Mechina
Xenon


3.5
great

Review

by Emotional, Beautiful, Evocative, Otherworldly (I'm Not Pots USER (13 Reviews)
January 4th, 2014 | 72 replies | 8,073 views


Release Date: 01/01/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: At last Mechina start to realise their own potential.

10 of 10 thought this review was well written

There's no denying that Mechina are one of the most active and hardworking bands out there, putting out an album each year and constantly trying to improve their material. With Empyrean it seemed the band had finally started to find their own niche, the music being a step up from the previous album but nowhere near the same difference between Tyrannical Resurrection and Conqueror. That is until 'Cepheus' was released earlier this year. The song demonstrated a far greater overhaul in sound, relying less on the symphonic elements and far more on heavy guitar work as well as more cohesive and well thought out songwriting. Now in 2014 Xenon is a full realisation that everything that 'Cepheus' promised.

From the moment the album starts one thing should become apparent; the mix on this album is spot on, there is a far greater emphasis on the crunch and heaviness of the guitars without losing the depth of the orchestra. The mixing of the album really emphasises the direction of the album's sound; the guitars. While there were hints on Empyrean and Conqueror of other influences aside from Fear Factory, it's Xenon where it feels Joe Tiberi is finally starting to open up in terms of guitar work. Empyrean may have introduced the use of the nine string guitar to their sound but Xenon feels like it was written for it. Huge melodic, semi-djent riffs open up songs like 'Terrea' and give them real heaviness and groove. On other occasions Tiberi successfully integrates the extra heaviness afforded by the ninth string into the more rhythmic Fear Factory-esque guitar work, particularly on 'Erebus'. While he brings nothing truly new to the table, it's credit to Tiberi as a guitarist that he manages to make all of these elements work so well without falling into many of the same pitfalls that other bands fall prey to.

As much credit can go to Tiberi, it's also in part to how much the songwriting has improved. While there are no ambitious, ten minute epics like 'Terminus' the songs feel far tighter in composition, the arrangements far more well thought out. The verse/chorus, clean/unclean clich├ęs are mostly abandoned in favour of necessity rather than habit in terms of vocal choice with only a few exceptions that still work surprisingly well such as 'Phedra'. Not only that but the moments where the instrumental section wanders off into tremolo picking and aimless melodies are cut down significantly in exchange for quick tempo changes and a lack of repetition. Combined with Tiberi's increased range Mechina seem to finally move away from the relying on the vocals and orchestra to drive the songs. Where on previous albums where the heaviness of a song was determined simply by the style of vocals on Xenon now the heavier songs have their own unique character. It's also a testament to the band's songwriting that while the heavier songs dominate this album it never leaves the album feeling half-baked and stale. When the softer side of the band does appear, it produces some of the best moments on the album such as 'Zoticus' and the instrumental 'Actaeon'. Indeed 'Actaeon' actually showcases a far more experimental side to the band with it hinting at an ambient direction.

For all of its positive qualities though Xenon still possesses some major flaws. Some songs still suffer from the aimlessness and repetition that afflicted previous albums with the main casualties being 'Thales' and 'Amyntas,' while affecting few other songs in smaller doses (see the ending of 'Terrea') . Consequently the album feels too top heavy in nature. At other points the constant tinkering nature of Mechina's songwriting process can work against it as they sometimes add too much to the orchestral arrangements. While this is less of problem than it was on the last album, moments such as the violin on 'Actaeon' can clutter the music when it desperately needs to breath for the atmosphere to work. Perhaps the biggest flaw lies in the lack of originality in the sound itself. Mechina are inherently proud of their routes displaying influences like a peacock showing it's plume such as the little musical cues from films such as Tron Legacy and Prometheus that appear throughout. As well as they use these influences it still feels like Mechina are too rigidly adhering to a tried and tested formula and not thinking outside of the box enough, a step that's holding the band back from becoming truly original.

For all it's flaws though this album is still Mechina's most consistent and well-balanced affair showcasing some of the best material they've ever written. It's also a defining moment for the band as while this may not be the most original album ever, it's the first album where they've managed to give a full portrait of their sound along with a few hints at a lot of potential for the future. Of course this is all dependent on how far they wish to push the proverbial envelope but considering their level of ascent so far it wouldn't be surprising if they tore it to pieces next time.

Choice cuts;

-Erebus
-Zoticus
-Actaeon



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user ratings (45)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
ResidentNihilist
January 4th 2014



957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

4foxxy and styles

Review was written in a more constructive criticism style than usual. Concrit as always would be much appreciated.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
January 4th 2014



8317 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Haha, I've only given this like 3 spins so far, but it seems that at the moment we disagree on so many things. I actually liked the mix a whole lot better on Empyrean because while I'm willing to admit the guitar sound wasn't spectacular on that one, the music breathed so much better on that album. It's much too cluttered here. I also think the vocals dominate here way more than on Empyrean - they are higher in the mix.

Furthermore, I don't really think this album is top heavy because some of the best stuff comes in the second half (Erebus, Thales, Actaeon). I think the tracklist is pretty well-balanced. I also don't think there is any aimless wandering here - I can understand complaints that the album may get repetitive for some, but imo the songs all have an aim. I also wouldn't say that the album is unoriginal - sure, they're not reinventing the wheel here and the metal parts themselves are pretty standard stuff, but the way Mechina mixes industrial, orchestral and metal elements is pretty damn cool. Honestly, I think we disagree on most stuff looking back, and I think you just inspired me to write something up for this myself.


The review itself is great though! One thing: when describing "Actaeon", I would replace post-rock with ambient.

ResidentNihilist
January 4th 2014



957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cheers dude, yeah I do agree about 'Erebus' though, it's pretty much the Mechina's formula perfected. I can see what you mean about the mix but when you're considering that they're doing this DIY while trying to do something stuff I do find it impressive though I do get what you mean about the original production. I think tbh if they want their music to breath far more with the production they're using now I think they may have to unclutter the arrangements a bit in places to really let the music breath. And thanks dude, I pointed out the post-rock hint because of the guitar tone used at the end but I will change it immediatly.

Tbh I kind of had a feeling you would write something up. I know once you're finished you're going to sit back with your review featured and flagged with a little smirk on your face thinking 'now whose opinion is better hahaha...'

jk

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
January 4th 2014



8317 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

but when you're considering that they're doing this DIY while trying to do something stuff I do find it impressive
For sure, not disagreeing there, the production is ok and this album definitely "sounds" better than Empyrean, my only gripe is that Empyrean breathed a lot better because everything seemed to be much more spread out, which imo worked. Here everything's thrown together into this massive industrial-orchestral ball of metal - on some tracks it works more (Tartarus for example, which is probably my favorite right now), and on some less. This comes down to personal preference, but I think Mechina's orchestral bits are really addictive, hence why I didn't mind Empyrean's production at all, which placed less emphasis on guitars.


I wasn't actually sure if I was going to write anything for this, mainly because I've been experiencing a gigantic writer's block for a few months now. I'm pretty happy with the blurbs I contributed to the staff feature, but aside from those, I haven't really been able to write anything I'd be pleased with. And I'm still not sure if I will write anything for this because I'm in the middle of my exam period and free time is scarce.

Also, the funny thing is, despite us disagreeing on quite a few things, our ratings would be similar, at least as it stands. I like this, but Empyrean hit me harder from the start. Also, if I can't manage to gather the inspiration to write anything for this, I'll try to get your review featured.

pizzamachine
January 4th 2014



12571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

My first album of the year! :D 'twas good and I like the review, pos.



ResidentNihilist
January 4th 2014



957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

True styles, tbh I still wonder what 'Zoticus' would be like with the Empyrean production. I was kidding but thank you dude I really appreciate that and hopefully you do put out a piece because i shall look forward to reading it.

Cheers Pizza!

600th

KILL
January 4th 2014



70298 Comments


will check but seems this band can never lose that amateur sound!

Digging: Gal Costa - Gal Costa

ResidentNihilist
January 4th 2014



957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

well y'know KILL I'm always a sucker for my own sense of over optimism and naivety

Myrkur
January 4th 2014



164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Entertaining album but not much else

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
January 4th 2014



11566 Comments


im glad these guys are starting to get more attntn

Digging: Mac DeMarco - Salad Days

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
January 4th 2014



11566 Comments


cant decide on a rating

Crawl
January 5th 2014



1536 Comments


Mechina is one of the most favorite metal bands for me and your new album Xenon is almost 50 minutes of great atmospheric music ;)
-soundoff by miikke

JCGold14
January 5th 2014



8 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Good instrumentation, but the overproduced vocals kinda killed it for me

ResidentNihilist
January 6th 2014



957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Awesome, first feature, thanks guys!

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
January 6th 2014



11566 Comments


its a gr8 review bud

ProjectFreak
January 6th 2014



1284 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"It's also a defining moment for the band as while this may not be the most original album ever it's the first album where they've managed to give a full portrait of their sound along with a few hints at a lot of potential for the future. "

needs a comma after ever

otherwise, review is great, definitely going to listen to this, Empyrean was great

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
January 6th 2014



20578 Comments


didnt know these guys were coming out with another album so fast. gotta check

Digging: Opeth - Pale Communion

Amphoteric
January 6th 2014



1426 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Good instrumentation, but the overproduced vocals kinda killed it for me"

Yeah the cleans are terrible lol

Digging: Deadwood - Picturing a Sense of Loss

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
January 6th 2014



5968 Comments


Every album artwork of these peeps is the same
Every song of these peeps is the same

Will probably check this anywho I liked the last album

Wadlez
January 6th 2014



3779 Comments


Xenon the xequel



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