MAGGOT HEART – Mercy Machine

MAGGOT HEART – Mercy Machine

Maggot Heart’s heart and soul, the proudly female Swedish guitaris and vocalist Linnéa Olsson is a fascinating character. Unashamedly, even militantly feminist, Linnéa once said she’d hand out Maggot Heart switch-blade knives to all women and encourage them to use them so they can all take back every city which she’d claim was rightfully theirs (Interview with Niklas Göransson on from 2017/06/07). Whether or not this is just the effect of watching David Fincher’s "Fight Club" motion picture (admittedly my favorite all time movie) too many times or just a rock’roll talk is anyone’s guess, but, since Linnéa perceives the rock/heavy metal scene as inherently sexist she may be more than bluffing. There is, besides, no shortage of reasons for her anger and disdain with us, men, everywhere, although, she had suffered much from her own sex as well, such as in the once very succesful The Oath (2012-2014) where she reportedly had been ripped off by her former bandmate, Johanna Sadonis who had attempted to ruin Linnéa’s reputation. Thus the first Maggot Heart’s records, the 2017’s "City Girls" EP (2017) and "Dusk To Dusk" LP (2018) dealt with much of the rage and frustration pent up over the years spent in Sonic Ritual, the aforementioned The Oath, Beastmilk or Grave Pleasures in anticipation of bigger and better things on the sequel.

"Mercy Machine" is a very good testament to Linnéa’s creativity, originality and mastery of her guitar where she rivals Martin Lee Gore (Depeche Mode), David Howell "The Edge" Evans (U2) or even James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix in cuts such as "Roses", "Lost Boys" or the opening "Second Class", especially that latter opener strongly recalling U2 covering Robert Allen "Bob Dylan" Zimmerman’s "All Along The Watchtower" on "Rattle And Hum". I definitely, too, hear Nirvana and Toadies’ "Possum Kingdom" in the feminist manifesto "Justine" and Pearl Jam in the punk-ish title track but it’s all so subtle only a trained ear can catch it, which is a testimony to Linnéa’s songwriting prowess: take the old elements and make your very own music with it, unlike the countless talentless dross of the modern pop scene where blatant plagiarism has become art. Next to very catchy melodies and elaborate solos, Linnéa’s cynical yet warm and sensual vocals bring Courtney Michelle "Love" Harrison, needless to say, though, with a much greater class and wit. So far I can say about the hard rock and alternative influence.

Although I would be reluctant to call "Mercy Machine" a metal album, there is some notable metal influence of the "Leviathan" and "Blood Mountain" Mastodon-ian variety as well as Marilyn Manson circa 1996 and "Tears In A Vial" Megadeth in the impressive "Gutter Feeling" and perhaps some Prong worked itself into the title track’s fabric. Favorites include "Roses" – where the phrasing "my dirty myiiind" mimics Offspring’s "Come Out And Play" but probably more and with the same word in Megadeth’s "99 Ways To Die" while the excellent solo is more aggressive than some metal with the songwriting chops rivaling Iron Maiden, and a little less so "Senseless" with simple but very melodic guitarwork.

For all its good qualities, the material can get uneven and self-indulgent bordering on psychedelic, as in the least interesting "High Rise" while the lyrics can vary in degrees of authority and reason, so, while "heavenly bodies thrown out with the trash/and I look through the trash/so many devils on so many shoulders" (Gutter Feeling) shows spiritual maturity, "every woman is a star, even those who go too far far crossing the line" is rebellion for rebellion’s sake and has little potential to conquer the misogyny and sexism so rampant in Europe or North America nowadays. As Linnéa Olsson herself, I tend to be impressed more with reason and wit rather than with "might is right", although, interestingly, she seems to speak from both perspectives on "Mercy Machine".

With their sophomore release Linnéa Olsson, Olivia Airey (bass) and Uno Bruniusson (drums) proved that they have something fairly unique and powerful to offer while appealing to fans of Depeche More or U2 while flirtatious with some top metal representative stylings. Whatever your opinion may be of this German trio or its volatile frontwoman you cannot deny them charm, talent and skill screaming for attention, time and, of course, money (not necessarily in that order) plus Martin "Konie" Ehrencrona’s fantastic production is a cherry on top. Check them out.