Machinae Supremacy is a band from Luleå in Sweden, formed in 2000 by Robert Stjärnström (vocals), Kahl Hellmer (bass) and Jonas Rörling (guitar), which has gathered a large underground following, much of it through their release of material over the internet. They play a form of music which they themselves has dubbed SID Metal, after the SID chip from the Commodore 64.

To promote themselves to the masses, Machinae Supremacy decided to use the internet, and in 2001 they put out several promo tracks. Among the tracks made available for download was a cover version of Chris Hülsbreck's Great Gianna Sisters, which made its way around several C64 remix sites, giving the band an early boost to popularity. Their fame within the remix scene was further cemented by the releases of the Sidologies, collections of covers of several famous retro gaming tunes.

During the next couple of years, Machinae Supremacy released some two dozen songs on their website. Then, in 2004, their first commercially released album, Deus Ex Machinae, hit the shelves of the online shop/record label Music By Design. As with the website releases, everything was recorded and mixed by the band members, in their own home studio, dubbed Blind Dog Studios. The first set of 1000 records sold out quickly, but shortly after a second print became available in 2005, Music By Design went out of business. Machinae Supremacy was already working on their second album, but this left them without a record company. Before the fall of MbD, Machinae Supremacy had also released the soundtrack for the retro sidescroller game Jets'n'Guns by Rake In Grass, for free on their homepage.

It took another year before the band was able to release their second album. In the meantime, five more songs were released on their website, including the long awaited Sidology Part 2 (the two formerly released Sidologies were part 1 and 3 respectively).

Not having been able to secure a new record contract, the band eventually decided to do the work themselves. Setting up a business of their own, Hubnester Industries, they released Redeemer Underground Edition in March 2006 through their own webshop. It had earlier been decided that the album should be made in two versions, the Underground and the Retail editions, the latter having a slightly different tracklist excluding some of the arguably harder to get tracks, and including a song from the webography. With no contract in sight, the release of the Retail Edition seemed bleak.

That was to change. In september the same year, the band announced that they had signed with Spinefarm, and that the Retail Edition was to be released later that year. Supposedly, the band had been approached by the record label, politely saying that they understood that they had something going on for themselves, but that if they were interested, they'd like to sign them. Redeemer Retail Edition was released in November 2006.

Machinae Supremacy is now working on their third studio album, as well as the soundtrack for yet another game, War Angels.

The current lineup consists on Robert Stjärnström on vocals (2000-present),Jonas Rörling as lead guitar (2000-present), Andreas Gerdin as rythm guitar (2006-present) (and keyboard/SIDStation on album recordings, as well as live from 2000-2006), Johan Palovaara on bass (2005-), and Tomas Nielsén on drums (2002-present). Kahl Hellmer left in 2005, due to moving to another part of the country, and the original drummer, Tobbe, in 2002.

Okay, now that all that formal info stuff is over with, I'd like to voice my opinion on the band.

I first heard Machinae Supremacy back in 2002, I think. A friend of mine had downloaded a few songs off of their website, and played them for me. It didn't take long for me to get the music myself, and though those old songs sound crude compared to their later works, they were still jewels.

I followed the workings of the band from that day, and irregularly checked the homepage for new songs. I got everything they made, and I think I must have loved every second of it. By the time the news about the album was released, I was a "productive" member of their message board, and hungrily consumed any new info about such things. I of course got myself a copy of the first edition of Deus Ex Redeemer, and I loved it. I actually have a copy of the second edition as well, because it's mixed differently and I don't want to lose my precious first edition (hey, it might become valuable some day. Only 1000 copies, you see. Not that I'd sell it). That one, and the site releases made in 2004, marked a change in their music, not in style but in quality. The sound was simply better.

Redeemer, however, differed more. In many ways darker, it still sounded distinctively Machinae Supremacy. The album got a lot of great reviews from numerous online publications, which in my opinion were absolutely deserved. It has stayed on my mp3 player (a 512MB USB thingy) since I got the album, which should say something.

Granted, the band does require a bit of getting used to. Roberts vocals are rather special, and not everyone seems to like them. I agree that they would be misplaced in almost all other forms of metal, but with Machinae Supremacy's distinct style, his vocals fit perfectly. I wouldn't have it any other way, and I'm sure that if you give them a chance and make yourself familiar with the voice, you will agree with me.

Because you have to agree with me, or I will send all the polar bears in Norway after you! They're highly trained and very deadly.

Are you speeding along a post-apocalyptic highway in a jeep, spraying gunfire at ferocious mutants and the increasingly antagonistic Australasian military, dodging mines and leaping gorges?

Are you locked in mortal combat with a gigantic salivating red and black sentient cockroach whose diabolical, aeons-old plans call for the invasion and subjugation of nothing less than our entire home universe?

Are you flying a pathetically tiny experimental scout ship with no significant shields or weaponry in a bitter, no-holds-barred shooting match with the massed forces and seemingly limitless rocket emplacements of the feared Warmageddon device, as it plunges past the Lunar Defence Halo, hell-bent on triggering a new Big Bang at ground zero, London, Earth?

Machinae Supremacy provide an appropriate soundtrack to all these activities.

MS's music is loud, pacy, enthusiastic, crowded, partially synthesised rock - "SID metal", in their words. It soars and stuns and explodes. Sure, there is the occasional lacklustre melody and their vocalist is too gravelly, but half of their work is instrumental and most of it is freely available to download online, so who cares when the standard is this good?

This is videogame music. This is music inspired by videogames and videogame music, created by videogame lovers using videogame-based technology, for other videogamers to listen to whilst videogaming. Some of it is covers of the theme tunes from The Great Gianna Sisters or Metroid or F-Zero, some of it is wholly original content. But all of it rocks and is noisy and great.

Machinae Supremacy is music to save the world by.

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