25 May 2008 // A review by CEOMong
Shihad’s newest album ‘Beautiful Machine’, released in the same month they celebrate their 20th anniversary, is an immense album packed with longish songs (around 4 mins average) radio-friendly but rocky all at the same time, electric and hooky the whole way through. I’d read many reviews of this CD and was braced for “a couple old, couple new sounds, couple metal, couple radio” etc – I must say I am both surprised and fully glad that’s not what I got. All dozen tracks are true to the Shihad sound - and fit together well – but somehow this is a new generation, progressive both in sound and lyrics. One rule for this CD: play it loud and repeatedly.
Opens with ‘One Will Hear the Other’ – allegedly a song Jon created for his daughter – I had been jaundiced by the countless times I’d heard it on the radio, but a great radio-friendly song nonetheless. You all know what I mean. Good rock hook as you descend into ‘Rule The World’ – a good loud song reminiscent of old-school Shihad - but with some mean boot polish.
Slowly build up to a crescendo with ‘Hard To Please’ - lulling one into a an expectant slow headbang, amidst that same old tingle as the controlled beat explodes into a venue-sized chant of the chorus coupled with some good old percussive treatment of the eardrums. Would go off live.
The title track ‘Beautiful Machine’ hits your brain with some hard-out electronica, hard, short, trippy dropping riffs, solid drum kit, and tenacious bass. Out of it “roomy” feel, solid, awesome anthem. And it gets better the louder its cranked. By far my favourite on the album; and right up there in my top ten. Love it. Had to crank it over and over, and I woke the baby, but no stress.
‘Vampires’ latches on the end the machine, and slows it up a bit. Still the good old reliable Shihad riff lurking around in there, poised to strike. Jon warms up and brings the rest of the band into vocal prominence. Solid tune, provides a bit of a breather before being picked up again with ‘Count It Up’ – a rollicking good old foot tapping track that would really get the mosh going.
Track 7, ‘Waiting Round For God’, provides another bit of a lull, lamenting the evils and stupidity of the world (or so it seems to me). “Chameleon” rocks in the room with a bit of a new riff and soft tweaky lyrics, and a strong but mellow bassline, before bashing in the door with an electro-metal-blues gax chorus. Awesomely mental, love the inventiveness of this track.
Solid snare and drum beats roll one into “Eliza” – another slower tune with some Pacifier roots. A good foot tapper – time to get a beer if they were playing live. Tribal drum beats for the lead-in to track 10 ‘The Bible and the Gun”. Sneaky gax riffs in the in-your-face chorus, and a bit of electronica fun to round it out. A reliably solid, grounded sound.
The second to last track, ‘When You Coming Home?’ made me feel like I was gently coming down in some trance party at 4am. Slow deep bass beat and tweaky electronica. A slow, sentimental tune – carries the theme of the album through faithfully. ‘The Prophet’ rounds out the album, a boot stomping bass and traditional gax riff smacks you upside the melon, and opens the door for the sneaky little side melodies that have been carried throughout the album, before rocking into the big chorus that is fully Shihad’s trademark sound. Sensationally methodical beat. Winds down, and sighs off to sleep.
I’m off, back to my cave.