A shrill, archaic, wretched excuse for a modern rock record, Machina’s To Live and Die in the Garden of Eden is displeasure on many levels. Oh sure, it’ll rock the worlds of fans of groups like Staind and Nickelback with its pitiful imitation of Layne Staley meets Eddie Vedder vocals and floppy, colour-by-numbers songcraft. Those who’ve never heard another rock record, like, ever may find some value in it.
But for those who’ve actually heard other bands and tend to enjoy music as an art form rather than as a way of passing the time in elevators, this nasty rash of flavourless garbage will simply not do.
Machina is the project of ex-Future Leaders of the World vocalist Phil Taylor and two former members of Evanescence in guitarist John LeCompt and drummer Rocky Gray. Bassist Thad Ables also punches the clock.
The band, which is apparently filming a television series called The Making of Rockstars, is hard to take seriously. They may be sincere, but their approach isn’t the least bit inventive and their songs are as undeveloped and monotonous as possible. Their lyrical content makes Justin Bieber seem like Bob Dylan.
To Live and Die in the Garden of Eden opens with “Crown,” a dreadfully chugging locomotive that finds Taylor half-shouting his vocals. He actually settles in decently to the frontman position for the first verse and even the chorus, but the whimper starts to seep in as the song progresses and things change for the god-awful in a hurry.
When “For Fame” slides into the station, Machina has gone from being a basic but energetic bar band into a disastrous musical project that deserves pity more than record sales and reality TV shows. The whining tone makes the lyrics almost unintelligible and the derivative tune flaps around lazily until it runs out of air.
“This Goodbye,” the third song, cements To Live and Die in the Garden of Eden in pathetic territory. From the uncomfortably unnatural word placement to Taylor’s miserable pup rendering of the woe-is-me lyrics, it’s enough to turn even the most tolerant listener into a puddle of unresponsive gloop. Listen to how he spaces out “I am sorry to say this goodbye to you.” Oh dear.
From the whiny “Trust” to the dreadfully corny “Precious,” To Live and Die in the Garden of Eden just doesn’t get any better and Machina actually seems to get worse. And by the time the silly and disgraceful “Belladonna” rolls around, all hope is lost.