Anyone who has heard Our People Versus Yours‘ first two EPs no doubt has the same feeling as many others; that their sound shows a glimmer of promise, demonstrating moments of hair-raising intensity, largely overshadowed by forgettable material. The title of their first album, a line lifted from Charlie Chaplin’s electrifying speech from ‘The Great Dictator’, raises a certain expectation – that the band are ready to elevate above the mediocrity of previous releases.
As an album, ‘Machine Hearts, Machine Minds’ is an inconsistent experience, occupying the weird no man’s land between melody and aggression. Metalcore is all about blending these two elements and, though there are instances where OPVY achieve this to fine effect (‘Fear No Evil’), there’s also the sense that the two are being purposely kept apart, separated into aggressive and softer tracks. It makes for a disjointed listen.
This means that ‘Machine Hearts, Machine Minds’ will have a tough time satisfying either crowd. Those looking for infectious hooks and a poppier path will be put off by the hulking heaviness of ‘Horror Is This’, while those looking to swing their fists will be unable to do so to the light and radio-friendly ‘Machine Hearts’, a track so clearly vying for mainstream radioplay with its huge chorus that the effect is jarring when compared to the rest of the material.
The album has an identity crisis, but there are good examples of the form in each camp OPVY choose to occupy. Opener ‘Rejoice’ is a rasping flurry of feeling, followed in quick succession by ‘Horror Is This’ to create a brash and convincing opening salvo. Then ‘Machine Hearts’ arrives, representing a distinctive shift in tone, before the vocal sparring of ‘Last Seven Days’ brings welcome shades of Alexisonfire and We Are The Ocean to the mix. There are unfortunate missteps, with overindulgence (‘T Butler 2718984’) on one hand and half-baked ideas (‘Afterlife’) in the other which break up the experience. But, when OPVY hit their mark, they’re an enjoyable proposition.
It’s typical metalcore fare, yes, and nothing that The Chariot and August Burns Red haven’t already covered years ago, but when tracks like ‘Rejoice’ and ‘Fear No Evil’, land it’s hard to deny the power of their music when they let themselves off the leash. The bright spots come bunched up at the beginning of the album and the lurching tone between tracks accentuates the patchy quality, but ‘Machine Hearts, Machine Minds’ is a solid effort for a first full-length release. It won’t take them to the big leagues, but with another album or two down the line, who knows?
Written by Grant Bailey