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Hark - Machinations Award winner

Hark
Machinations
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 09 July 2017, 3:04 PM

HARK formed in 2012 in Wales, UK. The band’s 2104 debut full-length “Crystalline” was hailed by many as a standout album in the Stoner/Sludge Hard Rock genre. Three years later, the band returns with the follow up “Machinations,” which contains nine new tracks. How well did they follow up to the adorations of their debut? Let’s get to the highlight of some of the tracks to find out. The heavy, sludgy riff in “Fortune Favours the Inside” thuds on the earth like meteor strikes from the skies. The ground shakes, windows break, and you are left with mud beneath your feet to slowly drown in. “Disintegrate” is a little swifter in pace, and the dirty, rage-filled vocals fuel an impactful sound that chokes you with thick smoke that lingers on your palate. The instrumental interlude that follows the guitar solo really nails that bulky, bluesy and depressing sound. A stoner album would be remiss without some wah-wah and chorus effects in the guitars, and “Nine Fates” is no exception. The opening sequence is akin to what you might experience after a chemical high…a spacy, out of body experience that is somehow familiar.

“Transmutation” is a lumbering track with some instrumental bombast and a shifting key. The contrast between passages is marked, like when something breaks on odd angles and can’t be re-assembled…a fraction within the dissented. There are surely some forward-thinking sounds here in this construction. Pythagoras was a Greek Philosopher and Mathematician. Many people credit him with being the first big important figure in the field of the later. The parallel to the song title, “Son of Pythagoras,” is interesting because the meter is unusually complex for the style. I like a rhythm that makes you think, as well as putting its meat hooks into you for the ride. This song does both very well. “Comnixant 30” (the words) has on obvious meaning in the English language, and the instrumental song is reflective of that in a way. Not that it has no meaning, but rather the meaning is shrouded in mystery and intrigue, from a trippy sequence of guitars in particular. This short but intense journey is quite vivid.

“The Purge” is the closing elephant, at nearly nine minutes in length. When you think of a purge, you think of a lengthy and sometimes painful process of a cleansing; something that doesn’t happen overnight or without your vested time and attention. After the purge of course, your new self emerges. Isaac’s vocals echo this pain for sure. Like watching a tusked beast emerging from an icy landscape, you have to decide if your demise will come from freezing to death or at the tip of his sharp horns, promising a quick but horrifying end. The riffs are super chunky and you can almost taste them. The extended guitar solo puts the final nail in the proverbial coffin.

Overall, there is a lot to like on HARK’s “Machination.” A machination is a plot; a scheme with usually evil intentions. Hard-driving and bone-crushing, the heavy and murky songs on the album certainly reflect this theme. I found the complexities within the framework of deep and doomy Sludge Metal to be fascinating. It is reflective of a sophisticated approach to songwriting, but not overly technical in the sense that you can’t grasp their music. Warning—do not play this around fragile objects!

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Fortune Favours the Insane
2. Disintegrate
3. Nine Fates
4. Speak in Tongues
5. Transmutation
6. Son of Pythagoras
7. Premonitions
8. Cominxant 30
9. The Purge
Lineup:
Jimbob Isaac - Vocals/Guitar
Simon Bonwick - Drums
Joe Harvatt - Guitar
Tom Shortt – Bass
Record Label: Season of Mist Records
     


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