The Soviet Machines are a three-piece rock band from Minneapolis, Minnesota by high school friends singer/guitarist Jack Swagger and drummer Marcus Jones that initially began in 2006. After two independent releases, the group split up in 2009. In early 2020, the band regrouped with the addition of vocalist/bassist Rich Salsbury and began working on new material.
In September, the band traveled to Seattle to work with legendary producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Afghan Whigs). The self-titled album that resulted is filled with everything that makes the band great; big guitars, loud roomy drums and infectious melodies. These elements coupled with Endino’s live, raw production, and use of first takes gives the record a classic charm and vibrancy missing in most modern albums.
The strength of the album was enough to garner the attention of Midwest punk label DC-Jam Records who signed the group less than two weeks after the completion of the album. The LP is slated to drop digitally on January 1st and on 12” vinyl on February 12th.
Opening the record with ‘Get Your Kicks’, it gives Jack Swagger plenty of chance to open up on a good note. Everything is a touch cliche because it evokes everything a good Punk track should be and it moves between lush textures and engulfing breakdowns as they just attack it.
Following up with ‘You Should Kill Me’, this is a vicious and claustrophobic counterpart and much moodier foundation for what the record is, showing they know how to be a little more subtle in their track titles.
Clocking in at 1:56, ‘Baby We’re Gonna Die’ is the shortest track in the record and definitely one of the more visceral offerings on the record but is a burst of punching catharsis that is on hand, yet all the more thrashing in that guitar breakdown.
Now onto ‘Two Shots (To The Back Of The Head)‘ and this is where Jack’s vocals at at their fullest where the track comes into fruition of a standout on the record. Moving from the lunging breakdowns and relying on the talents of all members, this is where the band seem most confident, showing they have plenty to offer.
Moving to a much more slower theme for ‘All We Are’, they take a bold gamble which is a u-turn to what has featured on the record so far but with the tentative and expansive sound, it’s one that pays off in the crushing ending.
Getting into the penultimate ‘Better Way’, this is a much better effort than most tracks on the record for the band and you hear why. The production of the track is superior to anything that’s produced and it ensures that they elevate and push beyond what they’re capable of. Also, the drums are where they’re at their most expert level and the arrangement just comes together so beautifully. This is a track where the band outshine themselves.
Closing out with ‘Bittersweet Angel’, there’s a slight classic rock vibe to the punk nature of things but it works to their advantage. Instead of slipping back into a lesser final track, this heightens their efforts and capabilities to catapult them into what they can achieve with this record. This is the sign of good things to stop them sinking and finish the record on a high note.
Overall, this record is a rewarding leap for The Soviet Machines. I was just expecting a generic Punk Rock record and was pleasantly surprised in places because of the levels of production from those closing tracks. They keep their trajectory up and deliver this type of content, they’ll outdo themselves, especially with that raw passion in their production.
You can listen to the record via Spotify.
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