by Ewan Wadharmi
In the fifteen or so years that metalliska has been a legitimate genre, never has a more serious release crossed my desk (and eyes). It’s not so much the music that’s severe, the musicianship is laudable. The guitars punch like a Leatherman, and the thematic horns are pure Quinn-Martin production. The lyrics are devoid of humor, save one Brady Bunch reference that slips through. They are decent (not stellar) lyrics with a lot of conviction: “watching the little screen has shown so much of a calamity/the media is messed up today/they thrive on negativity.” But ska is supposed to be fun! Perhaps the next phase is emo-ska.
The singer gives a certain Skid Row hair metal vibe on “Handy With The Steel,” but demonstrates some nice dancehall scatting on “Hearts Bleeding” to make up for it. The ska-less “Storm Before The Calm” is actually the most polished piece, folky and of the open-diary variety. I won’t write them off, because I sense potential. Is it ironic that Suicide Machines are lighter-hearted?