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Album Review: TBA

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Album Review: Man The Machetes – Idiokrati

Oh, I love me some punk n’ roll. It’s so gritty and groovy and grimy and great. If you’re not moshing, you’re dancing, and if you’re not dancing you’re drinking! Throw in a viciously roared vocal and I’m in seventh bloody heaven, me. There’s nothing finer than watching a decent punk band sweating themselves dry and then launching their own broken bodies at you. The whole principle of “Give everything, leave nothing” always applies and, yes, that’s infectious, but most importantly, it’s something you can’t help but admire.

Norway’s Man The Machetes, like their fellow countrymen and perennial touring buddies, Kvelertak, have all of the above in spades. Now, even the best live bands have trouble translating these live qualities onto record, it’s a widely-acknowledged problem, so quite how MTM have nailed it first time around is beyond me. There’s no getting around it – Idiokrati (a cheeky reference to the concept of a government run by idiots) is all-but-perfect. It sports a suitably post-apocalyptic black-and-yellow album cover which is certainly going to help this stand out on the shelves. Diggers flattening buildings and a little girl in a gas-mask with a flower and the obligatory machete in hand – these are images, although a little obvious, that should stay with you awhile. Let’s just say you shouldn’t miss it when browsing.

The fiery opener “Sluk Det Rått” (in English, “Eat It Raw”) drives through a pistoning opening foray, before softening into a swaggering roll. Both play along with Christopher Iversen’s wall-of-howl until the band suddenly inject a surge of bass and smother the bastard. This goes at you like an attack dog – ripping bite after bite out of you. There is just no let off from the sonic assault. Album highlight, “Slagen”, is quite possibly the finest thing I’ve heard in years. Best described as a storm of rich, dissonant melody, this takes everything that’s gone before and hones it to a point where the gang chants and short rhythmic pauses for breath create a trigger for the chorus to fire its irresistible hook into your brain – “Down with the slagen!”

The crushing groove that this band generates is like an almighty weight on your chest; its acidic edges bleed into every pore. When listening to this I actually find myself struggling to breathe. It’s a monster. There is no room to think when MTM are laying down. The gunshot snare drum; the menacing sequence of minor chord changes; the harmonics that play around a central key; the crushing riff in “Karma å Brenne” (or “Karma To Burn”) – they all roll around inside your skull, endowed with the same mass as the strongman’s Atlas Stones.

If I was pushed, I would suggest that Man The Machete’s music falls into the gap between Kvelertak and Fucked Up or, in other words, between a rock and a fucking hard place. Additionally, parts of “Maktesløse” (in English, “Powerless”) put me in mind of Skindred’s ragga venom; the vocal delivery and the patterning especially, but only a hundred times more deadly, and there is a fistful of Cancer Bats lurking down in the twisted grooves that the melodies dig out. The big difference here is that Idiokrati washes away the disparate attack and quality of all these bands and replaces their filler with absolute killer.

Some will listen to this and hear too much similarity between tracks, whilst others will sneer at its measly 30-minute running time or, idiotically, balk at the Norwegian content. These people would be missing the point. The over-riding value of this album comes from the way it instantly makes you feel. That factor transcends every other. I haven’t found a moment when I’ve not been energised by Iversen getting his beast on for “Sudan” or the guitars doling out their thick menacing riffs for the homecoming of “Hjemkomst”. Point is, if you want to get pumped and you dig the idea of some scowling, spitting carnage fed through a startlingly melodious selection of strings then you simply have no choice. Man The Machetes want to own your soul and you’d be a fool not to let them have it.

Special thanks go to Swedish Max for his help translating the titles.

Also online @ Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2013/02/man-the-machetes-idiokrati-indie-recordings/
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