Review Summary: Dio's disaster.
You know a metal band is completely uninspired when they decide to name one of their albums Angry machines
. “Angry machines”? Really? There is a possible explanation for this, however. Maybe it was Dio's way of describing the half-hearted, unoriginal metal sound that flooded the band's seventh studio album, making it ever so slightly worse than Strange Highways
. Contextually speaking, Angry Machines
marks the end of a brief albeit somewhat disastrous era for Dio himself, not to mention what was left of his own band in the mid 90s. As a result, a great loss of existing long-time fans and poor record sales ensued, and it's not hard to realize why this all happened.
, from the very first moment of opener “Institutional Man”'s dull, monotonous guitar chords, seems to drag on forever, yet it is almost ten minutes shorter than its predecessor. Everything is relatively slow to mid-paced, but even when the band finally decide to speed up, as on “Don't tell the Kids”, it feels like a sorely missed opportunity which should have been taken care of sooner rather than later. Throughout the album, and this is probably a direct cause of the sloppy production values, the instrumental performance lacks so much. The drum work is decent enough on its own, but the rest of the rhythm section fails to reach even the same level of quality as that of Strange Machines
. As much as it would pain me to say this, Dio's vocals are one of the worst flaws of Angry Machines
. He sounds evidently tired with himself here, and together with a sub-par instrumental performance, it makes for a complete mess of a sound. Thus by the time ten minutes have passed, the listener will most likely switch off altogether, as the dull remains of “Black” come to an end.
Not everything is terrible here however, but you really have to do a lot of deep digging to find anything redeeming or memorable about Angry Machines
. There are songs where Dio sings better than we ever expected him to, as on beautiful closer “This is your Life”. In fact, the album's closer is one of the best, most enchanting songs to have ever graced Dio's career, and it's not even down to the instrumentation. In fact, the majority of the song feels more like a classical piece than it does a so-so heavy metal tune. With Dio's angelic vocal performance (proving quite operatic as well), it really is one of the two moments on the album where you will nod your head in approval. “Double Monday”, for the first two minutes, suffers in much the same way as many of the other songs do, that is, until the excellent acoustic guitar-led mid-section. Here is where the band's instrumental performance comes together to make a brief thirty-second interlude which indulges in gracious atmosphere rather than an angry metal sound.
However, those two songs barely lift the album out of stagnation, and with the remaining eight songs offering nothing but tepid, tiresome musicianship, it's really difficult to get into Angry machines
at all. Just listen to the album's longest track, “Stay out of my Mind”, which proves both confusing AND unnecessarily lengthy. It drags and drags until the listener is bored to tears (no, that's not an exaggerated statement either), but at least you can get a laugh out of the strange, irrelevant mid-section which sounds as if it should be on a video game soundtrack. To say that Angry Machines
is a disappointment would be an understatement. Strange Highways
was a disappointment. Perhaps even Lock up the Wolves
. Angry machines
is a disaster at best. Thank Dio (God) that his next few albums would retain the magic of his best work.