The Final Cull
4/14/2016 - Review by: Eric Compton
Okay, Steve Smyth... Dragonlord, Forbidden, Nevermore, Testament and Vicious Rumors have all "axed" him to lay down riffs. Aside from his active roles in The Esseness Project and Sweet Leaf comes one of his most exciting efforts yet – the sophomore release for his band One Machine. The group consists of Smyth, guitarist Jamie Hunt (ex-Biomechanical), bassist Stefano Selvatico (Savage Messiah), drummer Michele Sanna (Coma) and vocalist Chris Hawkins (Endeavour). The album was recorded at Death Island in Denmark and mixed/mastered by the esteemed Tue Madsen (who also played sitar on a song) and produced by Smyth.
Does this veteran presence make for a good "band"?
Band is such a strong word these days. While it would be easy to assume this is a computer arrangement of swapping mp3 riffs...the band spent nine days together in the studio eating, sleeping and recording. Maybe they tour, maybe they don't but in this day and age spending time in an actual studio is valuable. I think that chemistry, albeit short-lived, probably conveys to the music. The duo of Smyth and Madsen behind the knobs makes 'The Final Cull' a heavy modern-sounding thrash record. It is a down-tuned beast at times but spaces the intensity out with well-thought out arrangements and melodies that are infectious.
"Ashes in the Sky" reflects the vibe of the album perfectly. The track begins with some softer acoustic strings and soothing vocals that wouldn't be a far cry from Alice in Chains. At the 2:30 mark the song shifts into heavier electric riffs and solos that cascade to match Hawkin's ascending vocal notes. The track ends with the sweeping sounds of a strong wind storm. That's brilliantly written, arranged and performed and showcases the multi-dimensional talent of the band. The album's title track displays that same "out of the box" mentality with an orchestra intro before exploding with cymbals and double bass at the minute mark. Hawkins displays a really high vocal register on this song, counterbalancing what amounts to be a "Phil Anselmo" rage on opener "Forewarning". The group show off their extreme backgrounds on blistering cuts "Screaming for Light" and "New Motive Power".
While it is hard to pinpoint exactly which genre One Machine falls into, the foundation is built on heavy thrash. The Final Cull' is a bit experimental at times, contains pieces of power and progressive metal and showcases a wide variety of skill sets to generate power and persuasion. I love this album and really hope for more material like it in the future.
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