Machine Men - Scars & wounds 4/5

Reviewed: 12-17-04


1. Against the freaks
2. The gift
3. The beginning of the end
4. Silver dreams
5. Man in chains
6. Betrayed by angels
7. Victim
8. Scars & wounds

Now here's something different. As we all know, young metal bands are overrunning Scandinavia these days, most of them heavily influenced by Iron Maiden, Helloween, Gamma Ray, Stratovarius and bands of that ilk. Well, Machine Men are a fresh-faced Finnish quintet whose sole mission in life is evidently to honor the musical legacy of Bruce Dickinson's criminally-overlooked 'Accident of birth' and 'Chemical wedding' masterpieces. From vocalist Antony's uncannily spot-on Dickinsonisms (he also sounds like a dead ringer for ex-Steel Prophet throatman Rick Mythiasin in the latter's lower register) to the downtuned guitars, to the bright, vaguely Maidenesque melodies, to the rhythmic sensibilities and songwriting dynamics, this is pure 'Accident'/'Chemical' worship from beginning to end. (If you're wondering where the band derived its name, check your copy of 'Chemical wedding'. "Machine Men" is the title of track 9.) And the results are stupendous. While Machine Men certainly haven't eclipsed the works which they've so assiduously studied as sonic blueprints, they have created a CD that Mr. Dickinson himself would undoubtedly have been proud to release as a postscript to the aforementioned classics.

Unfortunately, Machine Men have not chosen the easy route to metal stardom. Their music is absolutely not the flavor of the month in power metal circles. It's too dark, too moody, too heavy, and doesn't have near enough double bass, harmony leads, or happy bouncy choruses. Perhaps because of this reason, 'Scars & wounds' was released on a hole-in-the-wall Finnish label called Dynamic Arts, so it's been damn near impossible to locate in the U.S. since hitting the market last year. After many months of scouring the Internet, I finally scored a copy of this CD and its predecessor, an excellent self-titled EP including a smoking "Aces high" cover, last month. I fear that, without wider distribution and more positive buzz, Machine Men will be swept under the carpet. That would be an ironic twist, given that both 'Accident of birth' and 'Chemical wedding' were commercial failures, particularly when compared to the distinctly inferior (for my money) Maiden output that succeeded them. Ironies aside, I implore you not to let 'Scars & wounds' get lost in the shuffle. Demand that your favorite vendors stock this title, tell your friends about it, and buy, buy, buy!




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