Conqueror, by Mechina
Suggested by Craig Jones
You’d think I’d love Science Fiction.
For a start, I’m a nerd. Science Fiction and Nerdistry go together like Siegfried and Roy. The first design for the Star Trek uniforms came complete with pocket protectors, and Asimov’s Fourth Law of Robotics states that “a robot must be ready to cosplay as C3P0 at the drop of a mechanical hat”.
Weirdly, I’m not particularly invested in anything wholly Sci-Fi. Sure, I’ll watch Stars both Trek and Wars if they’re on, and I did enjoy the space aesthetic of the cowboy show Firefly. And I’ve read a smattering of the classic authors, but I’d never queue for hours outside Waterstones to pick up the latest Larry Niven. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m more interested in the little stories, the tales of ordinary people, the lives of binmen and beyond. It’s no coincidence that my favourite Sci-Fi characters reside aboard the mining spaceship Red Dwarf.
Mechina, the Illinois-based symphonic / industrial death metallers, are mired to their necks in the Sci-Fi aesthetic. A quick browse of the band’s various album covers is proof of that, with their neon Gigeresque patterns and Fritz Lang Metropolis iconography on one hand, and the Kubrikian sparsity and bleak beauty of deep space on the other. There’s light cresting over curved horizons, with the band and album name picked out in fluid and futuristic fonts.
Musically, Mechina provide some of the most tranquil and spacious Death Metal you’re ever likely to hear. Everything feels almost operatic is score and texture, with soaring synths and ambient refrains busy shaping the minds of a thousand eager listeners. It’s evocative of the genre, soothing despite itself and its more death metal core. Guitar-wise, there’s a developed djent palm-muted barking sound that’s augmented by some tongue-trilled bass drum filigree that’s almost too fast to comprehend. If that’s achieved by a real drummer, then all power to them.
The spacious symphony of stars and strings is intertwined with the powerful metal foundation, which simultaneously leaves you gasping at the beauty while being bludgeoned along a predetermined path. It’s transcendental, intelligent stu- OH MY GOD THE SINGER’S STARTED GROWLING! FOR F**K’S SAKE, CAN WE NOT HAVE ONE HEAVY ABLUM WITHOUT THIS ASININE FLATULENT ARROGANCE?
My goodwill for this band is, once again, kicked into a Sarlacc Pit and devoured whole by a terrible beast. What was promising to be something unique and exciting quickly descends into the sewers and starts feasting on faeces-fattened rats. Not even my standout track, the relatively Growl-free Anti-Theist that boils and builds from inauspicious beginnings, could stop this salvage vessel drifting headlong into the Moon.
I am SO BORED of growly metal. I cannot envisage an occasion where I’ll ever feel that sub-human grumble-grunting is actually enriching the other sounds around it. With a full point added for the musical promises that weren’t kept, I give Conquer 4/10. Please, load me into a packing crate and shoot me out towards the stars. In space, no one can hear you growl.