The UK underground lost something special with the demise of sludge riffers Taint, but the emergence of Hark, frontman Jimbob Isaac’s next evolutionary step, provided hope. 2014’s Crystalline showcased a turn towards hard rock, while retaining Jimbob’s love of granite-hard riffing.
Machinations expands upon this, bringing underground musical sensibilities into contact with arena-sized ambitions, opener Fortune Favours The Insane melding a wild, classically tinged dual guitar attack with Jimbob’s belligerent vocals and solid grooves. There’s a progressive element, too, Nine Fates opening like something off Crack The Skye: an influence prevalent in the widdly leads and fluctuating riff patterns. Machinations conveys a sense of restlessness, an anxiety to perform multiple tasks that makes it hard to engage with. When they settle into a groove and let it develop organically, as on Transmutation’s provocatively arrogant stomp, Hark’s charisma shines through, but those moments are often lost amidst a maelstrom of styles with little narrative thread to tie them all together.