Thursday, 6 June 2013

Ape Machine - Mangled By The Machine (album review)

Album artwork by David Snider.
You really can't say enough about Portland, Oregon quartet Ape Machine and what they did with this, their third full-length album (first for Ripple).

Not only does each song run into the next, creating a complete and logical listening experience, but the entire album was recorded in a single, monster take!  I'll say that again: this album was recorded in one take.

It's not like a Pink Floyd song like "Atom Heart Mother" or any number of whole LP side prog suites where it's 20 minutes of mostly improvisational music split up into lettered sections.  It's a little more like the way Captain Beyond's LP would run-on from song to song, but then again, it's not really like that at all.  Drum fills usually segue one song into the next.  There's no breather here, at no point do the band stop rocking, they just play a song (drum fill) go right into the next one ... and so on.  I'd just like to take a moment to point out right here that this is a 'busy' record, it's not a roomy or spacey affair, it straight up rocks from start to finish and as a former drummer, I'd just like to point out what an incredible feat that is to play straight through like that without your arms falling off.  The individual tracks here are whole and independent songs, they just run into one another because of the technique of their rather unique recording situation.  Either the band was broke and had to record the album this way or they are incredibly brave and adventurous or both, but either way the concept and execution are brilliant.

So that's the "gimmick", the hook to attract listeners if you will.  But as for the music itself: there's nary a weak track on this blockbuster abum.  This is badass stuff.  Hard Rock with powerhouse drumming, manically scaling riffs that snake around in the best Leaf Hound or Jerusalem tradition all spearheaded by a rhythmically progressive sensibility.  Look no further than album opener "Gun You Down" to hear what I'm yakkin' about.  BWER-du-du-dun-dun-dun-du-DUN-dun-dun-du-dun-dun-dun-dun-BWER!!  Incredible.  "Tyrant's Arm" and "Angry Man" each snake and scale with measured grace and brutality.  It can be hard to catch the song breaks at times, but usually each one is distinguished by the changing melodies during the verse and chorus.  The length and breadth of the rest of this album just drops the heavy all over you.

Photo by David K. Archer.
By the time the slow, cowboy stomper "Ruling With Intent" cycles in, you're almost glad for the breather, thankful that the beat down has ceased, if only for the moment.  And it is only a moment's respite.  Before you know it, the album is pounding, stomping, strutting and be-bopping all over your face again.  It's the type of relentless assault that offers a hand to pick you up off the ground only to punch you in the face and knock you down again.  I'm talking unreasonably hard rockin' here.  But the vibes are always good.  Don't get the wrong impression, it's a positive record, it's just, don't show up unless you want your ass rocked off.

One way or another, this is high energy rock n roll.  This is definitely an album to listen to all in one sitting, no matter what your regular listening habits are.  There's not a moment to be missed on this one.  As far as rock n roll records go, this is one the heaviest I've ever heard.

Highlights include: "Gun You Down" and "Angry Man" are great tracks but this albums should be listened to in one sitting in its entirety.  You won't regret it.

Rating: 5/5

Total Run Time: 38:33

Caleb Heinze - Vocals
Ian Watts - Guitar
Brian True - Bass
Damon De La Paz - Drums

From: Portland, Oregon

Genre: Stoner, Hard Rock, Prog,

Reminds me of: Captain Beyond, Leaf Hound, Neon Warship

Release Date: May 7, 2013

Suggested Listening Activity for Fellow Non-Stoners: Running a triathalon while carrying cinder blocks.

Better Reviews:
Sludgelord
Ech(((o)))es and Dust
Ripple Effect

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