Machines in Routine

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The thing about hardcore (and death metal and math rock and grindcore) is that the clichés have a lot of gravity, and they have a tendency to suck all musicians who venture near into a vortex of frantic sameness. Some bands resist the attraction of cliché better than others, of course, and some of them do so by not sticking too long with any one of those styles, breaking the pull by changing directions quickly and without warning. That's more or less Emmanuel.7's approach: the band takes its growly vocal cues from grind, its tempos from hardcore, some of its structural ideas from math rock, and others from plain old rock & roll. Their debut album was originally slated to appear on the Ides of March label, but business difficulties led to its appearance instead on the Thorp label. It shows Emmanuel.7 to be a relatively mature band for its age; song titles like "He Died at 47," "A/C Separation," and "Playing a Joke on the Jester" all indicate a rather unusual mindset for a band of this general persuasion, though the found-sound interludes (most of which sound like they're taken from 1950s corporate training films) imply a pretty facile sort of social commentary. The album's headlong roar settles down somewhat toward the end of the program, giving way to an almost meditative (comparatively speaking) mood. This is a fascinating if imperfect album from a young band that bears watching.

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