The cover of the Mechina album Siege Credit: Courtesy the artist

In a world where doorstop science-fiction and fantasy novels have become gold mines for networks and nearly every comic book aspires to be a movie treatment, it’s such a delight to come across genre work that has zero interest in becoming anyone else’s intellectual property. Batavia trio Mechina have been reliably putting out entries in their vast “As Embers Turn to Dust” saga for more than a decade at this point, creating a sprawling but wonderfully dense story, the stuff of fan theories and wiki wormholes.

Regardless of your lust for lore, Mechina have undeniable chops—in a banner year for the oft-forgotten genre of power metal, Siege stands easily with the best the band’s contemporaries have to offer. Marrying industrial crunch with symphonic grandeur, Mechina have mastered the art of making long, complicated songs breeze by. They effortlessly build on a foundation of death metal and djent to craft ethereal Cynic-inspired triumphs anchored by the soaring voices of Mel Rose and David Holch. Siege’s title track (with guest vocals from Conflict’s Anna Hel) displays the band at their most apocalyptic—clean singing battles with guttural howls as the song lurches gracefully from breakdown to breakdown. It’s the story of a massive war machine grinding to life, but it ends with unsettlingly quiet vocals in wordless, celestial flights—the calm after (and before) the storm. As entry points to staggeringly complex epics go, you could do worse than this stunning example of Mechina’s skill. And for those who’d prefer to start somewhere else, they’ve already released another album: Venator came out in January 2022.

Mechina’s Siege is also available in an instrumental version and in a “core” version, which strips down its arrangements to the basic guitar and drum tracks.

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