Shihad – ‘Beautiful Machine’ Album Review

April 28, 2008 at 11:17 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )


Shihad – Beautiful Machine


Shihad have gotten a bad rap for along time. Okay so they changed their name to ‘Pacifier’ to try and break into the American market, but at least they never tried to sound American like local rockers ‘Wolfmother’, does the phrase ‘Flavour of the week’ resonate with anybody? 

And anyway, with a name that sounds a lot like ‘jihad’, a name change was inevitable given the fear induced circumstances of the time.  Some would say ‘why try to make it big in America at all’? But once again I point the finger at Wolfmother, didn’t they have the guys from that American show ‘Jackass’ in one of their clips?


Anyway, disillusioned by what they saw in the good old US of A, ‘Pacifier’ changed their name back to ‘Shihad’ and put out a kick ass album, namely ‘Love is the New Hate’.  Now, come 2008, it was time for a new album. 

First of all let me say, I’ve been to a few Shihad gigs in my time, and I’ve always been amazed by how much they rock!  In my opinion there is no one that can hold a torch to John and the boys on a good night, even a bad one.  They’re one of the reasons why people want to be rockstars.

Lately Shihad have been sliding in some songs off the new album into their sets, but as you may well know it’s not always easy to pick whether you like ‘the new stuff’ just from one listen at a show.  I did however instantly notice at the last gig how catchy ‘One will hear the other’ was, and, unsurprisingly, this became the first single off the new album ‘Beautiful Machine’.  This also sets the precedent for the rest of the album, which in opinion is awesome!  


Beautiful Machine is rich in both melody, dynamics and tone.  Upon first listen, the discerning Shihad fan may be taken aback, for this album does indeed sound like nothing Shihad have ever released.  That said, the discerning fan will also know that Shihad change their sound with every album, and this is no exception.  Gone are the heavy guitars, the pounding drums and the belting vocals, instead they’ve been replaced with an upbeat catchiness and simplicity not seen on a Shihad album since the self titled Shihad or ‘fish’ album. 

Yes everything sounds different but believe me this is not a bad thing.  I was quite shocked to hear that there are no jin jins on this album, however, upon further listens I found that the songs had become embedded in my head.  Songs like ‘Eliza’, ‘Beautiful Machine’, ‘Chameleon’ and my personal favourite ‘Hard to Please’, are unbelievably catchy, yet complex in their subtlety.  There are many layers to these songs, each one densely packed with multiple guitars, keys and electronica, and a lot of vocal harmonies.  Even the drums sound different on this album, and that’s a good thing because it suits the music perfectly.


Some fans may be disappointed if they were expecting another ‘Love is the new Hate’ or even ‘Killjoy’, because this album is definitely none of the above.  However I think any loyal fan will love it if they just give it a chance and listen to it a few times.  It pays off after about the second time through, both in sound and in overall quality, which can be heard in every track. 

I would, without a doubt, say that this the best album I have heard in along time and would strongly urge you to spend your $18 on it.  I’m a bit of a cheat actually because I bought it from Itunes NZ, it’s not released here until mid June, and I simply couldn’t wait that long.

And for all you hard core fans out there, don’t worry, this isn’t sign of things to come. I think it’s more a sign of maturity on Shihad ‘s part, the songs sound well worn and weathered, yet beautiful and fresh at the same time.  And anyway, you know they’ll always play the songs they got famous for and rock the living shit out of anywhere they play, they always do.  They make you believe that whatever they’re playing is amazing, and that’s a good thing!



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