Into The Night World
The Swedish SID-Metal progenitors have returned with their seventh release, only just two years after the band’s unfortunately not as well-received concept album, Phantom Shadow. It was very hard for me personally to get into that one and I preferred the much more compact Rise Of A Digital Nation vastly over it. Strangely enough, Into The Night World very much feels like a companion piece to Rise Of A Digital Nation, rather than a separate album to itself and it’s even a few minutes shorter to boot. The difference here is there are a few much stronger tracks, more defined guitar solos and even some of the alternative rock that we found a welcome departure from their heavier material during the Overworld and A View From The End Of The World years. The listening pace for the album also seems to take a little while longer than it’s metaphorical sister release, as more than a couple of these tracks are much longer than you would expect. That being said, Into The Night World contains no lengthy epics. It is very much a post-prime disc that shows these Swedes still have it, and that the machine hasn’t become a ghost quite yet.
On my first listen, I didn’t quite get into opener and single “My Dragons Will Decimate” but around the second time, I found the chorus a bit punchier than it was at first. It wasn’t as easy to get into as some of the band’s more notable tracks like “Player One” and “Force Feedback” but it does hold it’s own among their more celebrated numbers. Especially for the simple fact that the guitar playing is getting much better and feels worthy of the name “power metal.” People have tried to throw the “emo” tag on these guys forever, but even though Gaz’s vocals can sound a little bit different than what we’re used to in this kind of music, there’s no doubting how much metal they’ve pumped into the system this time around. Machinae Supremacy actually sound like a mechaniloid poised to conquer and destroy all in their paths with this one and that’s a good thing in my book. I’m getting some stronger sing-alongs like “Twe27ySeven”, “Space Boat”, “Stars Had To Die So You Could Live” and “Dream Sequence” for starters. You may find a couple more standouts here, but I found Gaz’s choruses relatively hard-hitting, even despite the fact that a few of these might be a bit less metallic than we’d want. But there’s no doubting that Machinae Supremacy are just as good of a rock act as they are when they’re playing metal, so I’m not really all that upset with a more rock-influenced album in some instances.
Another thing that I should mention here is the use of SID this time around. As you may very well know, I’m a huge fan of video game soundtracks and when chiptunes are played well enough; I can judge those too. I especially love the SID utilized on the band’s single “My Dragons Will Decimate” as it sounds like dungeon music and feels rather ominous. But as usual, most of the SID pieces here feel like real work has been put into them, which it has – these guys are also working with several game developers now to turn these compositions into literal video game soundtracks and that is phenomenal. The band also decided to craft a short little tribute instrumental called “SID Metal Legacy” to further cement their long lasting tenure in this business, but I feel it was a little rushed and have similar complaints on a few of the other songs that just don’t stick with me as well as some of the highlights I’ve mentioned. I will say that “Beast Engine” is a bit stronger for me on the second listen, and the solo piece is quite extravagant and unexpected; which only makes for a better listen as far as I’m concerned.
That being said, Into The Night World is definitely more of a rock record than it is a metal release. It’s also a bit more simplistic in some areas than some of the band’s earlier and more well-received releases. It’s a step up from the blandness of Phantom Shadow and shows that the band are moving in the right direction, but may have needed a little more time in the oven before such an unexpected release. Not even I expected this one to release right at the cusp of the new year, when most magazines are already preparing their “end of year” lists. Even so, you can’t exactly blame them for some of these rushes. As I said before, the band are working with a lot of different developers these days and composing strong pieces for actual games as well as single albums is a bit of an undertaking for anyone. Just be glad that the SID-masters were able to get this one out just in time for the holidays, and it’ll make a good stocking stuffer for any fan of both rock music and gaming. The machine marches ever onward…