For Fans Of
In the post-SikTh environment of British technical metal, few bands have entered with a debut that is at once both unique in its approach to music, and cohesive enough to have a lasting impact on the scene.
Enter The HAARP Machine. Essentially the project of guitarist Al Mu’min, this is a band that meshes uncompromising technicality with a strong lyrical theme of impending environmental and social doom.
Combining the angular and unique guitar approach popularised by SikTh, and the all out brutality of ‘Alaska‘-era Between the Buried and Me, ‘Disclosure‘, the band’s first release, is unfeasibly cohesive and complete for a debut.
The Middle Eastern inspired intro to ‘Esoteric Agenda‘ is not a one-off; this is a sound that features on every track. The distinctive sitar tone either provides a dynamic segue between sections, or acts as an ambient layer within the songs. When you realise this is an integral part of the sound, it becomes clear that this is very much Al Mu’min‘s baby. He even throws in some Japanese koto and more traditional piano for added tonal variety.
To reinforce the fact that he’s in charge, the guitar production receives extra attention. The super tight, technical riffs of ‘From Vanity to Utility‘ and ‘Pleiadian Keys‘ punch through the mix with intricate layering and virtuosic execution. This is not to say that the other instruments are any less important, however. Michael Semesky‘s vocals, in particular, are incredibly strong, sounding like a Periphery/BTBAM hybrid.
The songwriting is equally impressive, with each piece contrasting blast beats and abrasive riffs with hyper melodic choruses, and occasional outros of serene, breathtaking beauty, as in ‘Lower the Populace‘. The frantic guitar in ‘The Escapist Notion‘ takes the instrument to new extremes of technicality, as was the case when SikTh burst onto the scene way back in 2003.
A couple of listens to ‘Disclosure‘ will have you convinced that The HAARP Machine are a band not to be trifled with. The brooding lyrics portray a world on the brink of collapse, but this is a strong start for a band who possess the skill to rival even the most celebrated technical metal innovators.
As much as this album exists to deliver a potent message of futurism, its thoughtfulness is matched by intricately refined instrumental skill and composition, which, for a debut release, makes it all the more impressive.
1. Esoteric Agenda
2. Lower the Populace
3. Pleiadian Keys
4. From Vanity to Utility
6. The Escapist Notion
7. Extension to One
8. Machine Over