Nov 2021 30

News BannerMachines with Human Skin
Album: Transience
Category: Industrial / Rock
Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2021-11-05


“This time, I’ll be stronger.” So sings Adrian Halo in the opening track of his latest album as Machines with Human Skin, titled Transience, and it’s fair to say that he makes good on this declaration. Within the record’s nine tracks, Halo demonstrates a marked refinement of his particular brand of industrialized rock, particularly in the lyrical and vocal department – certainly, the themes of angst, perseverance, and the fortification of one’s own identity remain, drawing easy parallels to the likes of Nine Inch Nails or Stabbing Westward. Halo is clearly dealing with these issues on a very direct and personal level, and as on the preceding Anagnorisis album, there are moments when the cadence feels slightly incongruent with the musical rhythm… but in contrast with that album, these moments are further and fewer between as Halo has made the effort to hone his writing down to that more polished state. This applies to virtually every component of Transience, from his layered and more harmonious vocal performance to the instrumentation, the production bearing a distinct ‘90s flavor that stands just shy of pristine, but leagues above the demo-esque quality of the last album. The guitars are noisy, grimy, and growl with the same fervor as Halo’s voice, but they are controlled without sounding mechanical. The bass guitar has a nice acidic tone that shines through Jules Seifert’s mix, occasionally popping through as in the solo for “The Tide” sounding like something Charles Levi would’ve conjured, or in the funky grooves of “Invisible” and “Invalidate.” “Watch It Burn” is perhaps the most notable track on the album, the legendary John Fryer lending his signature polish to make the song sparkle; something about Halo’s layered vocal and indeed the very melody of the chorus is very reminiscent of The Knife’s Fever Ray, and it just makes for a great song. The same can be said of the closing “Needing You” and the especially jaunty “Locked Out,” its organs and Roger Ebner’s gorgeous saxophone work feeling like Sister Machine Gun covering Concrete Blonde (or vice versa?), while the steely bass tone reminds this listener of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” On the other hand, the title track bears the driving straightforwardness of the WaxTrax! era with its simple two-chord progression and pulsing synths particularly evocative of Lead into Gold; the only thing that could’ve improved this song would’ve been some more dynamic drum tones just for a touch of added power, but those roaring guitars are compensation enough. This writer has to grin at the possibility that at least some of Adrian Halo’s lyrical venom on this record is directed at him, spitting back at the criticism wrought upon Anagnorisis, and given the strides the artist has made on Transience, it is simply a delight to be able to eat those words. May he continue this ascending trajectory to make Machines with Human Skin a truly remarkable machine/rock entity. Bravo!
Track list:

  1. The Tide
  2. Invisible
  3. Cut You Out
  4. Watch It Burn [John Fryer Mix]
  5. Locked Out
  6. Transience
  7. Invalidate
  8. Other Me
  9. Needing You

Machines with Human Skin
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Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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