REVIEW: THE END MACHINE – “The End Machine”
Every hard rock fan’s wet dream is to have a killer guitar virtuoso accompanied by solid kitchen and a powerhouse vocalist. Even better when this lineup features no less than classic-era Dokken members George Lynch (guitars), Jeff Pilson (bass), and Mick Brown (drums) as well as current Warrant vocalist Robert Mason. Well then, The End Machine, this new supergroup, will be releasing their eponymous debut via Frontiers Music on March, 22nd, and just by looking at the lineup you can see what’s coming.
“But hey, wait a second. Isn’t this just Dokken without Don Dokken?!” you might ask. Well, yes and no. While Lynch’s style of playing and the band’s songwriting may reminisce Dokken, there are constant twists here and there in the instrumental lines and especially in Mason’s more raw approach to vocals that makes The End Machine its own thing.
The album doesn’t start very well, true, but eventually these old dudes remember how to play awesome, catchy hard rock and blow you away. “Leap of Faith” and “Hold Me Down” have similar pace and don’t bring anything stellar to the table, but are well executed and decent enough to not scare you right from the start. Follow up “No Game” walks the same path, but it’s even slower and features some 70’s style guitar playing, which can appease to the more classic rock ‘n’ roll fans.
“Bulletproof” is beautifully constructed and Lynch even throws some bluesy leads to show his roots, which intertwines greatly with the atmosphere. While I’m not the target audience for this by any stretch of the imagination, the song construction still pleased me – an enthusiast of epic heavy metal with strong love laces with death, black and anything that may classify me as “trve” or “cvlt” – so there definitely something good here.
The best portion of the record starts with the next song, “Ride It”. This is a ballsy, rebel display of awesome hard/heavy mastery that only Lynch and company could achieve with such swag. Brown’s pace is killer, and while Lynch’s guitar lines need no introduction and he does the best solo in the album, it’s actually Mason who truly shines here. His performance is top-notch and he adds fuel to the fire by nailing his screams perfectly.
“Burn the Truth” is more atmospheric and plays kind of like a mix between Warrant’s ‘Dog Eat Dog’ (1992) era and Lynch Mob’s more blues-oriented tracks. Lynch does yet again a great job here in the acoustic lines, and Mason’s vocal versatility is a great asset, but this time around is Jeff Pilson who steals the show with monstrous bass lines.
“Hard Road” and “Alive Today” are antagonistic between themselves, as the former is more of an “it’s a though life” kind of track and the latter is uplifting, but they are played similarly structure-wise. “Hard Road” is the better part here mainly because it’s more mature and chorus is catchier.
This is a very diverse album – as much as a hard rock album can be – and it shows by the time “Line of Division” and “Sleeping Voices” come in. Both pretty much abandon the “70’s/80’s mixed with modern” approach and take you back to the early 90’s. “Line of Division” brings a groovy vibe to the mix, while “Sleeping Voices” is a classic VH1 Skid Row-esque semi-ballad.
The most rock ‘n’ roll track here, “Life Is Love Is Music” closes the record in the most cliché way possible, with a radio-friendly chorus and safe playing to the max. It’s not a bad tune, but it could be better offered as a bonus track instead of a closer.
George Lynch and company are masters of creating catchy, memorable hard rock music, and with The End Machine these old-timers delivered exactly that. This serves perfectly as background music – and my guess is that it’s even better for US-hard rock maniacs. If you’re into Dokken, Warrant, Lynch Mob, Lynch & Sweet, Badlands or anything somewhat related to these, you should definitely check it out.