Review: Steamachine “City of Death”

Review: Steamachine “City of Death”

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The last days of August are usually a sad period – the end of summer and all the back to school preparations aren’t exactly what we dream of. But for Polish band Steamachine this span of time was a real blessing – the welcome of their sophomore album City of Death that was released entirely independently.

The guys from Steamachine hail from Northern city of Olsztyn, the capital of the voivodship, but it doesn’t mean that their music is soaked in military spirit. City of Death is a concept album, based on carnival tales in a horror wrapping – when all the entertainment industry transforms into a real nightmare. Their debut album Arktyczny Ogień was performed in their native language, so now there are more possibilities to dive into their creative frenzy and fully absorb ourselves in this horror concept. But stylistically speaking, Steamachine continue to explore this fine line between modern and traditional, never really leaving heavy/thrash metal domain, but always reaching to groove and metalcore space. Wandering betwixt brutality of hardcore and softness of melodic death metal, these Polish guys are open-minded to explore all the opportunities that provide these branches of alternative music.

This album is quite primitive, but not in an unkempt and unprofessional way, it rather means that there’s no place for unnecessary technicality and deliberate complexification, and without caring much about such terms as “progressive” or “experimental”. This music flows monotonously, but with blasting fury, trotting leisurely towards alternative rock or valiantly galloping to a solid state of classic groove metal. Of course, it’s not so easy to avoid comparison with mighty Pantera, one of the most prominent influencers and popularizers of groove metal. It is especially audible during the composition “Show of Death” that also contradicts itself when positive vibes are somehow interrupted by chaotic disturbance. The sound isn’t perfect – the vocal lines are a little bit muted, but it is partly compensated by clear singing of their guitar player/singer Krystian.

Steamachine is a productive band; they’ve been intimidating the local scene for three years, and are explicitly seriously-minded about conquering the big world (hence English lyrics). It seems like Steamachine is the first serious band for every musician of this trio, so no doubt that they are quite passionate and enthusiastic about everything concerning it. This is a very special experience, absolutely indescribable in terms of feelings, and all this energetic zealousness is contagious, City of Death is impressively vigorous record. But musically there’s nothing tumultuous or overpowering, just convincing groove metal, just dynamic thrash metal.

The guitar riffs are classically crafted – very low, primitive and catchy, building a solid foundation to every song. Digging deeper into the funfair atmosphere, there are some cinematic and horror-inspired soundscapes (“Monsterland” and “Sinister Reflection”). “Journey of Madness” echoes its title, emanating sorrow and pain, but not in a tearful manner, it eventually belongs to alt. rock. “Toys Factory” is more about mdm with atmospheric moments and a notable emphasis on melodic details. City of Death sometimes is perilously close to mainstream realm, with all those melodic metalcore tricks and squeaky-clean choruses, nevertheless the groove and hardcore core beats all those melodic niceties. Yeah, City of Death is unquestionably a heavy record and also emotionally diverse.

When you are looking at an artwork, you start to realize, the older you get, the creepier it gets – all those grotesque clowns or merry-go rounds, blindly circling in an endless loop. All this enforced fun and exaggerated brightness seems like a perfect soundtrack to a newly-fledged nightmare. Steamachine is a young band, but they flawlessly captured the dramatic inconsistency of the flip side of an entertainment industry, safely staying behind the impregnable walls of groove metal.

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About the author

I am into metal music from the school times, started from traditional genres, and now exploring the experimental scene. I'm also interested in modern architecture and contemporary art.

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