Shihad: Beautiful Machine
By Shaun Chait
It’s a Shihad theme for each new album to be partly a response to the previous one. That would make ‘Beautiful Machine’ the chirpier, quieter, more POPular younger brother of the aggressive, moody and bulked up ‘Love Is The New Hate’. It’s a nice and well-accepted theory, but only partly accurate. In truth, Shihad are at their very best when in equal parts combining crashing brute metal strength with pop tilting melody. And every album has ‘em (think All The Young Fascists off the last effort, or for the ultimate verse/chorus contrast of the two, Alive). On ‘Beautiful Machine’, this winning formula is represented by the instant Shihad classic Chameleon and Rule The World - with its menacing big riff reminiscent of the last album and threatening a monster, only this time dragged off in a shiny glam rock direction. Although this album has been termed the ‘most accessible’ (read: ‘melodic’) I’ve found it more of a grower than previous outings. Hard to Please reveals itself to be emotive and beautifully expressed, while Eliza and especially The Bible and The Gun open up on every listen. Lyrically there’s plenty of religion and politics to the fore here. Recorded in Melbourne, it was produced by the band with Matt Lovell and mixed in London by Alan Moulder.