ALBUM REVIEW: Gold Key – Panic Machine

Release Date: May 1st 2020
Label: Venn Records


Industrial through and through, Gold Key‘s beefy twelve-track offering ‘Panic Machine’ draws on the grit of 2000s alternative rock, pushing talons relentlessly into the gritty stylisms that boded so well for this genre back in the day.

Some would argue that the nature of this release is outdated, but there’s no expiry date on unadulterated attitude – that’s kind of the whole point. Opening tracks ‘Sweet Darkness’ and ‘Don’t Sleep’ boast thick, frisky guitar riffs (Laurent Barnard) and haunting vocals (Steve Sears) respectively, but the latter undoubtedly overshadows its predecessor, donning much crisper energy.

‘Mechanical World’ is not dissimilar to its earlier counterparts, whipping the same vibratos against broody bass lines (James Leach) and offering little variety amidst the album’s overwhelming greys. ‘Trick Of The Light’ crawls into the smoke and almost loses itself among the barbed tracks that surround it, and, by this point, deciphering each effort from its siblings becomes increasingly difficult.

‘A Fly Into The Sun’ is jarring, laden with unaligned guitar offerings and vocal deliveries that swoop beneath the crooks of staggered drum beats. Occasional instrumental shrieks and distorted notes pepper the runtime with neck-jerking volatility, finally christening the latter half of the album with some personality.

A buzzing embodiment of the album’s unnerving title, ‘Millions’ crouches at a meagre thirty seconds, but carries more character than some of those that came before it. Cacophonous and spiked with a metallic poignance, Gold Key twist the knife a little with this interlude as the release fizzles out into British back alleys.

While maintaining the gloom of the overarching aesthetic, ‘The Best Of Luck’ protrudes from the album’s back in a swell of inky magnificence. It appears that here, all elements of the release that once felt pessimistic and downtrodden tie together in an overdue compliance.

‘Panic Machine’ is stylistically monochromatic for the most part, but it’s undeniable that Gold Key have cemented their charcoaled style with this sophomore full-length. While diversion among its content would have elevated the release, its creative consistence is nothing short of commendable.