WE THE MACHINE is a post-hardcore band from Boston, Massachusetts. They are a 6 piece band that explores the style of music in many unique ways. For a long period of my musical listening history, hardcore music in general, ranging from old school punk rock, to this more melodically drenched pop sensible form of punk and metal, and going even further into the depths of death and black metal, has been a staple in my listening repetoir. As I began to listen to their latest EP entitled "DISSENTER," I came at it from the perspective that I have listened to a whole lot of metal and hardcore music. So, amongst easily comparable bands like We Came as Romans (an apparent influence of WE THE MACHINE's music), where does this band hold their ground? From my multiple listens through this album, I think I can provide an adaquete answer.
Easily one of my favorite things about any music labled "post"-something (be it post-hardcore, post-rock, post-EDM, etc.) is that this simple term conveys a desire of the musicians to "go beyond" what is typically done in that respective genre. With post-hardcore, we are often treated to more complex compositions. Differing time signatures, unique timbre uses, and otherwise doing things not commonly associated with "hardcore" music. In essence, hardcore is associated with loudness and sometimes violence. While this atmosphere is conveyed at points, there are lulls in the violent and high decibal moments, like in the track "Bent In The Undergrowth," where the track takes a turn into this pleasurable borderline ambient and synthetic tone. These days in post-hardcore, these sort of segments are almost entirely necessary. They are becoming one of the defining components of the genre, and as such will soon be forcing musicians to think of ways to go beyond the conventions of the post-hardcore genre itself. However, for the moment, they still remain highly enjoyable when done well. In the track already highlighted, I feel the interlude and build up into the remaining chorus segment was done very well. Overall, throughout the EP, the compositions are very good. They maintain some pop sensibilities, yet provide enough experimental moments to be interesting. It is an instance of a band being accessible to a wide range of people, yet being interesting to people really into music theory and what have you.
As far as production goes, I have nothing to complain about regarding this album. It is produced exactly how you would expect a post-hardcore album to be produced. The sound is on par with their many influences like the aforementioned We Came as Romans and others like This or the Apocalypse, I See Stars, and Sleeping with Sirens.
WE THE MACHINE provides an array of sounds on "DISSENTER." While your basic line up of metal instruments are available, they move forward by emphasis on a variety of synthetic effects and piano. These timbres juxapose themselves against the loud and often overly compressed distortion guitar and bass tones, and provide an opportunity to quiet and emotional moments on an album that would otherwise just be "another" hardcore album. Indeed, some may argue that the use of synthesizers are simply a gimmick for artists like this, and perhaps these individuals are right in some cases; but WE THE MACHINE maintains a quality use of these instruments and sounds that it is hard to fault them. With this said, some of the guitar riffs are no doubt generic and a bit boring at points. Moments of simplistic chugging riffs to dissonant riffs like the ones found on the track "The Fallen" have been dull to me since Norma Jean really made this conflicting sound popular in their track "Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste." Overall, the instruments range from functional to very enjoyable and, at moments, unique to the style. WE THE MACHINE showcases the ability to work within the genre parameters and move forward on occasion.
The vocal stylings present on "DISSENTER" are perhaps the best part about this album. The conflicting harsh, screamed vocals are paired with a soft and melodic vocal styling that is often reverberated and auto-tuned (for the effect more so than the singers inability to sing). The track "An Effort to Breathe" really digs deep into my soul as I listen to really top tier vocal work within this genre. The lyrics seem to range from standard fare for the genre to lyrics that really push what can be expected from the genre, though at points it can be difficult to decipher what is being said through the screams and even the clean vocals. With a lyric book in hand while listening, I'm certain these tracks would not fail in the lyrical department, and will no doubt be enjoyed by many.
If you are getting the impression that I am now a fan of WE THE MACHINE's music as a result of listening to their EP "DISSENTER," you are accurate. I will not sit here and lie to you and say this is a perfect piece of music, but it does a lot of things right within the confines of the post-hardcore genre. The excellent interlude in "Bent in the Undergrowth" still captivates me, and I can even call it to memory without listening to this album for a few days. While some riffs are a bit dull and overused, each track has something notable. In the least, I could imagine "DISSENTER" sitting on my shelf next to albums by We Came as Romans, The Breathing Process, and even a more progressive deathcore band The Contortionist.
So, in conclusion, "Give Your Heart a Break," listen to their cover of that pop song, and enjoy WE THE MACHINE's latest EP. It is a solid piece of post-hardcore that tends to hit all the right notes, with an occasional sour one here and there. At the end of the day, I can't complain much. I'm too busy headbanging and wanting to mosh with my roommates.