When I think about perfect albums, the first one that comes to mind that I’m very happy to listen to whenever and wherever is “A View from the End of the World,” my first and favorite MACHINAE SUPREMACY album. This was, to my knowledge, their third release via Spinefarm Records after “Redeemer” (2006) and “Overworld” (2008), and one of the most complete and consistent albums, start-to-finish, that I’ve ever heard. This album was released 10 years ago today, so we’re revisiting it to see how it holds up after a decade.
The buildup in the intro to the title track is cool – it’s rather immediately fast-paced, which is unusual when there are songs or albums that start out with integrated vocal recordings, as this one does. I think it’s a great opening track though, with that strong MASU energy and an awesome rhythm. Also, it has one of my favorite lines: “I want some flying cars / a ticket to the stars / or even just a world without religious wars…” The voices at the beginning and the end seem to link onward into “Rocket Dragon,” as they are taken from the Wikileaked recordings from the Apache helicopter videos.
The strong energy continues into “Force Feedback,” where the addition of Tove Sundström on female vocals adds another level to the already nice music. The lyrics, too, are cool as they can be taken in many ways. “Rocket Dragon” maintains the energy level yet again, with its lyrics about armored helicopters (the aforementioned Apaches), though you could interpret this song in many ways if you were so inclined. “Persona” is the first break from the strongly energetic songs, though I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a slow song. I’d love to know more about what this song is about from the band’s perspective, but my interpretation would be how some people put on false personalities to face the world (which can be hard to handle) and suffer for it – losing your own personality to be accepted; “Do you believe in the world they made for you / do you belong or do you try to / erase yourself just to pass as one of them … Why don’t you get that you have killed yourself / and you’re in hell / and it is your own fault for once as well…”
“Nova Prospekt” brings the energy level back up to where it was, and this happens to be one of MASU‘s more popular live songs as well, allowing for some proper fist pumping to “now go-go-go” in the chorus. Again guessing on the theme, I’d just suggest this is about war, at least on some level. Possibly war gaming too. “World of Light” is the only instrumental on the album, which is relaxed and gentle and quite pleasing, serving as a nice break before they really kick things up to 11 with “Shinigami.”
If you want to introduce someone to MASU via their use of SID sounds, this is the song to do it with, as “Shinigami” has some of perhaps their most lively and fun SID music in recent years. This is a great party song and in the end refers back to “World of Light,” though I don’t know the relationship – perhaps the latter is meant to be an introduction to “Shinigami”? “Cybergenesis” takes things down a notch after the hard-hitting “Shinigami” and has a really nice rhythm in its chorus. It’s somewhat laid-back without being excessively chill. Also, another nice lyric in the end: “There’s no fate but that which we make for ourselves / but we are a breath, just a moment in time and space…”
Next up is “Action Girl,” a tribute to female action heroes like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If I’m offering my own perspective, I’ve always taken this as a tribute to Buffy from Spike’s perspective, basing that on the last few lines from the song: “No one said it would be easy for you / that’s why I’m here to be your toy / now take your clothes off and enjoy…” However, I was told that the broader perspective is not limited to that particular series. Regardless, it’s an excellent homage to strong female characters and a nice pro-feminist track.
If you ask me how I was introduced to MACHINAE SUPREMACY and what made me instantly fall in love with them, I’ll give you one line to explain it: “I’m gonna do you a favor / and not teabag you for your behavior…” Enough said. This song shouldn’t need any explanation if you’ve ever heard anything ever about Call of Duty -style FPS (first person shooter) games and the obnoxious people and/or trolls you’ll find in multiplayer online gaming. I have to give particular credit to the taking of the higher road that this song portrays, as well as the SID breakdown at around 3:30 – I’d consider this one of MASU‘s more underrated songs that I’d love to hear live someday.
And then we have “Indiscriminate Murder is Counterproductive,” the Finnish fan favorite. I have many fond memories associated with this song and it’s catchy tune and funny lyrics about running around murdering NPCs in video games without any regard for the actual story makes this playful tune a joy to listen to every single time. I also have to appreciate this song as the predecessor to “The Second One” in “Phantom Shadow” (2014), which turned out to be an excellent sequel track and lived up to this song’s good name. It’s clear why this track is so popular.
And if we keep my streak of favorite MASU songs going, we’ve now reached “One Day in the Universe,” which is perhaps one of my all-time favorite songs and perhaps my favorite love song. I won’t go into details here, but if you want to hear my thoughts on this why this song is so great, you can check out this blog post about how I think this song is one of the most beautiful and modern romance songs in existence. Insert heart doodles and tear stains here.
NIGHTWISH wasn’t the first band to call a song “The Greatest Show on Earth”; with this track, the album begins to wind down. Have I ever mentioned how much I love how long some MASU albums are? “Rise of a Digital Nation” is short for them at 10 tracks, compared to this 14-track monster or the real beast in their collection, “Phantom Shadow” with its 16 tracks. This song talks about modern online life, with social media and access to information, it’s up- and downsides, but overall the song has a positive message about what the internet has to offer. A necessary perspective sometimes, when the internet becomes burdensome and a reminder is needed as to what the net is good for.
“The Greatest Show on Earth” could have been a good place to end the album, with it’s nice message and sort of wind-down pleasant beat, but with that in mind, I’d perhaps consider “Remnant: March of the Undead IV” almost as a long outro track. The fourth installment of that particular song series feels fairly horror/zombie-like in essence, though I suspect that there further layers to it beyond that. This one, in particular, has some sort of “why would God make the world so cruel”… I won’t even call them “undertones” because they’re right there in the words. Someday I will give this full series a proper listening so I can develop a deeper appreciation for it. As it stands at this point, this works well as a cool-down track – it’s still got that energy, but it also feels very… final.
Ultimately, in spite of the fact that MACHINAE SUPREMACY doesn’t experiment very much with their sound, “A View from the End of the World” is a fantastic and consistent album, with great thought-provoking lyrics, tasteful chiptunes, and great soloing. It also covers a lot of interesting subjects and the songs are open to many interpretations. While one might argue in favor of “Overworld,” I think this is the album where Robert Stjärnström truly blossomed as a vocalist and took control of his voice and made it work for him (and not the other way around). Though I know many MASU fans out there consider the band’s older material to be their best, I’m going to go ahead and disagree. Maybe it’s just because this was my first of their albums, but it’s pretty impossible to find anything to complain about here.
Written by Bear Wiseman
- A View from the End of the World
- Force Feedback
- Rocket Dragon
- Nova Prospekt
- World of Light
- Action Girl
- Crouching Camper, Hidden Sniper
- Indiscriminate Murder is Counterproductive
Robert “Gaz” Stjärnström – vocals
Jonas “Gibli” Rörling – guitar
Andreas “Gordon” Gerdin – guitar
“Dezo” – bass
Nicky Karvonen – drums
Interview Phantom Elite – “It’s always good to share that feeling that none of us is alone in hard times”