Music/TV/Movie Reviews

Under the Rose

Self produced by Machina Shogunate
Reviewed by Lori Holuta for Steampunk Magazine

Machina Shogunate has existed since 2007 and are carving their niche through a balance of music and visual performance. Their first EP feels both long overdue and at the same time the work of a band still finding their way. Under the Rose takes us on a journey, one that no doubt speaks of their own experiences while resonating with those of their audiences.

The EP leads off with “Jagged Shadow”. To start on a positive note, I love the chorus, during which V-zhon’s sweet voice delivers disturbing lyrics in a perfect pace, not only to my ears but to my spine, in the form of a chill. However. Beyond the chorus lies the verse. I itch to snip away a word or two far too often. The belaboring of as many haunting words as can be welded together gives the effect of a hurried need to sing fast enough to keep up. I should be feeling the desperation of the pursuit, not thinking about running to catch a bus.

But it is only the beginning of our journey.

“To Kill A Demon” is a confrontation. It begins with a moment of upbeat, slick instrumental, then quickly moves to the message. The ultimatum is delivered firmly, the music and lyrics taking full control of the message. The band has not only caught up with the bus now, it’s going to torch it. We hear a sharper focus of concept now, with dreamlike sounds alternating against the heavier instrumentals. I am pleased at the progression of vocal emotion from “Jagged Shadow”–now V-zhon’s living the words, not just reciting lyrics.

And now we delve into “Sub Rosa”. The vocals are stronger, but in balance, not competing against the music but working with it. The lyrics are a wordsmith’s dream, braiding lush and sometimes beautiful imagery with clarity and an awakening realization of the horrors of reality.

Our journey reaches its peak in “Beauty and Broken.” All components come together effortlessly, and I can’t help but feel we’ve traveled miles from the struggling “Jagged Shadow.” The repeated message of the song is solid under our feet. “Existence is fleeting. Nothing is guaranteed. We live for the moment. Embracing opportunity.”

Machina Shogunate embraces opportunity and isn’t afraid of hard work. They not only write and perform their music, but also do their own producing, promoting and managing. This speaks of a firm belief in their style and message. I will be listening to see where their self-paved road leads.

This review was originally written for and published by Steampunk Magazine. 

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Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields of Mid-Michigan, where she grows vegetables and herbs when she’s not writing, editing, or playing games with a cat named Chives.

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