16th July 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Initially intended as a straight follow up to their 2019 debut, Digital Scars, Chemical Violence evolved as a more technoindustrial work, with less primacy given to the guitars. But having said that, the band explain that they were keen to present a range of elements across the album: ‘We don’t want to be pigeonholed into one sub-genre so all the songs have their own flavor. Retro and post style, Electronic, driven guitar, grinding Noisecore and Aggrotech elements, Synth bass, Drum dominant. We don’t want to be pigeonholed into one sub-genre so all the songs have their own flavor. Retro and post style, Electronic, driven guitar, grinding Noisecore and Aggrotech elements, Synth bass, Drum dominant.’

The album slams straight in with the shuddering synths and thumping beats with the hard-edged stomp of ‘Prototype’. The vocals are gnarly, mangled, snarling, robotic – yes, derivative of Twitch era Ministry and a million Wax Trax! releases from 86-89, but that’s entirely the idea.

It was The Wedding Present who turned a negative music review into a T-Shirt bearing the slogan ‘all the songs sound the same’ and while it served to turn the criticism back on itself, it raises the very fair question of ‘what’s the problem?’ Certain genres particularly require a significant level of sameness.

Dance music is necessarily constructed around a narrow range of tempos, and this strain of electro-centric industrial is in many respects, an aggressive rendition of dance music (no, I’m not going to call it fucking EDM. Or EBM, either. Because there is just so much tribal wankery around genres, and rebranding shit doesn’t make it new shit, it just makes it the same shit rebranded. I never blame bands for this: it’s a press and marketing thing.

Chemical Violence most definitely isn’t shit – it’s an astute work that sees the band really exploit the genre forms to their optimum reach, and the point is that the further you delve into a genre, the more important the details become. Malice Machine know this, and this album is the evidence. ‘Dead Circuit’ presents the grinding sleaze of PIG, while ‘Machine Hate’ is pure insistent groove that’s overtly dance – most definitely drum dominant – but clearly has its grimy roots in that Chicago c86 sound. Flipping that, ‘Techno Pagan’ goes full raging Ministry industrial metal in the vein of ‘Thieves’. It wraps up with a killer rendition of Tubeway Army’s ‘Down in the Park’ that’s quite a shift, being both organic and robotic at the same time, and very much captures the stark spirit of the original. Covered by so many, from Marilyn Manson to Foo Fighters, and it’s become a synth-goth classic. Malice Machine seem to take some cues from the Christian Death version, but brings something unique to the party as well.

Where Malice Machine succeed with Chemical Violence clearly isn’t in its innovation, but its execution, and they don’t put a foot wrong, making for an album that really is all killer.

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