Mechina
Progenitor


3.5
great

Review

by PostMesmeric USER (86 Reviews)
January 5th, 2016 | 40 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Cycling Tides of the Cosmic Sea

Chicago’s Mechina isn’t a group known for their subtlety or restraint. The group has been slamming their way through the 2010’s with one of the weirdest, most out-there conceptual universes in metal today, but they’ve done so in an oddly confident way. Now five studio LPs in, Mechina are turning the gears once again, swimming the waters of space and time. Actually, “swimming” isn’t the best word. More like “treading.” Mechina’s Progenitor doesn’t do much new at all. It uses many of the same ideas, the same visions, the same directions across its entire length. It’s a safe record, but it’s a safe record that still manages to provide enough heaviness and texture to be worth experiencing. And that’s easily the most impressive thing about Progenitor: for all its cycles, it still sounds cosmic.

The conceptual nature of Mechina’s work has become a cornerstone of their extensive discography, but its indulgence on spacey, epic, bombastic battlecries has ranged from the metaphysical to the just plain silly. Progenitor continues that trend with more interplanetary shenanigans than your average listener can take. Mechina’s narrative is simply impenetrable at this point, so unless you’ve been tracking the band’s yarns since Day 1, Progenitor’s deeper meaning won’t be visible whatsoever. It’s not a progressive metal album that can stand alone, but you might find the elegant and poetic lyrics to offer some minor curiosity for you throughout the listen. Just don’t expect much context or clarity.

But even if you ignore the infinite rabbit hole that is Mechina’s universe, the band’s indulgent and fully anthemic music simply can’t be ignored. Taking cues from heavy metal mainstays like Fear Factory and jacking in bombastic and operatic composing in the realm of Ayreon, Mechina continue to equip starship fleets of soaring strings and slamming riffs. The music reaches out as far as it possibly can, as nearly every track on Progenitor just rises with at least one often-lengthy moment of crescendo-ing climax (though it frequently doubles down and aims for more). “Cryoshock” is an echoing slammer with the siren calls of Mel Rose gently drifting across tumultuous riffs. Bringing Rose back for the new record was a strong decision, as her vocals juxtapose well against the heavy metal aesthetic, especially on “The Horizon Effect”, her best performance on the album.

In fact, the rougher vocals are actually quite spaced-out, which is a nice choice, but one that gives Progenitor a bit less bite than other metal albums of its subgenre. The exceptions (most of which sit in the latter half of the LP) include “Planetfall”, a full-on call to arms packed with dense percussion, a great guitar solo finisher, and echoing metal yells. It’s blistering and borderline claustrophobic, but it’s a nice turnaround from the more symphonic tracks from the middle segments of the record. The title track closes out the record with more uplifting melodies and all the same spiraling climactic soars that so much of the album delivers already. It’s not as heavy as other tracks like “Anagenesis” or “Planetfall” before it, but it still feels like a fitting closer for the record, albeit an unsurprising one.

And that brings it all together: Progenitor isn’t that distinctive of a record. Mechina aren’t much for invention beyond their own narrative ambition. Progenitor doesn’t really do anything too new for the group, aside from a slightly stronger emphasis on cleaner vocals. It’s dense and often the tracks will blend together into a galactic cyclone; it’s not a record that can be listened to in parts. It’s easy to think of it as the score of a movie, not a progressive record that you can instantly sit down and ponder over. Even the biggest mindbenders of technical or progressive records tend to have bits of distinction or accessibility. Progenitor isn’t really that accommodating or notable in either regard.

Progenitor is a lot to take in, and I’d be lying if I said that every single moment Mechina uses feels honed and essential, but the amount of scope and ambition driven into this LP’s aesthetic is still something impressive. The subtle traces of curiosity are easy to overlook behind enormous waves of metal edge and operatic compositions, and although a few more risks could’ve been taken, Progenitor is still a cosmic blend of rhythmic metal with symphonic texture. There isn’t too much here that Mechina hasn’t done before, but for a band that’s been sticking to their guns for this long, it’s pretty impressive to see the clock gears still free of rust. For now, anyway.



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user ratings (66)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Darkwatch025
January 6th 2016


364 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This is my favorite album of the year so far! To my ears, this is the best they've ever done. I like every song on the album and they all flow perfectly together. The use of more clean vocals is also a plus. The two tracks with female vocals change things up too. Definitely their best since Empyrean.

Confucius
January 6th 2016


505 Comments


It's okay

Metalstyles
Emeritus
January 7th 2016


8574 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Great review, the best Mechina has on this site. The way you describe the album makes it sound fantastic to my ears and if it's as good as Acheron, I'll be more than content. Will listen soon enough.

Michichachi
January 9th 2016


48 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great album

InFlamesWeThrash666
January 9th 2016


9513 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Haven't listened to this band since Empyrean came out. Will give this a chance

Digging: Malokarpatan - Nordkarpatenland

SonofSnow
January 15th 2016


1780 Comments


This is a fun record

BallsToTheWall
January 16th 2016


49922 Comments


Lovin Cryoshock.

Digging: Saviour - A Lunar Rose

PostMesmeric
January 17th 2016


774 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Cryoshock" and "The Horizon Effect" are easily my favorites on this LP.

Flugmorph
February 8th 2016


22496 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

sounds like a symphonic take on fear factory

Flugmorph
February 8th 2016


22496 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

the autotune is painful to listen to. dont think i will like this

FrozenVain
May 7th 2016


3043 Comments


This band just spits out albums. Too bad none of them are any good.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
August 7th 2016


15058 Comments


finally getting around to Acheron today. so much better than xenon

XfingTheSullen
January 1st 2017


4457 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

shit, a new album is already out. Dec 31 actually. These guys are fast as shit workers.



I know bands who take 5 years between albums, and their albums are worse

TundraL5Z
November 12th 2018


3834 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

They somehow made Cryoshock sound worse with the Compendium version of the song, I'm shocked by how less punch the guitars have

Flugmorph
November 12th 2018


22496 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

bet i would lower my rating if id jam this again today

TundraL5Z
November 12th 2018


3834 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

They basically remastered all of their albums with the "compendium" versions, must have been too busy with that to make a new album this year, that's my guess anyway (although... there is still December... so there's still a chance of a release this year... lol)

artiswar
November 12th 2018


9936 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Cryoshock goes so fucking hard

TundraL5Z
November 12th 2018


3834 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah it does, but have you heard the compendium version?

artiswar
November 12th 2018


9936 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I don't know what that is, remix I'm guessing?

TundraL5Z
November 12th 2018


3834 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yup, every album was remastered and dropped on the same day this year, on spotify it's the ones that say 2018 release date on them



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