In 2017, the Arizona trio of Kyle Kennedy, Matt Underwood, and Matt Mutterperl made their debut as Realize with Demolition; now signed to prominent metal label Relapse, the band has taken its unyielding brand of industrialized metal further with Machine Violence. Immediately noticeable on the record is the excellent percussive sound, with the seemingly whiplash tonality of organic drums, but it’s all achieved through the uncompromising precision of programming. The atmospheres are full of tension and mechanical fury that ignite when the down-tuned bass and guitar riffs enter like a sentient torture factory.
The instrumentals often descend into a blistering cacophonies of rhythmic noise and distortion, the faintest hints of actually melodic riffs hidden within its layered production – without a good pair of headphones, it can be difficult to discern, but when you do, it’s rewarding to hear that there is actual songwriting at play. Such is the case with “Ghost in the Void,” the subtle squeals of harmonic feedback giving the unrelenting brutality a sense of pleading, as if even the machine itself wants the pain to stop, only to take more pleasure in it when the end section is unleashed. Similarly, the groans of guitar on “Hypermech” and “Slag Pile” evoke the moaning hunger of a ravenous monstrosity, the percussive assault being especially striking on the former track – it’s hard to believe that it’s all programmed. “Simulated World Down” and “Disappear” are almost reminiscent of Fear Factory’s earlier material, the rhythmic bass and screaming guitar riffs creating haunting atmospheres that other bands of this ilk would’ve relegated to keyboards, with the short “Heavy Legs in the Mansion” ending the album with a meditative acoustic guitar interlude, the metallic lo-fi sound giving the track a decidedly melancholy and eerie ambience. Throughout Machine Violence, Kennedy’s guttural vocals recall the best of the genre’s beginnings, but without so much of the throaty growl inherent to extreme metal, preferring the subtlety of down-pitched effects. The grunts and shouts of “Melted Base” and “Slag Pile,” adorned with echo effects really evoke the early sounds of Pitch Shifter, while the brute force roars of “Gateway Trial” are simply ferocious.
Machine Violence is aptly named, for the band employed no microphones or amplifiers in the recording process, making the record a true show of technological force that for many would lack the ambient punch and sonic depth that more traditional methods inherently offer; most bands would at least blend the analog and the digital, but not Realize – this is the terrifying voice of a machine on the warpath, and its oppressive and monolithic sound has the potential to repel some of even the most ardent metalheads. Think you can withstand it?