"Inside the Machine"

(Metal Blade)

01. Seed of Destruction
02. Inside the Machine
03. Pitch Black
04. Plague Angel
05. Lidless Eyes
06. Armageddon
07. Nailed Down
08. Let the World Burn
09. Into Pain
10. This Ending

RATING: 8/10

A CANOROUS QUINTET was one of those names you saw everywhere in the 1990's, even if their albums (in the USA, anyway) remained scarce imports and they never made the impact of contemporaries like DARK TRANQUILLITY or IN FLAMES. After disbanding in 1998, with various members appearing in AMON AMARTH, GUIDANCE OF SIN and NIDEN DIV. 187, the band reformed under a new name and now makes their worldwide "debut" — talk about your "overnight sensations" years in the making!

Simple, straightforward, melodic Swedish death metal is the name of the game here. These guys let the songs do the talking here — their performances are so in sync, and their presentation so matter-of-fact, it takes a couple listens to realize these are some seriously catchy and impressive tunes being laid down here. While there is a slightly more modern feel to the overall production, it's not a result of clean vocals, hardcore breakdowns, or any other such amenities — this is melodic death that could have easily come out in the late 1990's, and it's stronger and more enjoyable for its purity of expression.

The building blocks of THIS ENDING's winning sound are the basics — compelling choruses, swirling guitar melodies, busy thrash riffing, and straightforward, stripped-down verses almost militaristic in their lock-stepping forward propulsion. Listen to the beginning of "Lidless Eyes" for proof of the band's sly genius — a simple, almost rudimentary riff follows the drumbeat precisely. But almost immediately, a wan and wistful guitar melody weaves itself around that skeletal framework, like a constrictor sidling around its victim, and raises the song from a plodding exercise to a hair-raising, attention-grabbing number.

I do think some of the most over-the-top reviews I've seen of "Inside the Machine" are being given more for the band's pedigree than this album – much like a lifetime achievement Oscar given to a great actor in the twilight of their career. THIS ENDING deserves more attention, on their own merits, than that. The band's very name is a misnomer; this is a beginning, one hopes, and not just a nice capper to an unheralded run under another name. "Inside the Machine" stands on its own as a solid and accessible, deceptively deep well of Swedish death ideas, proving there's always room in any genre for more bands who are doing it right.


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