The thought of a Kinked Slinky conjures images of metal twisted onto itself, unable to free itself from its own embrace. No longer to walk down stairs. Alone. Or in pairs.
Metal Machine's Kinked Slinky keeps twisting back onto itself, always finding a way to go back to where it was before. The sound is a mix of familiar, but distinctly different genres: common drum-machine dance rhythms, fuzz guitar stabs and lines, synth lines that go from 80's prom song to techno-rave and an overall feel that ranges from late-era Jerri-curl funk to post-modern industrial dance. The first 3 tracks play like Robert Palmer's attempt at a come back. Fat rock rhythm and heavy Texas blues lines intermixed with modern keyboard dance synth and techno fills.
Seek Nothing is a standout. Mellower than the others, but not skimpy on a good groove. A strong balance between the orchestration, arrangement, and vocals. Bring Down the House starts with the out-take "yo, yo, gimme a beat B'. A bad setup for a passable tune that plays like a dance B-side to an INXS radio release. Laying off the guitars and heavy neo-metal distorted backup vocals brings out a nicer, but repetitive groove.
Slam requires a polish, and highlights the weak points of the band's sound. Use of cheesy synth-created record scratches and the mixing of too many styles feels very forced. The poserness of the over-sung vocals are amplified in the hook line 'c'mon lets slam.' Bowie's copyright boys might be calling if they hear Hippy Girl. It doesn't deviate far enough away from the tune Golden Years for me to buy that it was simply 'inspired.'
Burstin' is a good goth-industrial tune, but it does not set itself apart from the current crop of rhythmic, hard dance tunes. It is rounded out with a rap out-take that is out of place and incredibly similar in rhythm and melody to Baby Got Back. Isolation Blvd. plays like a fine Floyd tune. The drawn out tremolo guitar, the wave-synth melody lines and the hard chordal steps. "If I had one Wish, I wish you were here."
Kinked Slinky is a good showcase of the collaboration between Blue(1) and Terry Miller of Dirty Deal. The songs are well-recorded and engineered. The stylistic offerings of the two have brought about some very nice songs with their roots in industrial and techno-metal and singer-songwriter music. The juxtaposition of the two creates an interesting sound that harkens back to Love and Rockets' experiments with more danceable styles in the late 80s. A style popularized with INXS' Kick, and later with Love Spit Love.
The weaknesses of the album come from the execution of the individual members. Blue's vocals are unmistakable. And even though there is vast improvement from his earlier works, he still suffers from occasional over-singing, attempting to color a lyric with style rather than emotion, that drags a song down into a Jim Morrison bar cover band sound. At times the lyrics and vocal styles deviate from the music enough to be very noticeably different.
It is well-done, however Kinked Slinky is nothing new. The combination of singer-songwriter stylings with pop dance-rock sounds dates back long before disco. Done well it can be a new vein of a career as with Bowie or Love and Rockets and influence style. Done the other way you get retread pop tunes and Robert Palmer. Metal Machine is somewhere in the middle.
(1) Interviewed in Legends #122.
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