Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Alchemical Mixture - Annimal Machine, Black Overdrive & Hellryde Inc. (album reviews)

It can be hard to get into a Mexican state of mind when living in or around Vancouver.  Daydreams of hot climes and great food are tempered by 200+ days of rain and fast food chains on every street corner.  But today we're going to try to get there, but not by sheer mental will of effort.  Today we're going to focus on los tres grandes EPs of recent vintage from Mexico by the likes of Annimal Machine, Black Overdrive and Hellryde Inc.  Yeah, that's the ticket.  One listen to any one of these three EPs and I'm sweating my ass off.

The three bands featured here all have different approaches and all sound quite different but they all have one thing in common: they are all "heavy as fuck".

Annimal Machine - ST EP
Highlights include: "Rage" and "Condenado".  From:
Ciudad Guzmán, Jalisco.  Rating: 3.5/5
Annimal Machine is one of the more aggressive stoner bands I've heard, relentlessly attacking their instruments, especially visceral is the heavy hitting of drummer Fat Bastard (who makes the all-name team).  See opening track "Condenado" for evidence of this.  The excitement of the performances really comes across and the band gets into some high powered synergy which is infectious.

While the energy output and aggression levels are high, the band still manages a loose, jamming feel to the three tracks on their EP.  Much like Spelljammer's Vol. II, each of these three songs breaks the 8-minute mark and there's an exploratory feeling.  "A Fistful of Dollars" is a look at the band's slightly more subdued side.  It's slow, especially when compared to "Condenado", but it's not lacking for energy or drive.  It starts off with a good two minute jam before settling into a fairly straight forward structure and a very solid groove.  The final two minutes of the song pick up the energy and excitement level and lead quite well into the true standout track, "Rage".

"Rage" is the final synthesis of what was great about the first two tracks: the heavy hitting instrumental pounding attack and the slower, groovier feel creates a headbanging, blood pumping highlight that simply must be felt and not just heard.  Already my body temperature has gone up two degrees.

The entire affair is laced with a punky 'don't give a shit' attitude and I suspect that the three dudes in the band intuitively 'feel' what they create without overanalyzing it.  Very much a west coast attitude.

Black Overdrive - ST Demo
Highlights include: "War Weather Worshipper" and 
"Soulless".  From: Mexico City.  Rating: 4/5
But due east a-ways, we find Mexico City's Black Overdrive, authors of one of the more promising and exciting recent demos from the underground.  They have a simple message:
Fuck ballads!! Crank it LOUD!!
I, for one, concur, as the sweat collects, beads and falls down my forehead.

Black Overdrive's six song self-titled demo EP is a hard driving and fuzzy kick in the teeth.

Black Overdrive is not the kind of band that paints beautiful pictures with highly complex song structures or atmosphere, their sound is quick and dirty graffiti scrawled on a crumbling wall.  Ripping guitars with the occasional flight of pyrotechnic frenzy and blazing drums create a backdrop for yelled vocals that get their point across needless of melody.

'Black Overdrive' is nothing if not consistent in feel and sound.  And that feel has to do with having one's head in a vice and the sound has to do with the grinding of one's teeth.  It's an intense affair, with no let-up.  Crushing guitars and pedal to the metal drums with the punk ethos prevalent on Annimal Machine's EP flip the bird to big studio magic, hair and makeup bands that are all about quantity over quality.  This is really what ties all the underground bands together throughout the world.  But the question of whether integrity begets quality becomes a chicken and egg thing.

Black Overdrive play what they want and say what  they want, fortunately, what they want is for the best.  "War Weather Worshipper" has already been a hit on the Doom Charts and there's no drop off in quality from there.  Each of the six tracks on their demo EP is killer with a consistent mood (with perhaps the understandable exception of their version of Fu Manchu's "Squash That Fly", although it leads perfectly into "War Weather Worshipper") and casually terrific performances.  There's nothing casual about me at this point, though.  I've got sweat stains on my back and armpits and am hunched over, panting.  But I move forward, ever forward to travel north ...

Hellryde Inc. - Hellryde Incorporated
Highlights include: "Piss Me Off" and "Insomnia".  From:
Monterrey, Nuevo León.  Rating: 4.5/5
Way up north from Mexico City, very nearly at the Texan border we arrive in Monterrey, one of the most highly 'developed' cities in Mexico to listen to the debut EP from one of the country's most highly developed underground bands, Hellryde Inc.

Zakk Wylde-ian guitar squeals and a clean production sound across the board give this EP a kind of sheen that is in stark contrast to Black Overdrive's offering but is no less raw for it.  The power felt on Annimal Machine and Black Overdrive is still dominant here thanks largely to the aggressive performances of Jesús Osuna [Guitar], Guillermo Uribe [Bass] and Javier Arévalo [Drums] and the confident belting of vocalist Edson Lee.

Hellryde Inc. blast through their five songs in just a smidgeon over twenty minutes and it flies by in a  flash.  So many styles and sounds are referenced here that it gives the listener no time to really get settled into the record and become a complacent listener.  Groove metal, southern metal, stoner, doom and heaps of other statements flit by and  in the blink of an eye are splattered across the windshield and quickly forgotten.  It's always time to move on, always time to move forward on this record.  Graveyard visitation feelings abound on "Love is in the Grave".  A nice wavy tall grass sound in the intro and an "I need to go for a drink" vibe in the breakdowns found within the verses bring these feelings to fruition, but the song's brevity gives it an incomplete feel.  Although as I said, they sure do keep things moving at a fast pace in every single way.  Got to keep moving forward, no looking back on the Hellryde lest ye be turned to a pillar of salt, which would no doubt quickly be forgotten and abandoned.

Despite all that, the band manage to invoke a trademark sound and an identity all its own.  Melting tires sliding on hot pavement at night.

So there it is and there they you have it, three EPs, 14 songs and 71 minutes from a trio bands from Mexico that have nothing to do with each other except that they are all hard and heavy and the listening of which will result in a delirium inducing fever.  I see a vision of wavy lines taking shape.  I need to go outside, get some air.  I open the door and ... ah, rain again.  It was all a mirage.

Genre: Stoner, Metal

Release Date: September 1, 2012 (Annimal Machine); November 1, 2012 (Black Overdrive); December 13, 2012 (Hellryde Inc.)

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Take a cold shower or move to Vancouver where cold showers are the norm 250 days of the year.

Better Reviews:
Ride With The Devil Annimal Machine review
Stoner Hive Annimal Machine review
Global Domination Black Overdrive review
Ear Munchies Hellryde Inc review


  1. Thanks for such a great review on behalf of Black Overdrive

    1. It's my pleasure! Black Overdrive is an excellent band!

  2. Free song download @


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