By now if everyone reading these reviews couldn’t tell metal is one of my favorite genres, that’s not to say I don’t like others, but there have just been so many releases and upcoming releases lately with so much to listen to. Now with a lot of music to listen to, bands have to stand out, offer something to listeners that is top quality and stands out from the crowd. With that comes The HAARP Machine’s debut full length, ‘Disclosure’.
On Sumerian Records if you were to search for the HAARP Machine, the first thing you’d find in their about me is that they are “The UK’s newest progressive extreme metal juggernaut.” That’s a good amount of hype to live up to coming from their own label and The HAARP Machine easily surpasses it. I’ve been anticipating their release ever since they released the instrumental version of The Escapist Notion a year ago, possibly longer. Ever since then there has been from my memory a decent amount of delays and vocalist searches, but it’s in my opinion been very much worth the weight for their first release.
The record opens up immediately with what sounds to be a sitar, already utilizing and showcasing a diverse cultural influence in their songs. Near the end of Esoteric Agenda is a combination of guitars, bongo drums, and a “goop” sound, one that I can only describe as from my knowledge being out of a video game. Another example from the second track ‘Lower The Populace’ near the end with the use of a Shamisen (or a Koto) and flute to give off a typical ancient Japanese vibe, one that would normally be found within a movie. There is no shortage of the use of these nontypical instruments and that is possibly my favorite part about this album, the excellent use of a wide variety of cultural backgrounds to complement the main instruments. It really makes The Haarp Machine stand out compared to other bands in recent memory. The incorporation of piano, violins and the other instruments I mentioned truly adds a beautiful element to their songs that is a breath of fresh air compared to the constant use of techno/electronic/dubstep. They incorporated these elements perfectly into their music, again, complementing the primary use of guitars instead of relying on it as a lead like other bands do with the previously mentioned electronic elements.
As it is with any other big release, the quality of the album is suberb. Full sounding guitars, chugging and higher riff work is cleary and precise. No sloppiness is heard, and if there is any, it’s been fixed by the high quality production. However, I believe The Haarp Machine’s guitarist Al Mu’min is talented enough to not make simple mistakes like that. Alex Rudinger on drums provides excellent fills and a great drum track that works perfectly in their songs. Bassist Oliver Rooney does his job, adding a fuller sound to the guitar tracks, though I haven’t heard anything that sounds like a complicated bass solo or anything similar, other than working as a companion to the guitar. The the mix for bass is rather low, so it’s hard to hear it anyway, which is disappointing. A good bass track is something that I always enjoy listening to. This isn’t a huge issue since the guitar tracks are what make up the strong points of this album, especially seen with a final solo at the end of Machine Over. Their new vocalist Michael Semesky providing clean and scream vocals adds to the mezmerizing sound of this album. While not projecting incredibly powerful or high pitch vocals; he instead uses his voice to add a harmonic element to the music, working with it instead of trying to sing over it. Lyrically The Haarp Machine put their focus on a variety of things, ranging from corruption in politics and world events to conscious elevation, and spiritual awareness. Subjects fitting for their music, though the lyrics for ‘The Escapist Notion’ fall flat. Sounding like a person reading from a speech they’ve prepared, and trying to fit in a lot of words all at once instead of working to make them flow.
The only negative I could really find with this album is the length. With 8 songs at 34 minutes in length, it feels like a short album. You get drawn in and are enjoying it then suddenly it’s over before you know it. That’s not something that should greatly affect your listening experience however. Disclosure is an incredibly powerful album, filled with culturally diverse instruments, strong and rather technical guitar work, and vocals that complement them well. This album is definitely in my top ten for 2012 and full recommend everyone picking up a copy. It will be well worth your purchase.