CMJ Review of Gilt #1
On their previous releases, Machines Of Loving Grace relied heavily on electronic gear to empower its music, but on its third album Gilt, produced by Sylvia Massey (Tool, Babes In Toyland), they churn to a much different beat, having added very heavy, live guitar and rhythm sections. Although the band’s core sound screams pure, heavy rock `n’ roll to the last shuddering riff, it is also kissed with electronic grooves that bounce to and fro amidst an inner shell of aggro-industrial thwacks. Many metal-industrial outfits tend to bash and clang with such deafening frenzy that it drowns out any semblance of melody or arrangement, while most techno bands are way too dance-y and repetitive to hold the interest of metalheads for more than a millisecond; Machines Of Loving Grace provide the perfect balance of catchy, driving rhythms, hard-edged grooves, well-placed samples and loops, and intricate arrangements. Wrought with anger and aggression, Gilt’s bittersweet, rough elegance prevents the songs from becoming overbearing, while its deep-rooted grooves, seductive melodies and tribal grinds explode with live-wire intensity. Check out the wild, addictive shot of “Richest Junkie Still Alive,” the agitated chug of “Kiss Destroyer,” the dark, therapeutic swirl of “Suicide King,” the primal swagger of “Animal Mass,” the scorching thump of “Twofold Godhead” and the haunting, ambient echo of “Serpico.”
CMJ Review of Gilt #2
Like a lot of bands which sprung from the industrial (music) revolution, Machines Of Loving Grace use both electronic and traditional rock instruments to create their music. Their third record delves into their meld of man and machine yet again, with a powerful certainty lacking in previous efforts. This time out, the band seems fully confident in its sound, pitting harsh, metal guitar lines against strong, angry vocals and a tremendous beat. While other bands of this ilk can sound flashy and immature, MOLG manage to create this kind of music without coming across as postured or ridiculous. Their song titles seem like they would be goofy – “Suicide King,” “Animal Mass,” “Casual Users” and “Two Fold Godhead” – but the songs sound belies their titles. Most of them hold a serious tone which is carried by the hugely heavy guitar and drum interplay. The vocals, although standard fare industrial, carry a depth beyond the usual mechanized angst-ridden vocals found on industrial records. Gilt is more than industrial dross; Machines Of Loving Grace have become a confident band which writes catchy, intriguing songs. ”
CMJ Review of Concentration #1
Machines of Loving Grace (the name is derived from the title of a Richard Brautigan poem) is an aptly-named band. While the latest trend in electronic-based dance music is to push the sonic envelope further and further, as with techno’s densely compressed bloops and bleeps or the equally breakneck guitar frenzy of Ministry-styled aggro, Machines of Loving Grace tempers its rhythms with delicacy and even fragility. Overdriven, processed guitars and pounding dance beats are a presence on this album, but more often than not they lurk menacingly in the background behind elegant synth washes and vocalist Scott Benzel’s whispery ruminations. This works to the band’s advantage: while the band’s revved-up attempts at Reznorian angst-rock generally come off as half-baked Ministr-ations, the slower tracks like “If I Should Explode” and “Ancestor Cult” are melancholy and moody without veering off into self-pity. In fact, the band’s focus on skillful orchestrations and dark but conventional melodies points to a certain unashamed `80s pop sensibility; songs like the vaguely funky “Cheap” owe a lot more to, say, Tears For Fears than to Skinny Puppy. Industrial purists may turn up their noses, but pop fans looking for something with teeth will welcome Concentration’s synthesis of the mechanized and the melodic.
CMJ Review of Concentration #2
If the Sisters Of Mercy had come from Arizona, they might have been the Machines Of Loving Grace. “Rite Of Shiva,” the first single from the band’s debut album, introduced a young band with a sharp head for choruses and beats made for dancing glee. Free of second-album jinxes, Concentration lives up to its title, adding oodles more guitars and a real live drummer, and compressing its emotional phrases. It’s the band’s first studio recording ,and the songs reflect the upgraded setting. This album is brimming with grungy chords, percolating keyboards, expressive vocals and lots of those groovy choruses. Production by Swans’ Roli Mosimann (who’s also worked with The The, Mind Bomb and Young Gods) provides ample explanation for the changes, leaving the album without any of his band’s renowned dirges. MOLG’s overall pop streak is sprinkled with gothic flecks, throwing off any Nine Inch Nails comparisons. “Butterfly Wings,” the first single, plunges into a thick web of snarling grooves after a sparkling New Order-ish intro; available here in a remix by Jack Dangers from Meat Beat Manifesto and Mark Pistol from Consolidated, it must have been a powerful statement before they could even get to the knobs. This game of Concentration isn’t that hard: “Acceleration,” “Lilith/Eve” and “Ancestor Cult.”
CMJ Review of Self Titled Album
Beauty and discordant charm are the product of the Machines Of Loving Grace. Most of the music on their debut is made by machines and technology (distinctively balanced by real guitars, bass and strings), and the album’s strongest asset is its retaining of a natural breath. The more industrial moments remind us of Nine Inch Nails, but they counter that propulsive-ness with supple bell-like melodies that emit a friendly and welcoming warmth. Annie Lenox-like background vocals gives, the darkness of this Tucson, AZ trio’s music a shining Tight that is cultivated and nurtured on songs like the hauntingly gracious “Cicciolina” (the album’s pinnacle) and “X-Insurrection.” Other songs like “Rite Of Shiva,” “Burn Like Brilliant Trash (At Jackie’s Funeral)” and “Lipstick 66” obsessively show this trio stamping out that very same light with an acrid, yet still inviting, fanaticism. Yes, there are lots of contradictions in these lines, but that is what the sounds of Machines Of Loving Grace so genteelly suggest.