Review Summary: There's some fun to be had here, even though it lacks replay value.
Deathcore has undergone a bit of an upheaval in recent memory. While bands like Chelsea Grin chose to stay with their tried-and-true, chug-heavy writing formula, and acts like Infant Annihilator stuck with what they knew - excessive wankery under the guise of technicality - there has been an influx of new life injected into the genre. Slight as that influx may be, such examples of this new life are bands like Shadow of Intent, who while proficient musically aren’t overbearing about it to a fault. American deathcore quartet The Last Ten Seconds of Life haven’t quite caught up with them yet, but perhaps that’s not a major issue; Machina Non Grata
is a decent release nonetheless, with a few curveballs thrown in the mix.
Despite what the band does right, the opening stretch of “Glory” and “Sweet Chin Music” could easily be skipped; both are standard, chuggy tracks that hearken back to the likes of Soulless Hymns
combined with the last Chelsea Grin album. “Psychophrenia” is where the album truly gets going, chugging along similarly to the tracks that precede it while combining it with slightly more engaging instrumentation, most notably thanks to drummer David Boughter’s contributions to the song. “These Guns Are Made for Shootin’” and “Tsavo” operate in a similar manner; while not groundbreaking, it’s easy to understand their appeal. Most of this album’s fun is short-lived, a fairly standard occurrence for a deathcore album in this tier. Regardless, there’s plenty to enjoy early on if you’re into this style of music.
While the majority of the album is standard downtempo-driven deathcore, I would be doing you, the reader, a disservice by not mentioning the few curveballs that Machina Non Grata
has in its bag of tricks. “Aphrodite” and “Soul Erased” in particular feature a light amount of clean vocals, which is a rarity in the genre. Unlike other efforts from deathcore bands over the past few years, notably Suicide Silence, this addition is tastefully implemented, steering clear from the “teehee”’s that were memed incessantly since “Doris” was released in the middle of 2017. Closer “Machina Non Grata” is undoubtedly the star of the show on this album, albeit a tad unrefined; at five minutes and forty-eight seconds in length, the band is seen building up a serene atmosphere only to transition it into their usual chug-heavy writing halfway through.
I don’t foresee this making many “album of the year” lists, as despite its occasional curveballs and more engaging moments, this is still a standard, by-the-numbers deathcore album. The Last Ten Seconds of Life has never been a top-tier band even by the standards of the genre they’ve worked within for the past near-decade. Even with that being said, there’s plenty of cheap thrills to be had here; this album is still a solid heavy affair, despite variation and dynamics being sparse. Vocalist John Robert C. has a powerful timbre even if he’s no Greg Puciato in terms of overall versatility. The album is fun
for the first few listens, even if it’s short-lived. There’s enough here to satisfy fans of the band and of the genre in question, it’s just not the type of album that can stack up against the likes of last year’s Samsara
from The Breathing Process. And that’s okay.