Goodbye to the Machine
Release Date: April 7, 2009
Record Label: Amusement Recordings
Over the past year, Hurt faced some of their biggest challenges. The respective exits of two band members and being dropped from their label would have caused many bands to fold. Instead, J. Loren (vocals, guitar, violin) and Paul Spatola (guitar, piano), together with new members Rek Mohr (bass) and Louie Sciancalepore (drums) are kicking down any obstacles that may have been laid out before them.
For this album’s recording process, Hurt took a step back in time by embracing legacy recording methodology. They used analog equipment and recorded to tape… the way it used to be done before digital recording technology blossomed in the 1990’s. Hurt proved their mettle by conquering what is now considered a laborious process, and the result is crystal clear. This album’s sound has a richness sorely lacking in much of today’s rock music. Audiophiles will be happy to note that this album may also be released on vinyl.
One thing I learned by listening to Vol. II is that you can’t expect Hurt to ever get comfortable with what they’re doing. They’re always pushing the envelope by creating music that is never stale. But even having an open mind to the possibilities still allows for surprise and awe. Goodbye to the Machine has a broad diversity of sound textures. You can hear echoes of bands like Queens of the Stone Age, King’s X, Seether, Radiohead, and John Mayer.
The real surprise for me is how they overcame the difficulty of making a cohesive album out of a varied mix of styles. The album flows well and never sounds disjointed.
As with their previous works, the themes covered on this album primarily focus on the struggle with the human condition. Even the politically charged “Wars” is actually more about the ideology of armed conflict. J. Loren also continues to draw from personal experiences, as in the song “1331,” a touching tribute to Loren’s mentor and friend Thomas (Tommi) Reynolds who passed away in 2006, shortly before the release of Vol. 1.
The control and phrasing of J. Loren’s vocals have never sounded better. The production team also really nailed it. His already dynamic performance has been augmented by further explorations in style. Loren tackles his first stunning duet on “World Ain’t Right” which features Seether’s Shaun Morgan.
The violin is an important element throughout the album, playing the perfect compliment on tracks like “Wars” and “World Ain’t Right” and taking on a prominent role in “Pandora” and “Fighting Tao.”
Guitarist Paul Spatola leaves his mark on this album with some really impressive, but never overbearing finger work. I replayed the end of “Well” several times while thinking “holy crap, where did that lick come from?” Spatola also provides some moving piano work throughout the album, and can be best heard with the violin on “Pandora.”
Rek Mohr is an awesome fit as bass player. From the aggressive and gritty opening of “Pandora” to the smooth runs in “That (Such A Thing)”, he shows just how well he can contribute to dynamics of Hurt’s music. Drummer Louie Sciancalepore may have had the biggest challenge of all, being called upon with short notice to record with the band. Together with Rek they quickly formed a tight rhythm section able to handle all the twists and turns of this album, including complex time signatures as heard in the song “Role Martyr X.”
Like Vol. II, Goodbye to the Machine closes with a bit of a twist. But instead of an expression of gratitude we are presented with a tongue-in-cheek (but strikingly honest) cross between an Irish drinking song and Mothy Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” (sort of).
This is Hurt’s most diverse album to date. Each song is unique. Each composition exposes another part of the band’s character, and till the very last note on the album, you just don’t know what to expect. Putting aside my clinical assessment of album, here is the bottom line; it’s been years since I’ve heard a rock album that sounds this good. J. Loren said “It’s going to be different than anything we’ve ever done.” I can assure you that change is good. Instead of writing the next chapter of the story, they wrote a new book.
- “Got Jealous”
- “World Ain’t Right”
- “Sweet Delilah”
- “Role Martyr X”
- “Dreams Away”
- “Fighting Tao”
- “That (Such A Thing)”