When you get to a certain age, you can look back to all the music you have listened to in the past couple of decades. When I look to myself I think I am quite open minded and willing to listen to a lot of different styles. No,..I don't like disco and I totally hate Dutch sung, no quality levenslied or smartlappen. (please check Wikipedia when you are interested) Nevertheless, like most other people, I go through many phases and my musical taste adepts to the way I feel. From a period of lighter progressive rock and jazz rock, my interests have shifted slightly toward a more heavy form of fusion and heavy progressive metal; grunts included. By the way, instrumental guitar music seems to continue as my number one type of music since forever.
This intro leads us to an astonishing Dutch band called Selfmachine, who play a mean form of smartlappen, sorry,.. metal in the most intense way. Here I have to quote the bands accompanying info: “Groove and melody, heaviness and catchiness. These are a just couple of words describing the sound of Selfmachine. Like a bearded Michael Jackson driving a monster truck through the hills of Teletubbieland”. I rest my case. Selfmachine goes back to when bass player Mark Brekelmans left Xystus after the project Equilibrio (2008, see review) to gather a bunch of like-minded musicians to create their own music. The result is a stunning album which will be distributed worldwide. Along the way Selfmachine came to consist of Brekelmans on bass, lead vocalist Steven Leijen, guitarists John Brok and Michael Hansen and drummer Ben Scheffers.
Like I mentioned above, Selfmachine's music is intense, but is also loud, harsh and brutal. But in a way it is melodic, grooving and regarding their video of the opening track Breathe To Aspire, pretty much self-deprecating. Musically this band uses heavy rhythms Sepultura style, like in Massive Luxury Overdose; a song that starts with sounds my old PC used to make when a cell phone came to close. Other influences come from alternative metal, rock and progressive music. Listen to the mighty epic of the album; Closing Statement which has all the necessary elements for a heavier version of the typical progressive rock epic. The song builds up nicely with melancholic vocal elements towards a heavy alternative riffing part that grows into an all-time monster, mixing heavy grunts with an emotional normal voice. Coming to that voice, sometimes the vocals can lift a band's music to another level. Here we have a vocalist; Steven Leijen, who is capable of screaming and grunting, but also has a beautiful normal singing voice. Listen to the opening part of Becoming The Line and you will be convinced of the quality of this vocalist. Absolute favourite of the album for me is Smother The Sun; a full speed heavy monster which holds all the elements that might be typical for Selfmachine. I think the way the music has been mixed is just fabulous: the guitars are crunchy, heavy, but still clear and the solos are tasteful. Listen to Void and you will be stunned about the way the sounds all fit together without getting into one big blur. Selfmachine's rhythm machine make sure the foundation of every composition is steady as a rock, the drum sound is strong and Mark Brekelmans bass has a cool roar when it's needed.
Selfmachine has surprised me with a fabulous debut album that mixes several styles to its own identity. Broadcast Your Identity will kick you in the bollocks with their sound, and hey,.. you will love it!
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Robert James Pashman)
Where to buy?