Review Summary: A true hunter weeps at a merciless killing.
Founded in San Diego in 1991, the God Machine was a three-piece that lived and performed mainly in the UK where they signed with the independent label Fiction Records. After releasing several EP's, they debuted with the acclaimed album 'Scenes From the Second Storey' in 1993. They were finished recording and mixing a follow-up when bass player Jimmy Fernandez died from a cancerous brain tumor in may 1994. The two remaining members of the God Machine, Robin Proper-Sheppard (guitar/vocals) and Ronald Austin (drums) decided to disband, but not before releasing One Last Laugh In A Place Of Dying... . Proper-Sheppard eventually went on to form Sophia while Ronald Austin refrained from the spotlights.
It is often mistakenly claimed that the album was not finished, possibly based on the lack of eastern sounds and intriguing samples in comparison with the predecessor. And while it is true that 'One Last Laugh In A Place Of Dying...' does not have the same consistency as the debut, its heights easily outshine the best of 'Scenes From the Second Storey'. Seemingly prescient, the album is the musical equivalent of a black hole - an imposingly dark, all-absorbing entity. From the monotone industrial riffs combined with tribal drumming of 'The Tremolo Song' to the haunting piano in the closing track, the album exhales an unsettling, desolate, in retrospect even morbid atmosphere. The highlight of the album - and in extension of their whole discography - is the goosebumps-inducing 'In Bad Dreams'. The heart-broken, off-key vocals of Proper-Sheppard depict loneliness and disconsolation in such a vulnerable way and without any frills that it might feel unfinished.
There is little place for happiness when listening to this album, but its likely that this was exactly what the God Machine was aiming for. If you're in a darksome spirit, this impressive epitaph is what you can reach for.
Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off
This is a good album, but it definitely doesn't compare to the debut. Also, I'm curious where you're getting your facts from because any interview I've ever seen has had the band mention that the album wasn't totally finished, and that all work stopped after their bass player's death.
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Album Rating: 4.0
They recorded this album in Prague at the end of 1993, and afterwards they returned to London. It was back in London that Fernandez fell into a coma (20 May) and was rushed to the Royal Free Hospital where he died 3 days later. Maybe they were thinking about rerecording or remixing certain passages, but the fact that they returned from Prague is reason enough to believe that the album was finished. Even if they would have changed some things, the final product would not have been significantly different. They did change the title and album art however, and in the liner notes they dedicate the album to Fernandez. See also http://thegodmachine.voila.net/biography.html ; an unofficial website (one of the few around). They are not correct about the date on which he fell into a coma though - or my memory is incorrect ;). Also, under the 'Press>1994' tab, "The band had just completed their second album, which will be released later this year."; "THE GOD MACHINE are to go ahead with the release of their new album “One Last Laugh In A Place Of Dying” which was completed just before bassist Jimmy Fernandez died from a brain tumour. The album will be released by Fiction on September 12".
Its a little surprising how little known this band is outside the Benelux; but that could have to do with the fact that Proper-Sheppard lived in Belgium for quite some time, and Sophia became big in that country first as well.
I think that both albums are close (both are 4*) , but as I said in the review, the heights on this album are amazing, especially baring in mind what would happen with Fernandez - it makes songs like Painless so poignant. Scenes From the Second Storey is more hardrock oriented, with strong faster paced songs while the slower songs ('The Blind Man', 'Temptation') tend to drag on. I'm not able to prefer one of the two over eachother, but I do prefer to play this one as it features 'In Bad Dreams'.
For those interested: Ronald Austin now lives in London and is involved in producing movies. Also, the profile image of Sophia (http://www.sputnikmusic.com/bands/Sophia/12070/) is horribly unrelated.
Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off
Well, who could argue with the wall-o-text? Anyway, you seem to know a lot more about the making of this album than I do. I do know that I prefer the huge sound and darker, heavier vibes of their debut. There are songs on this album that just don't feel finished... even if they actually are, I guess.
Album Rating: 3.0
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Album Rating: 2.5
“In Bad Dreams” is something of a classic. Don’t get much out of the rest though.
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It’s a more grounded sort of rock than the usual fodder. A reigned in helmet and I like me helmet reigned in.
Their other album is a classic, try that one.
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