~reviewed by Mick Mercer
Never having been a fan of the more playful noisy bands, Chaos Engine will never be a favourite of mine, and with many tracks here sounding like second division Prodigy it’s hard to get doubts from my mind. To people who do like the torrid jumble of hammering rhythms which emerge from typically slow and wayward openings this should go down fine. It has clear character and obvious variety, and if anyone needs mania thrown at them here it is. I consider playing anything like this out of choice at home. It’s a live or walkman-about-town experience.
The drawback here for me is eight entirely pointless diversions which crop up between actual songs, (the tracklisting covers 23 tracks), and the fact some songs make a mess of certain changes, just as the vocals lags sorely behind in their capabilities. In the perfectly provocative ‘Nerve Opera’ the music is brilliantly captivating but the voice horribly disappointing, just as they all but drift off during the adventurous ‘Resurrection Kisses’.
Musically, they’re quite predictable a lot of the time, because the furious jumble just sparks into life after forty seconds of music, and then it’s just down to how well it holds your attention. They’re capable of capturing the incisiveness of early NIN, with brighter edges, but they can also wobble precariously, with vicarious thrills being too brief in sluggish songs as ‘Sick, Broke, Happy’; and ‘Welcome To The Future It Is Broken’. The final irony is that they also don’t get as loud or as powerful as you start to want at many stages.
When it works, like the hippo in a china shop called ‘Rebellion Lite’ it has the power and variety, with cool verbal tenacity all reaching a peak together, with ‘Jesus Christ V2.0’ pushing it close, then ‘Naphephilia’ is brave enough to remain subdued throughout. The final track is what has to be their standard for them from now on, because ‘Go Offline’ really holds the interest in a specific way that none of the others do, as it’s the one track here where the lyrics actually connect with you. It adds an extra layer of excitement, and a few more experiences like that would have radically altered my perception of them.
It’s a very good record, but not for me.