Back in 2020, writing that phrase is mind-numbing, when my shop was closed due to the covid-19 pandemic, when not looking after my kids or cursing at the orange man on the television, I spent a lot of time chasing down bands and music that had eluded me, or that I hadn’t got around to listening to yet.
One of the bands that I unintentionally stumbled upon while weeding through my queue, aided by a video on social media, was Tel Aviv, Israel’s The Great Machine. The video, shot in a sweaty practice space, shows the power trio absolutely rip through a set of songs, that, in the end, had me picking my jaw off the floor. Before long, I’d jumped on their Bandcamp page, and dove headfirst into their last three releases, becoming an instant fan of this heavy, quirky band on the other side of the world.
Led by brothers Aviran Haviv on bass and vocals, and Omer Haviv on guitar and vocals along with drummer Michael Izaky proffer sonics that are hard to define. They’re heavy, and eccentric. They’re odd, playing around in many styles, some stoner rock, some noise-rock, a little grunge, a little hardcore, as well as a drop of garage rock here, and a pinch of heavy psych there. I’d recently spun their 2017 LP Love while working and found myself wondering if a new record was on the horizon. Lo and behold Funrider, which initially slipped right by me, has been unleashed upon the world, and it is a ‘fun ride’ indeed.
Showing all the band has to offer over the course of ten songs, Funrider is blown wide open with the charging riff, pummeling rhythms and unconventional, barked vocals of opener Zarathustra, wherein all three members instantly display the heaviness, and weirdness this band is known for. The kooky, hysterical vocals from, I’m guessing Aviran, are in lockstep with his brother Omer’s irregular, fast-and-heavy riffing, and Izaky’s bash and crash drumming. The chugging riff of Hell & Back and burly vocals belie the fact that the track is catchy as ‘hell’, and features some well-timed rhythmic accents that keep it barreling along.
Some of the bizarre aspects of The Great Machine show up with the off-the-wall vocal stylings, and freaky, garage-ish weirdness of Day Of The Living Dead, which features some stellar, tripped-out lead work. The driving title track, Funrider is, well, fun, as the bass and drums are the anchors of this down-the-highway jam, which allows plenty of space to lay down some awesome, yet unconventional guitar histrionics. Elsewhere, Pocketknife is an oddball slow-burn that incorporates elements of noise-rock and some almost ‘90s indie-strumming offset by the weirdo spoken/shouted vocals and the crash-and-ride bashing and odd-time signatures of the drums.
effortlessly able to conjure, wacky, off-the-wall, heavy rock, that incorporates many different styles into their own sonic stew…
The amazingly titled Fornication Under Consent Of The King starts as an acoustic strummer that unfolds into a noisy, pummeling, hardcore rager and back again, that’s complete with barks of ‘fuck the society, fuck the law’ and some serious guitar shred. The riff-y, garage rock stomp meets the soaring, melodic vocals of Notorious is a nicely sequenced palette cleanser, while the acoustic strumming and anguished, frenzied vocals of Mountain She underscores The Great Machine’s peculiar sense of songcraft.
The penultimate Some Things Are Bound To Fail seems to borrow as much from Sonic Youth and ‘90s noise and alternative rock, as it does anything that can even remotely be considered stoner. It’s certainly an album highlight, and most definitely one of the more unconventional, all-over-the-place songs on an album full of them. Closer The Die sees The Great Machine revisiting some of the guitar chug and driving rhythms displayed throughout Funrider, complete with harmonized, shouted, yet melodic vocals from both Haviv brothers, and Izaky’s funky, yet heavy drumming, as they unleash a crushing torrent of hammering riffs and rhythms to carry the album to its end.
In the few years I’ve been a fan, I’ve often wondered if their aural eccentrics and frankly weirdness, can be attributed to being from Israel, as, unless I’m missing something, Israel isn’t exactly brimming with heavy underground rock bands. And, if this is the case, then the band, while I’m sure being influenced by American and European records, are geographically isolated enough that they simply evolved as they are, without the influence of being in a country that has a ton of music like this.
Maybe I’m overthinking it as these three guys are just talented as fuck and are effortlessly able to conjure, wacky, off-the-wall, heavy rock, that incorporates many different styles into their own sonic stew. Whatever the case may be, Funrider is an excellent release, and The Great Machine are certainly one of the more unique bands playing heavy music that the world has to offer.
Scribed by: Martin Williams