Released: 2006, Mediaskare Entertainment
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Somehow, Ventura, California’s Contra landed former Machine Head/Soulfly guitarist Logan Mader to produce, mix and master their debut EP, THIS MACHINE KILLS. Not that Mader is on the cusp of metal these days but still…not a bad notch in a young band’s belt. Contra espouses the standard metalcore fare of the day but adds spoken word/movie samples as well as some of the electronic flourishes and bass-bomb bells and whistles of Chimaira and Mader’s ex-Machine Head brothers to shake things up. Jake McCarty’s vocals are standard fare for the genre, wavering behind a low, raspy growl to a hardcore bellow. Mader’s production brings out the crunchy guitar riffs of Kevin Brooks and Bret DeBone and the rhythm section of Luke Matsuk and John Cruz is thick and pummeling, driving the short songs along nicely. Overall, THIS MACHINE KILLS is a solid, to-the-point metalcore album with enough brutality, diversity and intensity to make it stand above the crowd.
The title track explodes with a monster riff and plenty of aggression before an unrelenting breakdown fuelled by rhythmic double kick work by John Cruz and a paint-peeling roar by Jake McCarty finishes everything off. Cruz lets loose with some thunderous double bass on the speedy, more –core than metal “Learning To Count” and Contra shows their Chimaira stripes on “Heart,” as the electronic elements mix up the metalcore sludge. The clean guitar that opens the breakdown is dark and moody, which carries over to the instrumental “Prodigious Sonance,” and ambient track with sampled rums and a haunting piano. “Nothing To Me” and “Presence” owe much to the sound of Hatebreed and Throwdown as their metallic hardcore drips with attitude and aggression behind sharp riffs and memorably rhythmic sequences.
Contra isn’t doing anything new or innovative on THIS MACHINE KILLS but what they do offer is metalcore played well and with a few twists and turns, all of which are necessary elements in today’s clogged market. Killer production from Logan Mader immediately gets noticed and then adding sound bytes and electronics is like the cherry on top—enough to make this 16-minute EP a filling and tasty appetizer for their upcoming full-length.
KILLER KUTS: “This Machine Kills,” “Heart,” “Presence”