Music discovery is like love, it’s a wonderful thing!
Hold on a second there Mark, are you really quoting Michael Bolton in a Sepultura review?
Well, dear readers, I had to come up with something as the truth of the matter is I know next to nothing about Sepultura. Sure, I’ve heard of the band. Even listened to the odd song when it has been playing somewhere, but the band has never made it into my collection. As Machine Messiah is their fourteenth album, I thought I better sit up and take notice. Plus, that artwork is extraordinary. While I’m obviously pro-TIDAL Hi-Fi, artwork like this is one of the reasons why I still enjoy collecting vinyl.
So, will this album have what it takes to ensure I become a Sepultura fan?
If the album, and band, can be represented by the lead song and album title Machine Messiah, then I can say unequivocally yes.
Machine Messiah is a sonic wonderland with a slow burn towards each chorus. I love it! The guitar work is exquisite and the first thing I notice is that the recording and mastering are not overly compressed. There is plenty of depth in the soundstage and everything is in its place. That said, the CD is said to have an average dynamic range of 6 out of 20. While I don’t have the CD to compare, that number doesn’t seem accurate as the release on TIDAL Hi-Fi is exceptional and would put many other heavy metal albums to shame.
I Am The Enemy is pure thrash metal. It is hard hitting and doesn’t let up. While I miss the more melodic Machine Messiah, I am thoroughly enjoying the energy of this track. It takes a very special vocalist to sing like this and Derrick Green has a massive amount of talent that I would liken to Corey Taylor’s vocal range and shifting capabilities.
Phantom Self continues to damage my hearing as I can’t help but turn up the volume. Is it worth it? Ask me when I get to 70! I like to feel the music, not just hear it. While I may regret that later on, songs like Phantom Self reach the soul in a way that is simply not possible without excessive volume levels. The oriental tunes throughout this song initially sound a little disjointed but make perfect sense when you hear the epic duel that takes place during the guitar solo.
Alethea thankfully slows the pace to allow the soul to recover from the onslaught that was Phantom Self. That said, while I enjoy the tempo of the instrumental backing, I find that the vocals don’t fit the song well. To me, it sounds as though the vocal track has been unnaturally slowed down.
Iceberg Dances is a purely instrumental track and I love it!
Sworn Oath made the hair on the back of my neck stand up when it started. In an interesting dichotomy, it has a demonic sound, yet not an evil sound. I can’t put my finger on the contrasting factor, but Sworn Oath is thoroughly enjoyable and the vocal delivery is masterful. Actually, one element that I feel is important to note, on the entire album, is how clear the screaming vocals are. With this style of music, vocals can often become incomprehensible, but this certainly isn’t the case with this album.
Resistant Parasites has some killer bass notes. I love the sound of the bass guitar and while I know that everyone wants the guitar solo, I also love it when the bass guitar is featured prominently in a recording. The overall rhythm of this song has me moving uncontrollably.
Silent Violence isn’t a bad song, but I’m not locking in with the beat as much as I would like. It is causing me to listen, rather than become enveloped in the music.
Vandals Nest has a killer guitar intro that immediately reminds me of Metallica’s thrash days. There is so much going on in this song that you simply don’t have an opportunity to rest. Believe it, or not, this is a good thing!
Cyber God is an interesting song as it reminds me of Avenged Sevenfold, yet it is completely unique. The guitar work and drum beat are simply exquisite and world-class. Green’s vocal style is also amazing as he shifts tone and pitch seamlessly throughout the song.
Chosen Skin is a skull shattering song that has a rhythm and attitude that invokes movement in the listener. When I listen to a song like this, I am continually amazed at how music is captured and distributed. It is pure magic and while I know the fundamentals of how it is done, it never ceases to impress me.
Ultraseven No Uta is a song that should have definitely not been included on the album. That said, this is a bonus track that, along with Chosen Skin, is not included on all formats. Ultraseven No Uta is awful and sounds like a pop song with rock and roll distortion added. What was Sepultura thinking?
While Ultraseven No Uta doesn’t encourage me to listen to the album again or stay within the Sepultura catalogue, it doesn’t destroy the sonic perfection and musicality of Machine Messiah.
As regular readers would know, I don’t listen to music for the literal interpretation of lyrical meaning. Thankfully, Sepultura discuss the meaning behind the songs, in the following videos, for us all to enjoy.
Without a doubt, this is one of the best metal albums I have heard in recent years and it will be a welcome additional to my TIDAL Hi-Fi music collection. Most likely I’ll aim to pick up a vinyl release at some stage in the near future, but I’m not sure which one as there are a few versions including an incredible picture disc version.
Yes, I’m still jaded by Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son picture disc, and I acknowledge the limitations of the picture disc format, but I also have a number of picture discs that play extremely well. The problem is knowing if Machine Messiah will be one of them.
Overall, the edition that is available on TIDAL Hi-Fi is nothing short of an unforgettable sonic experience. While I also have a Spotify Premium subscription, when music sounds this good, I wonder why I bother with other streaming services. As John Darko intimated, TIDAL Hi-Fi really is a CD-store in your home.