MECHINA — Conqueror (review)

MECHINA — Conqueror album cover Album · 2011 · Symphonic Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Mechina, while not entirely blowing me away, have produced material good enough for me to keep an eye on them. Having already checked out their latest two albums, Conqueror gave me another extension of their musical evolution to explore. Indeed, it does have all the things that make Mechina what they are in Empyrean and Xenon, but it seems more simplified here while also making it more streamlined. So while it's again not perfect, there's a few things the band could learn from themselves on this album.

The theatrical heavy metal space opera that this band is known for at this point still runs strong here. The intro track "Incipient Tragoedia" has a nice melody with the female singing, and that melody is revisited in the outro to the album "Ad Astra". Once the first song with guitars, "Pray to the Winds", comes around, it doesn't waste any time getting right into riffs though. Somehow, this album doesn't feature the awkward production that Empyrean features with burying the guitar in orchestral programming despite Conqueror being released before. The orchestral programming sounds more well balanced here and the guitars stick out more as a result which is actually a mixed blessing.

Mechina's Sybreed-Meshuggah inspired guitar work on this album is effective at adding to the sci-fi sound scape that they make but do end up being kinda boring by themselves, but they're improved when they go with the right mixture of the orchestra programming. "Pray to the Winds" and "The Iron Law" are the perfect examples of this and are the two best tracks on this album with the former's heroic overtones and the latter sounding like the score for a final boss battle in a sci-fi RPG video game. The other tracks however seem to have a more unbalanced mixture and just flat out fail to provide that epic atmosphere that I'm looking for. "Anti-Theist" and "Internecion" are the worst offenders in this case while "Non Serviam" and "Conqueror" do it to an okay degree but not to an outstanding one.

The lyrics have a lot of catchy moments though and I've found myself singing along with them under my breath when I listen to this on my iPod in public, especially "The Iron Law"'s "TOTAL-SYSTEM-FAILURE!" line. David Holch's vocals are mostly on the harsh side on this album with his clean vocals being contained to "Anti-Theist" and "Non Serviam" for better or worse. He doesn't quite pull the clean vox off quite as well as he does in Empyrean.

When you get right down to it, Conqueror basically does the same thing Empyrean and Xenon do. It's still worth listening to and it does run smoothly from start to finish. It's also only 37 minutes long as opposed to 50 on the succeeding two outings, so props to Mechina for not making an overlong album. When this band does stuff right though, they successfully land among the stars so I hope they continue what they're doing.

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