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Machinae Supremacy – “Phantom Shadow” 2014

 Machinae Supremacy – “Phantom Shadow”
LABEL: Spinefarm Records
YEAR: 2014
GENRE: Power Metal with various influences
RATING: 7.0 / 10

Machinae Supremacy from Luleå, Sweden, have been around since 2000, and they seem to be continously hard at work. They have released seven full-length albums during these years, and in the meantime they have pushed out free-for-download singles and compilations. I’d like to steal a genre description from the almighty Metal Archives: “The band calls its style SID Metal (Alternative/Power Metal mixed with SidStation that features the SID chip of the Commodore 64).” What this means is: video game power metal. And it really is a great idea!

We all (well, TK, CÄ and me) reviewed the band’s last album, “Rise of a Digital Nation”, on Against The Wall two years ago, and what I said then was the following: “Video game power metal with more than a little Finnish touch. Not like Daylight Dies [or Insomnium], but instead the school of Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica.”

Nothing much has changed since that last album, but I tried to get at “Phantom Shadow” with a different approach. And when “Rise of a Digital Nation” became sort of a novelty for me during those few weeks in 2012, “Phantom Shadow” now stands out as a work of art worth hanging on to. And I don’t hear much Finnish influences anymore. The singer sounds almost Italian at times (I’m sorry, that’s not a nice thing to say), but the music is very unique and hard to fit on any map.

On the negative side, we have the length of the album. More than one hour of music is hard to digest, even though it’s as inspired as on “Phantom Shadow” (I’ll say it again: my preference for an album is a running time of 30-40 minutes, or, without fillers, an EP that’s 15-25 minutes). If this is a concept album, I could understand how a “big” story needs a lot of space to be told, and for periods of time I think that this might be the case here. But at the same time there are tracks that differ very much in style (I don’t know about the lyrics) so that speaks against that argument. The fact is though, I have never managed to play through the complete album in one sitting.

I conlusion, I want to say that the video game power metal of Machinae Supremacy is really fun to listen to, and I like the out-of-place songs plus the ones with the most SID arrangements the best. It wouldn’t hurt to shorten things down a bit, but none of the material is bad. I like how the song “Europa” reminds me of the old YouTube classic “Drifting” (by Andy McKee) and the Game Of Thrones theme mixed together, and I look forward to hearing the band’s next album in a couple of years.

Review by: MJ

Categorised as: MJ | Reviews

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