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July 22, 2024

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Suicide Machines
Battle Hymns (Hollywood Records)

By: Alex Steininger

The Suicide Machines are a Detroit ska-punk act. Living in a big city with so much diversity, they've experienced it all. Racism, hate, greed, and the everyday evils that need to be cleaned out of our society before we go extinct. Taking life in through their eyes, they have decided to do their part and make the negatives of society aware to their listeners. On BATTLE HYMNS they cover such issues as racism, back stabbing, and what can be done to solve these problems.

"Someone" kicks off the CD. A song about love and finding someone "who feels like I do." It starts off with some punk riffs before jumping into some powerful ska rhythms. Then the guitar turns up the volume and slams through some punk, while the bass and drums hammer away to add depth and a punch to the music. They then quickly jump into more ska rhythms to give you a chance to dance, but don't dance too long, because they quickly jump back into the hard-edged punk verse. Ending this minute and a half long song with some more ska, they set the tone for a definite half hour experience which will get you dancing, blow your mind, and work your body into a frenzy. "Give" has to be one of the stand-out tracks on this album. Its single potential is overwhelming and could burn up the charts in the MTV world. A heavily ska influenced track, they rely on the upbeat and the danceable melodies to get their message across, rather than loud guitars and quickly screaming their message through the mic. The backing vocals add some nice "oh yeah's" to the mix, giving it a nice, harmonious feeling. The words are just as powerful as their other tunes, and the message is as clear as ever. And lets not forget the fact that it's the longest track on the CD, clocking in at two minuets and nineteen seconds. "High Society" starts out with a very danceable verse, kicking the dancing off from the beginning. Fast paced and highly infectious, you can't help but jump up and dance with the music. And then there is the punk chorus. Hard and angry, it blasts through you with immense energy. But adding a big, soft heart to the chorus is the backing "oh's." Calm and gentle, they help contrast the rough and tough angle of the music, giving the chorus another dimension to feed off of. "Step One" starts off with a lot of punk attitude, and then jumps into some ska-punk. Rather than using very soothing vocals, with only a hint of the punk growl, they use furious punk vocals, giving even the ska a very rough feeling to it. Gradually getting harder, they end the song with some power. "Sides" demonstrates the new sound the Suicide Machines have been leaning towards on this album. Rather than sticking with ska-punk and punk as on their previous album, they mix in a lot of hardcore, harder punk, and even more danceable ska. A perfect close to a great twenty one track disc. But wait, I forgot, it's a twenty two track disc. That's right it ends with a five second song called "Jah." Basically some thick Caribbean drums and the word "Jah." OK, an usual, but appropriate close for this disc.

The Suicide Machines haven't lost their fight in the last two years. If anything, they've only gotten stronger. Mixing in a lot more hardcore on this album, and giving the album a much harder edge, they also mix in more politically focused commentary on society, and construct it in a way that is neither preacher or forceful, but only hopeful and optimistic. Realizing that harder isn't always better, they also add some more danceable rhythms, A.K.A ska, to the mix to give the listener a taste of everything they are feeling. All and all this is a great album. I highly recommended it. I'll give it an A.

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