Review Summary: A solid addition to the Machinae Supremacy discography. With both a poignant message for younger generations and a nifty sound it's hard to ignore.
Machinae Supremacy’s Rise of a Digital Nation is a thundering opus for a young and pissed off generation. While many are in love with the band’s underground roots and the popularity that it has engendered among gamers, their music is a unique experience and Rise of a Digital Nation is an album worthy of a listen.
While I’m not a power metal fan in most of its forms there is something about this album that resonates with me. I keep coming back to it and I enjoy it every time I listen to it. That is saying something for as ADD as I am with my musical tastes.
The band makes great use of their signature SID/Commodore64 sound and where they do, the sound is far more integrated into the music and doesn't seem forced. It seems completely natural and fully integrated into their style, which is crucial. Let’s call a spade a spade: Machinae Supremacy has a niche and a cool gimmick. As such, it’s extremely important that it never seems forced. Good news! It doesn't.
Rise of a Digital Nation is probably the most polished of their albums and while it gives us less total time of awesomeness, what we get is quality work. Beyond that, I keep firing this album up and enjoying the hell out of it. While your mileage may vary depending on your tastes, this is clearly in my top-ten list for 2012 simply because every time I fire it up my head starts bobbing and I find myself absorbed into the album.
The album opens with a sound effect which brings back the nostalgia of firing up an old video game and the track All of My Angels thunders forth with the SID components playing support to the guitar and drum work. In fact, the inclusion of the digital sound effects is almost disguised as guitar sounds at points. From that point on this album grabs you by the lapels, hauls you on board the Commodore64 sound train and refuses to let go, which I greatly appreciate as a fan of the band.
I would like to note that the track Battlecry is the first time I've heard them integrate a bit of dubstep sound to their music. I’m not sure if I like this or not but it’s a sign that the band is looking at the electronica genre and watching it change and at least paying homage to the importance of the music and the artists in that genre.
The one complaint I've heard from some people is that they find the vocal style and tone “whiny” in its style. I can’t help you there. I think it fits the style of the band and their body of work.
The band clearly has a message about the world and it’s one that they are obviously willing to back given that they released the album to The Pirate Bay for three days this past November and leave much of their earlier work up for download on their website. They aren't afraid to stick their neck out and back up their focus on a technologically advanced generation of metalheads. Whether this is simply a publicity stunt or a statement about what they think about the music industry as a whole is up for debate but it does make me appreciate them a little more.
The lyrics themselves certainly resonate with a young generation that feels abandoned by those in power and with a desire to change the world around them for the better. Given the state of the world and the economies of Europe and America, this is a timely message. Perhaps the best example can be found in the Battlecry track: We ally with no others / We come as we were / No one and nothing / in the eyes of the world / But we have the skills to undo you / and too idle hands.
After the galloping ride on the SID machine, which makes me wish I still had my old NES, the album closes with the track Hero and leaves you wanting more. I can ask for little else from a band that grabbed my attention in college and has held it since.