808 HAZE MACHINE (DEU) – Proof of concept, 2021 🇬🇧

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Sometimes the best ideas and solutions seem so simple that we think anyone could do them, yet no one develops them but the pioneer. How has such a simple drum pattern been able to give DISCHARGE such an immortal legacy, copied a thousand times? Is this fame well deserved even if everyone could learn it in a short time? Of course, but retrospectively. That is why DISCHARGE has had and will have a thousand bands-copies. Well, speaking about simple yet original ideas, we can say the same about 808 HAZE MACHINE, the only ones to pull off the idea of changing the death metal drums for Kanye West‘s beats. But since the headline is a bit misleading and a bit tabloid journalism, let’s go back a few decades.

That a drum machine can revolutionize a musical genre is nothing new. We can see that nowadays with trap, whose genesis was the Roland TR 808 box and which has already been used on guitar-driven genres. But this electronic instrument has a deeper story behind, beyond this generation of facially tattooed rappers. I do not know if it was the original use of it, but the first commercial exhibition came from Marvin Gaye in 1982 with his ubiquitous «Sexual healing«. A beat that despite being automated, had a very smooth and calm sound. Years later, when that monster called hip hop gobbled up pretty much the entire history of black music, he included the 808 on his menu. And in 2008, when part-time creative musician and full-time asshole Kanye West decided to make a full record using this box in 808 & heartbreak, he influenced thousands of musicians which were more on the melodic and melancholic spectrum of the genre, like Drake.

Trap perverted its original path with a style that has little or nothing to do with peacefulness. And, at the same time, this unknown German duo has decided to follow the aggressive trend using the 808 as a replacement for their organic drums. However, there is a fundamental difference with trap metal bands: In this case, not everything gravitates exclusively towards the beats, as a base to rap and have the guitars working as loops. This is not hip hop dressed as extreme metal, because in those cases the songs could not be understood without the electronic beats since they are the heart of the songs. The four main songs on this EP could be played with organic drums and they wouldn’t drastically change. An insultingly simple idea, but… No one else has thought of it. Even on «Metascene«, where there is a bit of rapping, it all sounds natural. Both the guitars/bass and vocals are the ones that really command.

That doesn´t mean that the instruments have not been adapted to the beats of the 808. Perhaps the drum machine would have fallen apart if HAZE MACHINE had used in excess for blast beats, and for that reason, all of the tunes, except for a section of «Scourge«, are mid tempo. They give in and adjust to the 808’s rhythm to make this marriage work. But the death metal that the Germans play, is pretty traditional on its own. They could do as some adorable GRAVE worshipers with that thick sound. The obvious difference, of course, in production and percussion, which make opens a whole world between them and these 90’s Gods.  And in turn, working with the beat, and not for the beat, leaves them in a strange border with their contemporaries.

HAZE MACHINE even make the effort to leave us quite unsettled on a couple of songs. I previously mentioned that there were four main songs on Proof of concept, but there are two don’t really fit the norm: «When AI masters art, what will it sing about«, and «Hush, Hush«. The first is a short dark ambient song that shows up unexpectedly, and the second is some sort of lullaby entirely made with synthesizers and a female voice. As if CARPENTER BRUT or GOST stopped making non-existent dystopian movie soundtracks and developed some love for the human race. As much as I like both, we have to be fair and admit that they completely break the pace of the album, which makes me believe that this is a test EP in the broadest sense of the word, throwing risky ideas everywhere, to see what goes well and what doesn’t. When the real test will come with a full length EP, if it does come someday. Well, after all, we are talking about proof of concept, right?

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