One Machine – The Distortion of Lies and the Overdriven Truth (Scarlet)

Friday, 24th January 2014
Rating: 5/10

Good enough of a player to do time in both Nevermore and Testament, guitarist Steve Smyth has branched out on his own with One Machine. The primary coupe here is snagging former Mercenary singer Mikkel Sandager, he of infinite melodic capabilities, but geez Louise…can someone remix this? There’s no excuse for an album in 2014 to have such issues in the simple facets of mixing; it’s almost unfathomable that someone of Smyth’s relatively solid stature would put out something like this, but the fact of the matter is The Distortion of Lies and the Overdriven Truth is blemished beyond the point of no return.

Patterned as a sort of power/melodic metal act with the occasional extreme and thrash ripple, One Machine’s template is certainly something with getting onboard for. However, the execution is all off, Sandager clearly miscast in his role of schizophrenic sing/screamer, when in reality, the man is best suited for the layered, atmospheric throttle of mid-paced melodic death metal ala Mercenary in their prime years (2004 – 2008). Sandager just doesn’t sound like he’s comfortable, oftentimes ping-ponging across the mix (see: the title track, “Crossed Over” and the strained “Freedom and Pain”), a happening that couldn’t be more disheartening. Sandager is one of metal’s most unsung singers. You wouldn’t know it by listening to this.

Sure, Smyth lays out some pretty molten and flashy leads, lending credence to his superlative playing skills, yet the song structures and overall flow of the album never quite get going. But it all comes back to the mix, one that was supposedly done by Roy Z, a man who galvanized the respective careers of Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford, yet might have been out for lunch during these particular sessions. Just disappointing stuff all around. Here’s hoping Smyth and One Machine can recover, or this is going to be a one-and-done project in no time.

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