The Pain Machinery “Surveillance Culture” – Viva Music Album Review

July 26, 2011 in Album Reviews


 “Shine” * “Critical State” * “Never” * “Hard Cash” * “Acid Breakdown” * “The Grudge” * “The End Game” * “Grinder” * “Hell” * “Armed!” * “Surrender” * “Hate Me Now” * “Playground” * “Moving Walls

Read about “Auto Surveillance” EP on here | Order the full length album “Surveillance Culture” from Complete Control Productions from here

About The Pain Machinery:

Having experimented with electronic sounds since the late 1980’s, Anders Karlsson released his first work as The Pain Machinery in 1992. The initial idea was to mix the raw energy of UK street punk and the sound exploring possibilities of electro/industrial music. Later joined by vocalist Jonas Hedberg, The Pain Machinery has continued to expand on their original formula through the years. The band, frequently described as the missing link between punk, house and EBM, has gained a lasting reputation for their intense and physical live shows around Europe. (source).

The Pain Machinery – “Surveillance Culture” – Viva Music Album Review:

Surveillance Culture” is a heavy, cursive and straightforward album, the latest release from THE PAIN MACHINERY with Complete Control Productions. With a narrative thread that speaks diligently about mind games and the illusion of freedom in civilizations kept under close scrutiny for the sake of self-taught democracy, the sound devised by THE PAIN MACHINERY on their new album is a cavalcade about broken promises, unrequited feelings, and obedience that harms the individual.

Shine” strikes as a very explosive and engaging track from its very first seconds; it has a manifesto quality and purposeful lyrics, that indict against social media, television and infomercials that wreck our brains and are quoted as sources of new awarenesses that defamiliarize us from ourselves instead of deepening our understanding and compassion for ourselves, and each other. If the title of the track was not alarming enough, “Critical State”, then you should press play; a tag rage with the message of the previous track is about to ensue, followed by the more flexible “Never”, a song about appropriated memory of the no-man’s-land of an uncertain future. There is appealing simplicity about this track, and the potent thread of lyrical content provided by the notion of recent memory, so much at stake in debates about our current patterns of remembering or desisting memory.

Hard Cash” is redolent, in a very admiring way, of the sound of gems such as Marilyn Manson of the “Anti-Christ Superstar” era, a feeling that is boosted by the advice to “put your money where your mouth is”, as well as the eerier atmosphere than in previous tracks produced for this album, concocting a very clear message: dreams and ambitions are insufficient for catering a meaning of a better life. “Acid Breakdown” is exactly like you imagine alarm sounds before a nuclear disaster. The feeling of being trapped in a system that is rarely permissive of territories and psychologies that are not carefully mapped and surveyed beforehand, that is, of a surveillance culture, like the one captioned on in the album’s title.

The album’s stance is continued by “The Grudge” – a softer, yet more precise production, yet with a message carried out just as clearly. It is more danceable and memorable, but speaks nevertheless with the same eloquence about the culture of dissent that engenders further debacle. “The End Game” is up next, a song that pursues a sinewy and mighty musical line, is shorter and more concise in its diatribe against mediocrity and immorality, just in time for the very solid track “Grinder”. And when you thought this could well sum up the album’s lore and message, after “Grinder” you’re up against “Hell”! An inspired melody that talks about the amnesia one needs to undertake in order to be able to escape the real, living hell before confronting any free-thinking theology of heaven and hell.

Armed” and “Surrender” form in retrospective quite a lyrical couplet; with rhythmically profuse war songs; but the real battle is the one that engages imagination and strength of character. A winning rhythm, still of the battle song genre animates “Surrender” as well, despite the overall defeatism of not being able to make a difference.

Hate Me Now” is a statement, and a teasing one – it makes the previous tracks sound as a narrative sequence out of which lessons are to be learned, and in a reverse version of “don’t kill the messenger”, the carrier of ill-fated news encourages the listener to feel up to the expectations, and hate the narrator, even if this song sums up in a way a very stylistically rich apology. “Playground” is an arch-song of ultimate revolt, the one that best boils down to one of the track’s lyrics: “Toil, sweat, work your ass off for approval- failure to comply will result in quick removal”; and is followed by the majestic ending provided by “Moving Walls”; it really feels like a deep, demolishing blow into structural architecture, with a very definite beat and matching poetry.

With clean vocals and melodies, yet at the same time blunt and uncut, “Surveillance Culture” should make it into one’s playlist at least once. Heavy with manifesto-rich content, and narrative in form, the album provides an overall pleasant and cathartic experience.

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