The Machine – Calmer Than You Are album review

Holland’s doom/stoner scene, centered around the yearly Roadburn festival, has been strong for a while now.  I assume it’s because of the extremely non-surprising fact that fans of the doom/stoner genre tend to be, er, stoners, and dig the weed situation in Northwest Europe.  So why not make an excuse to go there?  Whatever the reason, the place is crawling with that sort of noise, and they have now expectorated The Machine.

If exquisite, careful songcraft is a priority for you then you should probably not get The Machine’s Calmer Than You Are. There is little that resembles a standard verse/chorus on the entire album.  What you do have is plenty of post grunge fuzz driven by endlessly pounding drums.  And the drummer truly is the hero here.  There’s a type out there that likes the endless repetition of the heavy-if-only-moderately interesting guitar riff.  I am not that type.  I can appreciate a little feeling put into pounding the drums, however, and we are well rewarded here.  Never more than during the twelve-minute highlight of the album “Sphere (… or Kneiter)”.  Even the rest of the band finally steps up and attempts to match the skinsman in effort and it mostly works.  At the best parts of the extended solo section they get past the vague artsy heaviness and almost manage to reconcile their modern metallic racket with this music’s hippie forefathers.

Oddly enough they save their most straightforward material for the final quarter of the album right after “(… or Kneiter)”.  Apparently “kneiter” means “ joint” in dutch slang, I suppose they are merely trying to wake up the green fiends who took the title too literally.  “5×4” could have almost been Stone Temple Pilots on a drugged out b-side and “Repose” gets points just because the opening drum/guitar riff sounds like “Mustang Sally” by way of Devo on a steady diet of downers.

The Machine’s last album “Drie” was apparently a 70+ minute album of heavy stoner jams.  I have not heard it and I do not wish to.  They have done well to pare down their baser jam-rock instincts and put out this 45- minute effort.  Good try, gentlemen.  Next time let’s slice it down a little more.

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