Galactic Cowboys

Machine Fish

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After the critical and commercial thrashing bestowed upon their disappointing second album, Houston's Galactic Cowboys were abruptly dropped by DGC Records. They also then parted company with their management, fired their guitarist, and eventually signed with independent Metal Blade Records for 1995's Machine Fish. Though the album shows a vast improvement, it can hardly be termed a return to form, seeing as the band's sound was drastically altered. Their once characteristic Beatlesque vocal harmonies, pompous prog-metal aspirations, and textured guitar symphonies are virtually abandoned, replaced by a more conventional heavy metal approach and an aggressive (read "screaming") vocal style. Inventive songwriting facilitates this transition on standouts such as "Feel the Rage," "Stress," and the ironic "Pattin' Yourself on the Back." The group also resurrects some chorused vocals for the equally impressive "Psychotic Companion," "The Lens," and "In a Lonely Room." They save the best for last, closing with the piano-driven and wonderfully melancholy "Arrow."

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