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This album is quite difficult to defend, even being the die-hard Dio fan I am. There are many problems with this album -- it lacks a great deal of direction; its progressive nature breaks away from Dio's traditional themes; and it generally contains many "unfavorable" elements when it comes to metal (seeming to be influenced some by the Groove Movement). Anyway, I shall defend it as best I can...
In the album, there's no really poor performance on the part of the performers -- Tracy G, Jeff Pilson, Vinny Appice, and Dio himself all perform well, and it's not as though they're lacking in experience playing together; Strange Highways is, in my opinion, a challenger to the classic Campbell era albums. The problem is that many of the songs lack the strength and conviction of previous efforts. For instance, compare a song like Institutional Man to the semi-similar Hollywood Black -- Institutional Man is not only quite a lot more chaotic, but it also lacks the intensity and power of its counterpart. The thundering bass line is there, the chugging riff carries on, the drumming is on tempo as always, and the vocal performance is fairly similar, but when it comes together, Angry Machines just sounds feeble in comparison.
There are many saving graces and exceptions to this rule, though. Hunter Of The Heart and Double Monday are both powerful enough tracks to make their way onto Inferno in the following years, and Dying In America gives a well-made contemporary track for Dio. Also, the diamond in the rough for this album, This Is Your Life, is one of the classic ballads Dio managed to throw into the workings of every album. Plus, for those who bought the Japanese release, the track God Hates Heavy Metal has a very unique and enjoyable sound, despite its low production quality.
Overall, the problem with Angry Machines is that there's too much fluff with all of the progressivism and "groove", which detracts from the quality of the songs that turned out well on the album. If it didn't have those qualities, I'd imagine it'd be about as successful as Killing The Dragon, which isn't saying too much, but it just goes to show the expectations of Dio's fanbase at the time.
Strip off the progressivism, and Angry Machines is a fairly good album. I'd recommend it to anyone willing to take some time to learn to look beyond its flaws and love it for what it is.