Ravage Machinery hails from the hometown of Santa Claus. However, the band observe the slavery in modern societies, so there goes my Christmas spirit! But let's go back to the beginnings of the band now: It took around 10 years for Ravage Machinery to get their debut album out. When they started in mid-2000s, their craft was more about groove metal ("metalcore meets Gothenburg", as I put it), as they had earlier covered such songs under a different name. I severely enjoyed of the band's previous release, 'The Dystopian Tide' EP from 2011.
It comes as no surprise, that 'Subordinates of the Mechanism' shows some changes in the band's style, like did every release they put out. But a slight surprise comes in form of the fact, that quite a bit of more brutal death metal elements have been incorporated. Ladies and gentlemen, here's a band who isn't getting more mellow over time... US death metal influences play a bigger part now, and one can forget about the Gothenburg ones. Especially Suffocation's and Cannibal Corpse's impact on RM guys cannot be overlooked. But RM are also influenced by, or happen to create similar sonics, as their countrymates Adramelech did. So, RM spew out slashing and hammering art of brutal death metal with occasional sick melody or harmony stuff (or disharmony; think about Cannibal Corpse), but there's more to them. Very groovy tempos are heard every now and then, but so are swirling vortexes. Think about Finns Mors Subita's more modern style, when talking about the groovier elements here (try 'Limits of Systematic Madness'); this definitely isn't metalcore. Then, there are some grindcore bits here and there to beef up things. Guitar solos are thought-out, memorable and enjoyable.
The album starts with blasting 'Emancipate/Exterminate', which already also contains the groove element. 'Evolution of Malevolence' brings a change; it hits break pedal at times, and therefore is a longer track, and begins with soundtrack-ish style. It also features catchier things. However, every songs does, but they aren't exuberantly thrown at a listener. But every single riff can be such a thing, if inspected with time, mind you. Anyway, back to this long song; it is alternating enough to stay fresh for its 7-minute duration. More slowing down happens on some of the songs, but not to the same extent; it still adds more dynamism to the songs, though. I think this is best listened via headphones, so the fastest bits can be grasped. Getting everything from this music also needs real focusing; it's often twisting, and not plain at all. That's why this isn't a very easy album to review; grasping it all isn't necessarily happening even after ten playthroughs of it all!
Former bass player Rauli Alaruikka now handles the lead vocals. His growl is low, guttural and raspy at the same time, and there's more high-pitched voice utilized, too. Sometimes there's backing vocalists adding a different voices, at times simultaneously for that "demonic" effect. Ear-ripping pig squealing (sort of abortive) does not fit with the music at all. Machine-effected bits, which are only a few, are better and suit with the lyrical theme. Which is slavery through economy or religion, often clad into science fiction style. They really aren't typical death metal lyricism. Generally, they are interesting and well written. The cover artwork by Turkka G. Rantanen is also sci-fi themed, perfectly suiting for the album.
Soundwise the album is okay. It does rip and bang, but it could do better on both fields. The guitars are rusty (fitting with the lyrical metaphors) rather than sharp, latter applying to lead guitar on solos. The bass guitar is audible, and sounds rumbling. I believe the drums aren't triggered, and therefore classily shower fire. It sounds rough more than polished, which is a good thing.
All in all, 'Subordinates of the Mechanism' is a good album. It's both, old and modern sounding piece of death metal, that's an alloy of various styles from various continents. It's not quite what I was waiting for after magnificent 'The Dystopian Tide' from 2011. Four years between the two releases, the band have mutated into something a tad different. I'm continuing to listen to this album, and waiting it to truly flourish, because I believe it is possible. But not yet, after +20 listenings...
Rating: 7+ (out of 10) ratings explained
Reviewed by Lane