Maggot Heart: Mercy Machine

At first glance, the album cover of Maggot Heart’s whirlwind of a demented acid rock coup Mercy Machine looks like if Slayer fell into a magical toon world.

If that is what went through anyone’s mind, it isn’t far off.

Linnea Olsson’s rip-roaring barrage is a playfully sadistic mix of underground fury. Part of being a dark wave of PCP-wizardry is offering twists and turns that make you believe one thing but then having a black bag put over you as you are thrown screaming into a van.

You will be kidnapped in that notion by track one “Second Class”, which explodes with discordance that would make The Chariot and early Norma Jean proud. Then right as you get buckled in for a hardcore experience, Olsson switches into a surf-punk glide.

There is a lot to enjoy about the album. Raw production, simplistic musicianship that doesn’t distract from the message, and pure post-goth savagery.

“Sex Breath” is quick, boggling, and smells like what it claims. There are even chantable choruses with attention-grabbing fishhooks in “Justine” and “Roses”. They have hooks that catch earworms and they are the best songs on the album. The surprises continue into the swamp sludge of “Gutter Feeling”. It’s a creepy whispering of a thing that shouldn’t be coming closer to attack, but the vibe is completely early Rush, just like “High Rise”, which could have been a bootleg from Signals. “High Rise” even has sixteenth-note high hat patterns coupled with 80s-cyborg vocal effects.

Strangely enough, the eponymous track “Mercy Machine” is underwhelming for something that should be such a malicious contraption.

“Modern Cruelty” is the true machine of mercilessness on the album. Double-time tempo gallops, a thrashdown of Metallica-sized proportion, and a never-ending chasm of powerchord sirens that end the album ferociously, almost like a bell that never stops tolling.

Mercy Machine is a thrillingly evil vibe worthy of a Burning Man metalhead. The whole album makes you feel like you are in a van drinking Nos and consuming gas station hot dogs. Linnea Olsson and Co. have a wicked tornado of an album and it was out July 10th through Rapid Eye Records. Make way for one of the vilest summers you will ever have.

Rating: 8.0/10