This week’s entry of The Weekend Album covers “On This Perfect Day“, from Guilt Machine.
Guilt Machine’s debut album “On This Perfect Day” feels almost like a hazy dream, one in which everything is far too trippy to be real, yet somehow still is. With clear influences from a variety of genres (psychedelic, rock, chill, industrial, goth, power metal, and even some drone), Guilt Machine provides a clean and varied sound that seems to grab hold of your synapses and doesn’t let go. There’s a lot of Porcupine Tree influence heard here, although that isn’t surprising considering the drummer (Chris Maitland) played in Porcupine Tree until 2002.
I once heard (non-Guilt Machine) guitarist Dominic Frasca called “Eddie Van Halen for eggheads”. Along that same line of thinking, I’d call Guilt Machine “Industrial Psychedelia for eggheads”. Every track on this album is long, unique, and an experience completely unto itself…yet somehow fits into an overall “sound” arc that flows throughout the record. Due to the length and the amount of music packed into each track, it takes some patience to fully appreciate the talent at work here, but if you put forth the effort, you will be handsomely rewarded.
“Twisted Coil” is the first track on this album, and clocks in at a total of 11 minutes and 43 seconds. With beautifully harmonized vocals supported by a droning synth whose filter shifts quickly back and forth throughout the song, all wrapped up in an industrial/psychedelic hybrid guitar track, Twisted Coil is quite an achievement in both songwriting and production. Levels between the various instruments are absolutely perfect, and the slowly shifting dynamics provide it with a dream-like feel more prevalent than I’ve ever heard. The song style shifts seemingly mid-chorus, with some lines belted out in a power-metalish kind of way, while other lines of the same chorus will be given more of an industrial feel, while still others are given the psychedelia treatment. Due to different sections of the track being heavily influenced by one genre or another, it’s nigh impossible to shoehorn this track into a single type of music (which also applies to the album as a whole.) There’s something mechanical yet organic about the layout…I can’t quite decipher why, but you’ll want to listen to this track over and over; I will often leave it on repeat for hours at a time.
Clocking in at 10 minutes 32 seconds, “Green and Cream” has a foundation consisting of rapidly hit symbols, backed up by a constantly-modulated synth and an organ. Both intonation of the vocals and the lyrics in this track are psychedelic in nature, sometimes evoking sounds reminiscent of The Isness (another amazing psychedelia-influenced album we’ve covered.) There is a sense of a magical tale woven throughout this song, like something out of a movie with a poster made by Frank Frazetta. Like any other psychedelia-influenced track, this one will mean different things to different people, but that’s what I “see” when I listen to it.
Lasting 10 minutes and 22 seconds, “Season of Denial” begins with some simple drone and industrial-influenced effects, complete with stuttered vocals. It then breaks into a clean acoustic guitar riff that gets repeated throughout the track (although its volume fluctuates), with short bursts from a quiet flute. The vocals are soft, and presented in a higher octave than most of the other tracks. This one almost has a folk sound to it, reminiscent of the theme song in The Last Unicorn. A third of the way through, a traditionally EQ’d rock electric guitar makes itself known, cut off by a rapid series of cymbal taps, and then reintroduced in the form of a violin. The track then takes a turn into power metal, both in vocal style and instrument style.
I don’t generally go for bands with Guilt Machine’s vocal stylings (minus the industrial bits), but there is more variety and talent here than I could possibly ignore. I’d place them in the same catagory as Tool: you know they’re playing common instruments, and you also know they’re people just like you and me…yet they somehow can’t possibly be human.
Their music transcends genres, which can make it hard to pin down their sound; parts of a song may fit your mood, while other parts of the same song may clash with it. Still, their music is a cerebral experience that deserves your attention, regardless of your musical interests. Be patient, relax, and prepare for one of the most unique bands around. Highly recommended.