Review: Machiavellian Art ‘Indoctrination Sounds’

At one point recently, I had my review schedule caught up, and I asked our tireless, fearless, editor, and founder, The Shaman himself, if he had some promos he wanted to be covered. Out of the handful suggested, I wound up grabbing Machiavellian Art, based on the name, and the description for their second full-length Indoctrination Sounds, which mentioned doom metal, hardcore punk, shoegaze, industrial noise, among others, including ‘sax-honking, noise-rock’. It all sounded interesting enough, so I strapped on my ear goggles and hit play.

Machiavellian Art 'Indoctrination Sounds'

All of the descriptions are valid, and on display immediately as opener Serotonin Problem invades the listener’s consciousness with some feedback and a grimy bassline courtesy of Amy Murphy. It then quickly builds up to a lurching, distorted, hypnotic, doom-ish guitar riff conjured from guitarists Joe Parkes and John Andrews that’s accentuated by a plodding, low-end thud from drummer Sam Hunt. As well, vocalist Benjamin Thomas quickly makes his presence felt, both with some fucked-up, distorted screams, and the previously-described ‘sax-honking’, which both work well in context with the plodding, menacing riff-trance.

The uneasy vibes continue with Faceless Voices. Murphy holds down a creepy, walking bassline, while Parkes and Andrews unleash all manner of guitar squalls and agitated noises. Meanwhile, Thomas bellows all sorts of menacing shit into the microphone, it’s so distorted, it’s mostly indiscernible, but whether I can understand him or not, his menace and anxiousness is on full display, which again, adds to the overall tense vibe. The title track, Indoctrination Sounds, picks up the pace, pushing the ante on the aggression, while still dwelling in Machiavellian Art’s established, industrial, grime, aesthetic. I can, however, discern Thomas, at least a little, as he bellows ‘indoctrinate’ through a wall of echoed, distortion.

an uneasy, anxious, claustrophobic vibe, that’s hammered home by the band’s dirty, industrial, riff-hypnosis…

Elsewhere, Revolution is almost ‘bouncy’ in comparison to the pounding, distorted, riff-trance of previous tracks, but make no mistake, Revolution conjures up the same claustrophobic, distorted, anxious vibes of the album, and I can understand Thomas’s cries of ‘Revolution’ through the wall of noise. Additionally, his sax returns, and that’s a good thing, as somehow it works with the swirls of distorted, industrial, riff-hypnosis. Let Down has a pretty killer, dare I say, garage rock-style, down-stroke action happening, courtesy of Parkes and Andrews, but again, heard through a wall of distortion, all the while Thomas is either ‘singing’ through said distortion or honking away on his sax, bringing Let Down to a full-on noise cacophony.

My favorite track on the album is the penultimate Watch Them Crawl, featuring an irresistible bass line from Murphy, as both Parkes and Andrew, once done with their guitar squalls and volume swells, join her in a devastating riff that propels Watch Them Crawl to a killer, headbanging, mid-tempo pace. Closer, Digbeth B5 is essentially a noise and effects wall of sound full of dissonant sounds, that reaches an apex and gently fades out with some guitar noises, bringing it all down slowly.

Indoctrination Sounds is a total exercise in distorted, claustrophobic riffs, uneasy, anxious vibes, and industrial noise. I suppose I could compare it, in some ways, to early Godflesh, but way grimier, and Thomas’ sax histrionics make them their own entity entirely. The uneasy vibes and feelings, conjured up across the seven tracks are, from what I understand, somewhat rooted in pandemic isolation, and the upheaval the UK has experienced the last handful of years, and Machiavellian Art have excelled in crafting those feeling to sound. Indoctrination Sounds more than conveys an uneasy, anxious, claustrophobic vibe, that’s hammered home by the band’s dirty, industrial, riff-hypnosis. Recommended. 

Label: Riot Season
Band Links: Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Martin Williams