Ranking albums for any band is a difficult task for anyone, especially if they’ve been around for a long time. When one of my best friends Victor Vellon asked me to do it for Machinae Supremacy, I knew it was going to be tough, but with taking the time to go back and listen to all of their albums, we were able to do it. This also will be a joint effort with the Machinae Tribe (Machinae Supremacy fan page) Tumblr. The link for that among others will be at the bottom of this and I encourage you not only to look into this band if you haven’t already, but to also check those links out at the bottom of this page.
For those of you who have not heard of Machinae Supremacy, you’re in for a treat. If you enjoy old school video game music and metal, the combination of it will blow you away with how well they do it. I strongly recommend you give a listen along with us. Lastly, to tell the difference between the two, Victor’s will have a ‘V’ in front of his and mine will have a ‘D’. With that being said, it’s time to start ranking.
Deus Ex Machinae:
V: Deus Ex Machinae marks the entry for the band into studio album territory. It remains a fun listen to this day with its SID-Heavy presence throughout the album and gives an aggressive album feel. The unique element to Machinae Supremacy’s music overall is the superb use of SID sounds. One needs to look no further than tracks such as ‘Super Steve’ and ‘Throttle and Mask’ for great examples of this. The album consistently rocks throughout, even if it lacks the complexity or vocal progress seen in future releases.
The album starts off strong with Insidious, a SID-Heavy in your face track of sorts. The album also dives into melodic territory with a duet in ‘Flagcarrier’, which also features acoustic guitar work.
The bass tends to stand out most in this album than the rest and is a high point for this particular record, which can be seen in select tracks such as ‘Deus Ex Machinae’ and ‘Dreadnaught’. Between the SID elements and heavy guitar presence throughout, you get the overall feeling of the album pretty quickly into it. Some tracks dive into atmospheric territory offering a bit more to the listener, while ‘Ninja’ in particular quite literally talks about the art of being one and “killing you in your sleep”. Album closer ‘Machinae Prime’ offers an instrumental which feels more atmospheric than the tracks before it and offers more of the same to make for a fantastic track worth hearing if you listen to nothing else on the album.
Personal Favorite Track: Player One
D: Deus Ex Machinae starts off strong and has hard hitting tracks throughout the album. ‘Return to Snake Mountain’ has a very classical sounding feel while blending it with the hard-driving sound. ‘Player One’ is just epic throughout truly sounding like it could be in a video game (obviously with the title) while ‘Attack Music’ is a song that really gets you on your feet from the get-go and keeps you moving throughout. ‘Throttle and Mask’ however, is the stand out for me on this album. Everything you need to know about this band can be heard within this one song. The amazing intro that can be heard consistently throughout the song and it one of the best uses of the aforementioned SID in this album. If this band were a game, I believe this would be their theme.
Personal Favorite Track: Throttle and Mask
V: Redeemer takes all that was good about Deus Ex Machinae and turns it up to eleven. This album rarely slows down in pacing, much like the previous album, and loses a bit of the “SID feel” in favor of more focus on the entire band. This results in hearing more backing vocals which are very welcome, along with solos all throughout the album. The SID still exists however and doesn’t disappoint.
This album has lots of instrumental parts of the Jets‘N’Guns soundtrack on this album, except with lyrics added; making for quite the treat for anyone that played the PC game before hearing this album. There are two versions of this album, Underground and Retail. Underground is the way to go as it has all the tracks meant to be heard on the album. The noteworthy song of the Retail Edition is ‘Ghost (Beneath the Surface)’ and is the only drawback to the Underground Edition since it does not have that track. The album, however, is not without its epic sounding tracks. ‘Seventeen’ keeps the SID heavy and present throughout. ‘Empire’ and the intro track before it sets up the atmosphere for an epic track that is heavy as hell and an excellent closer for the album. ‘Oki Kuma’s Adventure’ takes a page from the duet presented in the first album, showcasing vocals that harmonize well together in duet format much like ‘Flagcarrier’ before it. The song ‘Fury’ is also worth noting as it hits the Underground Edition of the album and was previously a free download track from the band’s webography tracks. There is even great use of piano in what would turn out to be the band’s first music video in fan-favorite and constant live set closer ‘Through the Looking Glass’. One would have a hard task trying to find a slow spot on this album. It simply doesn’t let you down at any point and is a fan favorite with very good reason.
Personal Favorite Track: Seventeen
D: ‘Elite’ really kicks your ass and gets your heart pumping to start off. It makes me want to start moshing and that’s not a bad thing. ‘Rise’ continues to build on that momentum while bringing in more melodic moments. ‘Kaori Stomp’ even though it’s not in English, the sound still continues its theme of being super heavy and having a fantastic solo towards the end of the song. ‘I Know the Reaper’ is my stand out song for this album. It has a very epic feel to it with its phenomenal guitar riffs that get me every time. ‘Seventeen’ is another great song that just misses as it being my standout. It’s got a bouncy feel while still remaining heavy with that awesome breakdown towards the end of the song. ‘Rogue World Asylum’ has a very memorable beginning along with a very catchy chorus that I always find myself singing. Lastly, there is the epic track that is ‘Empire’. This is a hell of a song to finish the album with giving it the right amount of epic sound and feel while finishing off just as strong as it started. There is also ‘Ghost (Beneath the Surface)’ to consider as well. If you enjoy guitar solos like me, this is your go to for that. It has one great solo after another that leaves you with your jaw dropped.
Personal Favorite Track: I Know the Reaper
V: Overworld is one their best-produced albums (if not their best, period) and also happens to be a very singable one. All the tracks on this album sound great vocal wise and make for a very catchy listen. It is also a more balanced album overall, showing off various elements of what the band is capable of. Whether it is SID heavy songs such as ‘Need For Steve’, melodic tracks such as ‘Skin’, or even a pop cover such as Gimme More (SID), it is all here.
Machinae Supremacy also keeps the tradition of making great album closers and openers. This is shown in the form a fun headbanger such as ‘Overworld’, and one of the album’s best closers in the uplifting track known as ‘Stand’. A track in which feels atmospheric and while being a slower track on the album, it is a powerful one. “We stand by our ways, it is not just a game that we play”, you know what you’re in for right from the start. Standing up to whoever or whenever, and also standing up for what you believe in. Deep and thoughtful lyrics along with the instrumentals that show a willingness to experiment, makes for an album that stands on its own, versus the previous two. Regardless of subject matter, this album gives off a punk vibe in the sense that the band doesn’t hesitate to try new things, such as questioning habits and political beliefs. Hearing this in combination with one of their best sounding albums makes for an album that could be a good example of what to show a new fan to express what the band is all about.
Personal Favorite Track: Stand
D: First, we have the title track of the album (‘Overworld’) that has a great SID intro that goes right into some heavy guitar parts then follows with a very catchy chorus. All of that serves as a theme for throughout the album. You’re able to head bang while singing along easily. ‘Need for Steve’ is another one with a really cool intro as it blends SID with an awesome guitar solo. Speaking of guitar solos, this song has my favorite guitar solo on this album towards the end of the track. Next is ‘Edge and Pearl’, a song that has, in my opinion, the catchiest chorus on the album. I always enjoy singing along to it. ‘Radio Future’ continues the same pattern along with have a cool intro as well. Moving into ‘Skin’, it’s one of the more melodic songs on this album, yet is also one of the standout songs, while also seamlessly flowing from melodic into very heavy-driving sounding guitars. ‘Truth of Tomorrow’ has another one of my favorite choruses to sing. It was very easy for me to memorize and that’s not because it’s redundant but because I enjoy singing it so much. ‘Dark City’, another standout song for me, has my favorite intro to any song on the album. The sound of that guitar is such a beautiful melody and is a theme that carries throughout the entire song. It also has great melodies and more beautiful sounding guitar parts. All in mind, this is my favorite song on the album. ‘Conveyer’ starts out fast making you want to mosh around the room while again being brought back down to earth with more incredible melodies. Next is the Britney Spears cover ‘Gimme More’. Usually, when a band covers a song like this, you can tell it’s a cover from the overall sound and use of their instruments. In this case, they’ve truly made this song one of their own with their brilliant use of SID. Also the guitar solos so good, you forget that it’s a cover to begin with. ‘Violator’ follows a similar pattern and is the shortest track on the album. ‘Sid Icarus’ is another great song as it uses those elements that I keep talking about throughout this review. It’s great instrumentation throughout, catchy chorus and kickback to Jets’N’Guns make for a stellar track. Lastly, we have ‘Stand’ and they couldn’t have have written a better song to close out this album. More melodic and a slower song than the last few tracks, it makes for a strong end to an already fantastic album. While continuing to use the elements that make this album so great, it’s one of the more epic sounding songs it has to offer.
Personal Favorite Track: Dark City
A View From the End of the World:
V: This album could easily be the favorite of any gamer or longtime fan alike. While Overworld is certainly a good album to introduce people to the band within its own right, this is the album to introduce the band to someone with. A View From the End of the World is a stellar album that gives you the whole package of what Machinae Supremacy is about. Want your SID? You’ve got it. Pop-like songs with heart? Check. Awesome opener and closer for the album? You’ll definitely find it here..
The title track kicks things off with a bang with catchy guitars and powerful vocals, leading into an epic song which toys with the idea of an “all hope is lost” feel which can be heard within the lyrics. Standout track ‘Rocket Dragon’ showcases one of the better examples of a higher pitched vocal range to this point within the track itself. ‘Cybergenesis’ takes a cue from Terminator with the “there is no fate but that which we make for ourselves” line and also makes for one of the heavier tracks on this album. ‘Shinigami’ combines a bit of everything in a fast paced track, referencing the Death Note anime series, right after the short instrumental ‘World of Light’ that is very much influenced by the series as well. Tracks such as ‘Action Girl’, ‘Nova Prospekt’, and ‘Crouching Camper Hidden Sniper’ appeal to the gamers out there with clear references either within the titles themselves, or the actual track lyrics. ‘Crouching Camper’ gets special notice due to the fantastic use of SID towards the middle of the track, right up there with ‘Winterstorm’ from back in the day. ‘Persona’ continues what ‘Skin’ started the last album, with a melodic track containing heartfelt lyrics. ‘Indiscriminate Murder Is Counter-Productive’ shows the band isn’t afraid to experiment and have fun. That very thought is actually a good part of why the album is as well-rounded as it is. It manages to show off different playing speeds, styles and sounds while still being a consistently pleasant listen. Album closer ‘Remnant’ (March of the Undead IV) is a slow yet dark track which very much gives you the feeling of closure once it is done.
While personal bias clearly shows with this album description, it is very much an entry point for new fans. They wouldn’t hear anything at this point and not know exactly what they are in for. Those that cling to Redeemer may have an issue with the more melodic tracks towards the end of the album, but they are good in their own right and have their own messages. Every song seems to have it’s own clear message which is part of why this would be a top contender for an album to listen to if no other.
Personal Favorite Track: Cybergenesis
D: A View from the End of the World kicks off with its title track and it’s an awesome kick off with a fun sounding guitar part that echoes throughout the song. Also, halfway through, the SID kicks in making that part sound like it was taken right out of a video game. Then we have ‘Force Feedback’ that has great hard driving guitars, are the driving force of this song. No pun intended. Whether it’s the hard driving parts or the incredible guitar solos, it takes you on an incredible ride. Moving into ‘Rocket Dragon’, it has one of my favorite guitar solos on the album. It’s not the length of it that makes it great, but how it blends in so well with the SID towards the end of the song. ‘Persona’ takes things down a notch in terms of tempo, but still stays true to the album’s flow. This is also the one song where I feel like Rob shines on this album, especially when he goes just a little higher in pitch than normal just before the chorus. With the previous song taking the tempo down, ‘Nova Prospekt’ injects one hell of a groove that will keep you moving and “feeling the bounce” if you will. From beginning to end, guitar solo included, you won’t want to stop. Now we have ‘World Of Light’, which brings things back down with a great instrumental and soulful sounding guitars but are very brief. ‘Shinigami’ kicks your ass from at the very beginning with a cool intro and more awesome use of SID. The track then brings things down periodically throughout the song. It summarizes the album perfectly at the halfway point. Next, there are songs that will always make me want to start drumming along with my hands. ‘Cybergenesis’ is perfect for that and also adding another solo that gets knocked out of the park. This is by far one of my favorites. ‘Action Girl’ has a very cool intro, very old school video game sounding, which is something I always love to hear along with the guitar solo. If you haven’t been able to tell, I love guitar solos. ‘Crouching Camper Hidden Sniper’ is the perfect song to use for playing any first person shooter. If the title was enough of a giveaway, lyrics like “I’ll teabag you for your behavior” will further prove that point. It also has a hard driving part towards the end that makes each kill that much more satisfying. ‘Indiscriminate Murder is Counter-Productive’ is another bouncy song that make it impossible to stand still while hearing. It also has another cool SID part that continues throughout the song. ‘One Day in the Universe’ brings it back down again making it one of the more softer sounding songs on the album, but continues the theme of cool sounding guitar solos. ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ continues along with the aforementioned theme. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, because the songs before these two are just so good, that these two got overlooked for me. ‘Remnant (March of the Undead IV)’ is the one track that brings it all back. It’s the song that takes you on an incredible journey from the soft-sounding beginnings, into its beautiful choruses, and complemented by its brilliantly written guitar parts. It is my favorite song on the album and caps off perfectly one of my favorite albums that they’ve done.
Personal Favorite Track: Remnant (March of the Undead IV)
Rise of a Digital Nation:
V: Rise of a Digital Nation is the shortest studio album in this list but not one to be looked over. Rise has some powerful songs throughout but unlike A View, it is a shorter album in which by the time you start to perhaps grasp the album for what it is, it’s is over. There are some interesting tracks both instrumental wise and vocal wise seen in both ‘99’ and ‘Battlecry’, which shows the bands further willingness to try something new from time to time and also succeed at doing so. ‘All of My Angels’ makes for a excellent opening track and also has a great video to go with, clearly speaking out to fans of Doctor Who with the weeping angels references. ‘Laser Speed Force’ showcases a rare case in which Jonas takes front and center vocals for parts of the song and makes for a excellent track showcasing just how well the dual vocals sound together in a single song. Title track, ‘Rise of a Digital Nation’ speaks to people all over the world with its powerful lyrics and callout to all like-minded fans who are all united regardless of distance and being willing to speak our minds, despite cultural differences. The album becomes more questionable of a listen when you start comparing the newest ‘Hero’ to the previous one, which lacks the overall raw sound of the past, but gains better overall vocals and a extended ”live section” which once heard, cannot be unheard. ‘Cyber Warfare’ will make you crave the older MaSu sound upon hearing this short instrumental track and ‘Pieces’ suffers from mediocrity when compared with pretty much any other MaSu track, in my personal opinion.
Rise of a Digital Nation brings back thoughts to when first hearing Overworld. Because the album is shorter, it takes a few listens to take in but somehow never feels complete, which is the difference between this and Overworld. If we throw in the live factor into this album, however, select tracks (mainly RoaDN/LSF) have one hell of a live presence. Also worth noting, since ‘Hero’ is technically an existing song redone, I personally consider ‘99’ to be the true closer of the album, and when looked at that way, MaSu hold their tradition of having strong openers and closers to their albums.
Personal Favorite Track: 99
D: ‘All of My Angels’ kicks off this album in a great way, with its incredibly catchy chorus. It also holds a special place in my heart because of the Doctor Who reference of the weeping angels. That, of course, is referring to one of my favorite antagonists that the Doctor’s faced. The next song ‘Laser Speed Force’ is a great hard driving song. It also features the vocals of their guitarist Jonas, who harmonizes very well with Rob. The title track of the album (‘Rise of a Digital Nation’), which has become the theme of the entire fan base, has all the elements for it to be just that. You have a catchy sounding chorus, meaningful lyrics, and great use of SID. Moving onto ‘Cyber Warfare’, the shortest track on the album, and it does not disappoint with how heavy it is. That continues into and throughout ‘Republic of Gamers’. The highlight of the song for me is the use of SID just before the guitar solo. It’s so much fun to listen to. ‘Battlecry’ deserves attention due to the dubstep-like part thrown into it. Normally, I’m not a fan of the genre at all, but it definitely works here. ‘99’ slows it down while maintaining an amazing melody. By far, it’s the best track on the album, in my opinion.
Personal Favorite Track: 99
V: Phantom Shadow is one of MaSu’s best efforts but also serves as an attempt at a concept album. MaSu nails this while offering a variety of songs that keep you interested based on story content, references to older songs, lyrics filled with emotion, and some catchy sing-along tracks. Some tracks even tend to have that older “raw sound” as heard in tracks like ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ and “The Bigger They Are the Harder They Fall’ that people crave from the band.
The issue with putting this album on top of a ranking is the entry point for a newer fan. Without grasping the context of the story, it can be hard to get into. Past the possible hurdles of a concept album, the overall package is a sweet one and that much better if you have listened to the bands work up to this point. ‘Villian of This Story’ starts the album and gives off the concept album vibe with some great SID throughout, while ‘Perfect Dark’ continued said pattern and engages you further into the story while tossing multiple characters at you at this point as well. Older fans get some treats within the album with ‘Renegades’ and ‘The Second One’, the former containing lyrics and some instrumentation from the webography track ‘Nemesis’ and the latter being a sequel of sorts to ‘Indiscriminate Murder’. ‘Europa’ makes you think back to ‘Flagcarrier’ from DxM due to the female vocals provided by Ingeborg and an overall melodic track. Rob and Ingeborg harmonize very well together in this track and at times you may even think she is lead; a testament to her wonderful performance on this track. Added to this track are the presence of violin and an acoustic guitar. The sweeping technique used throughout the track, however, can be hard to the ears if using headphones. Always wondered if this would be able to be mixed better so this wouldn’t be the case, but one of MaSu’s greatest tracks to date regardless. With the first album to feature Tomi on guitar in its entirety, he shows off some wicked guitar work in the form of solos throughout the album to be enjoyed by the listeners. Spoken word tracks placed throughout also help keep you engaged in the story and tell it from the perspective of multiple characters. This album is more of a journey as a result than your typical MaSu album. Frantic yet consistent drumming can be enjoyed in ‘Throne of Games’. ‘The Bigger They Are the Harder They Fall’ while being mostly instrumental, has some lyrics. There are very few in this particular track but sets the scene perfectly for an upcoming battle with a past character. Heartfelt lyrics in ‘Hubnester Rising’ help bring a sense of closure to both the album itself and the story it was telling throughout. Powerful lyrics are also delivered in ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ which contains one of the best uses of Rob’s vocals in the bridge section of the song along with some of the best SID usage on the album.
Phantom Shadow is one of their longer albums to date but certainly not without good reason. Due to what it tries to accomplish, it will draw you back in for multiple listens. You will find yourself picking up on more and more story details upon doing so and some of the best overall instrumentation from the band to this point.
Personal Favorite Track: The Bigger They Are the Harder They Fall
D: ‘The Villain of This Story’ has a great intro that continues to build while having a classic sounding guitar part. As the track closes, it transitions very smoothly in their signature sound. ‘Perfect Dark’ is another one of those songs that have a cool sounding SID part in the background that plays throughout that almost harmonizes with Rob’s vocals. ‘Europa’ has a very melodic and classical feel to it. It also introduces Ingeborg, who harmonizes with Rob beautifully. It almost sounds like a rock opera. Moving into ‘Throne of Games’ starts off really heavy while blending in with a very bouncy melody that makes you want to mosh with the person next to you, making it one of my favorites on the album. ‘Renegades’ has a groove to it back with awesome sounding guitar parts flow throughout the song. ‘Beyond Good and Evil” is a song straight out of a video game with it being the heaviest use of SID. Add a great guitar solo, and you have my favorite song on the album. ‘The Second One’ has another “bouncy” feel that makes it a lot if fun to listen to. This is well represented in the guitar solo as well. ‘The Bigger They Are The Harder They Fall’ has more fun SID parts that make you forget you’re listening to a band but instead listening to a soundtrack to a video game. The aforementioned details make it yet another favorite song of mine. ‘Hubnester Rising’ ends this album incredibly well giving it an epic conclusion to the story of this album with it’s seamless transitions from melodic to heavier sounding parts. As an obvious sucker for solos, this one sounds pretty epic. As the track fades out, one can’t help but think this song serves as one of MaSu’s best closers yet, putting and end to an already fantastic album.
Personal Favorite Track: Beyond Good and Evil
1. A View From the End of the World
2. Phantom Shadow
5. Deus Ex Machinae
6. Rise of a Digital Nation
In my honest opinion, Machinae Supremacy has yet to put out a bad album or even a mediocre one. For a band that has been out since the year 2000, that is an amazing task. It all came down to personal preference and I view each album on here ranging from an 8 to a 10; if we were to use number scores that are. The first two were easy picks. The rest required lots of thought as well as ditching the nostalgia glasses. Ditching the nostalgia glasses led to me placing Overworld over Redeemer (literally the last minute decision) and it wasn’t an easy one. Overworld has a better overall sound (possibly their best-produced album) and catchier songs when compared to Redeemer. Thinking about listening to both Deus Ex Machinae vs Rise of a Digital Nation as a whole, I feel DxM gets the leg up in taking you through a variety of feelings when listening and atmospheric tracks. Rise just doesn’t give me that same feeling but does have standout tracks I wouldn’t pass up if putting together a top songs list. For example, I couldn’t imagine living without the title track because of a variety of reasons mostly to do with the meaning behind the track itself. Because this is based entirely on the studio albums, and live presence isn’t considered while doing this, this is the order I ultimately decided on.
2. A View From the End of the World
3. Phantom Shadow
5. Rise of a Digital Nation
6. Deus Ex Machinae
This list was very difficult for me to make because I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Machinae Supremacy’s discography. At the end of the day, I’m going to be choosing the order based on the albums I’ve enjoyed the most. The more songs I liked on the album, the higher it’ll be on my list. My top pick is Overworld. I’ve listened to them all scattered throughout the beginnings of when I got into the band, but this was the first album I had the privilege to listen to all the way through, and there is no album that I’ve ever enjoyed more. For me, it’s just one song after another that leaves a smile on my face and has me singing along. That’s what I really love doing. Next is A View and that is a near perfect album in itself. Towards the end is where I don’t enjoy it as much. It’s not to say those songs aren’t good because they are, but there is a definite drop off. Moving on to Phantom Shadow, the story that’s being told here is brilliantly done, but that’s not what I enjoy the most about listening to albums and that’s the only reason why it is where it is. Next, I have Redeemer. Like Overworld, it has a lot of SID use, which I love more than anything because it’s what sets the band apart from others. However, I find myself not singing along as much. That’s not to say that’s a bad thing, though. The tough part was trying to pick between Rise and Deus Ex. Going back to my original basis for my list, I enjoyed Rise just a little bit more than Deus Ex. That’s not to say one album is better than the other. I’m simply going off my personal preference, which is why Rise gets the edge here.