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Of light in the darkness. - 55%

Diamhea, March 8th, 2018

I hate to do this, as I've been a defender of Machinae Supremacy lately, but Redeemer is kind of a mess. Maybe it was more impressive back when it was released twelve (wow!) years ago, but it just feels like a sloppy precursor to the style that properly congealed on Overworld and was experimented with later. Yes, this album is in general heavier and more riff-driven than their later work, but that certainly doesn't make it any better by default. Furthermore, the keyboards and SID are not utilized nearly as much (or as effectively) as later instalments of Machinae Supremacy's discography, so the album has quite a lot stacked against it going in.

For one, looking at the fan-favourite "Elite," this has a lot of issues at first blush, as Stjärnström's whining, nasal drawl is only tolerable when he is hitting the right notes. Here he just sort of drones over the music, which in itself is rather rote, standard speedy In Flames melodeath worship, much like Blood Stain Child - another clear influence. There are moments, like on "Rogue World Asylum" which tease at the majesty the band would capture, but very little truly sticks. The mix is rather harsh and oppressive - certainly not the wisest choice for the style, but it does give Redeemer a sense of gravitas and impact it would otherwise lack.

Funny thing is, through all of this mediocrity comes on shining jewel: "Oki Kumas Adventure." This is one of my top five Machinae Supremacy tunes, as it just totally nails that exotic atmosphere, with extensive synth usage and one of the best refrains the band has written. The tune isn't structured in a typical manner either - certainly worth tracking down even if you aren't partial to their earlier, riffier material. Elsewhere, Redeemer really struggles. It just feels rather thrown together, which shouldn't be a surprise given the number of songs present here. Lots of faceless, lightweight wannabe-roiling melodic death posturing here, and Stjärnström can be extremely irritating at times.

I would say check out everything after this one first. A pervading sense of ennui bogs the entire experience, save for a few SID-driven moments ("Reanimator (March of the Undead III)" is decent). Some fans seem to love this one, though, so I think it should still be given a chance. However, Machinae Supremacy have stumbled mightily more than once, so they aren't an infallible unit. Their experimental style comes with risks, I suppose.