Mon. Mar 1st, 2021

9.1.2020 Machinae Supremacy @ On The Rocks, Helsinki

Swedish SID metallers MACHINAE SUPREMACY did a tour through Finland at the beginning of January 2020, stopping at On the Rocks in Helsinki On the 9th. 

We arrived in plenty of time to see the show and were surprised to see how packed the venue was. It’s clear the band has a very dedicated and enthusiastic fanbase as there was no standing room whatsoever on the floor. 

The show started with an epic intro with really heavy-sounding drums done by Nicky Karvonen and his cool-looking LED-lit drumsticks make for a simple, yet cool gimmick. The song is from their newly released soundtrack to “Jets ‘n’ Guns 2”

The set was fairly evenly mixed between their material, with the first half leaning towards music for the older fans, while the second had more music from their recent albums like “A View from the End of the World,” “Rise Of a Digital Nation,” and “Phantom Shadow.”

The first song they played was “A View from the End of the World,” the title track from their 2010 hit album of the same name. “Fury” followed, with some truly fantastic guitar riffing; Jonas Rörling and Tomi Luoma were fantastic and dynamically moved the music forward. “Conveyor” had a great attack force in the beginning and the guitarists looked so laid-back and cool while they were playing. MACHINAE SUPREMACY’s legendary cover of “Gimme More” had a disco metal intro, very naughty sounds, and an erotic vibe… perfect for a BRITNEY SPEARS cover.

Vocalist Robert Stjärnström is really great to watch. He is very down-to-earth, with no trace of diva or rockstar in him. He just seems cool, in control, with good command of the crowd, confident without being overly self-assured, annoying, or arrogant. His vocal style is also really well-suited to the SID metal style and retro gaming sound.

Speaking of the SID metal style, MACHINAE SUPREMACY is such a breath of fresh air in the metal scene. Considering so few bands use chiptunes – and if they do, it’s certainly not as often or as dedicatedly as MACHINAE SUPREMACY does – it goes without saying that these guys have no true competitors in their own niche, which makes them feel so unique compared to all the other “power metal” bands out there. There were a few times throughout the night when they amped up the SID sounds a bit louder and let them take center stage, allowing the band moments where they could step back, regroup, and perhaps preserve some energy to unleash afterwards. If I had any suggestions, it would be to push the chiptunes further! Gimme more! There’s no need to hold back. 

“Renegades” has a powerful marching beat, which results in a slower tempo; my friend told me this song is about a guy trying to recruit people to his cause, which explains why the song feels like a great and heroic proclamation. It also felt very RPG-like, which is appealing to us geeks and gamers. The guitars too had a nice, sharp sound and they had a sort of rending vibe that worked really well. 

“Nova Prospekt” has a cool, heavy, and emotional instrumental outro. The chiptunes and guitars were woven beautifully together in the song, and everyone pumped their fist as Stjärnström sang “go, go, go!” “Persona” has a tragic melody that pulls at the heartstrings, with really melancholic electronic parts. “Force Feedback” had maybe the best use of the chiptunes of everything and the sinister synth sound in “Radio Future” really set it apart from other songs.

The show ended with a nice selection of fan favorites, starting with “Rocket Dragon” and “Player One,” and finishing with their big radio hit, “Through the Looking Glass.”

This musical style well-depicts why boss music in video games is often so heavy because it creates such an incredible atmosphere. MACHINAE SUPREMACY takes that vibe and translates it perfectly into their music. Overall it was a really fun show, which likely is even more enjoyable if you play video games and/or are a big old nerd (like me). The nostalgia for games long past is strong, while the music is modern and song selection made for a really fun experience.

Article by Simo Kuusterä
Photos by Miia Collander

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