobiography" really shows off the uniqueness of his voice. While I will say that the screamed vocals are nothing new in this genre, what it does add to the band is blessed variety. It would be easy to get annoyed by the high-pitched clean vocals if the screaming vocals did not punctuate the songs when they do.
Now, all of that is well and good. Unfortunately, there are a few major detractors from this album. Even though Of Machines successfully created an album that stands out from their peers, it still does get old when one is listening to the album all of the way through. After the fourth or fifth song, it all starts to bleed together. They stuck with a method, and did not stray from that path for the most part. Bluntly put, it just gets old very quickly. It was as if they put a very interesting base down for their sound, but they did not experiment or deviate from that path at all once it was established. That sameness just starts pervading the album after you realize that this song is going to build up exactly the same way that the last one did. A very good exception is the song, "Sailing Around The Room". It is mainly instrumental throughout, but builds up to the vocals, which expands on their normal sound. Another big thing for me, personally, was the slick production of the record. For a band that could sound hauntingly beautiful and passionately heavy in the same song, I would want there to be a more drastic change in the way the song sounds as it changes. But even when the screamer came in to vocalize his angst, there did not seem to be any raw energy. As I said, that is a personal preference for me; I would have enjoyed the album more if there was a bit of feedback or an unstructured moment in a song. I do not want my albums to sound too perfect, if for nothing else than the fact it will be impossible for the band to duplicate it live.
Overall, I would say that Of Machines has much room to grow. Since this was their first release, I can assume that they could mature and put out an amazing album the next time around. With more experimentation and the inclusion of different influences, I can see this band being something great. As of right now, they shine on a few individual songs and prove, at least for the time being, that this overpopulated genre might still have something original to say.
Best songs on the album:
Weaving The Values