Three years ago we praised a debut called Rubidium from the young UK act Maschine, and were pretty certain that it would be the launching pad for a band that were going to do great things in the years ahead. Well, their sophomore release for InsideOut is finally here, and it's safe to say that Naturalis lives up to all the promise heard on their debut. Comprised of Luke Machin (Guitars/Vocals), Daniel Mashal (Bass/Vocals), Marie-Eve de Gaultier (Keyboards/Vocals), Elliott Fuller (Guitars), and James Stewart (Drums), Maschine play a quirky brand of prog with elements of metal and jazz-fusion, long on soaring melodies as well as intricate arrangements. Having three vocalists also adds a powerful element to their sound, the multi-layered approach working wonders as the vocals weave and float around some serious musical tapestries across the albums six new compositions.
As was the case on their debut, the band have a style that draws a bit from the Pain of Salvation playbook, though they've definitely matured here and incorporated more of their own identity. Marie-Eve's lead vocals are simply gorgeous on the lush prog/pop track "Make Believe", while all three vocalists share the spotlight on the killer 1-2 punch of album openers "Resistance" and "Night and Day", complete with some wild guitar & keyboard exchanges that recall Dream Theater as well as Frank Zappa. "Hidden in Plain Sight" is an upbeat affair with memorable pop hooks and light, almost jazzy instrumentation, which the band again falls back on with "A New Reality", featuring some tasty guitar solos and layers of vocal harmonies. The epic "Megacyma" provides Naturalis' with its heaviest moments, as chugging, metallic riffing complements more of those gorgeous vocal melodies, spacey keys, acrobatic rhythms, and blazing lead guitar work. To top it all off, the band even throw in two live tracks, stellar versions of "Eyes Part 2" and "Rubidium", both songs from their debut, here revealed as further proof of just how formidable an act Maschine really are.
Having your home on a roster that also includes Kansas, Fates Warning, Haken, Devin Townsend, Riverside, Transatlantic, and Ayreon, among many others, surely must be intimidating, but Maschine have shown here with Naturalis that they deserve to play amongst the big boys. Well done!
2) Night and Day
3) Make Believe
4) Hidden in Plain Sight
5) A New Reality
7) Eyes Part 2 (Live in Veruno)
8) Rubidium (Live in Veruno)