We recently had a look at Machines Don’t Bleed, the new album from Apexx. He’s a somewhat unknown artist that appeared out of the blue in 2016 with an EP on Fusion. He then had the smashing hit AK-47 the following year. Last year at Qlimax, he was supported by Phuture Noize who played two of his tracks, which generated a lot of buzz. Both of these tracks ended up in this album: Cold Steel and I Go Insane. Fast forward one year, and after a few big performances this summer, Apexx has his album out on the famous Rough Recruits imprint from Roughstate.
Without further ado, let’s check out what’s this album all about!
The album starts with The Resurrection. The stand out thing here is definitely the ear piercing and addicting melody. The kick and bass is punchy and distorted, and pleasing to the ear.
The second track is the title track, Machines Don’t Bleed. It seems that the aim here was to give a mechanical feel to the track, which was well achieved with the addition of the vocals and the slightly high pitched kick. The build up to the second climax has a cinematic feel to it, with the melody being accompanied by what seems a choir in the distance.
We then have I Go Insane, a track that’s rather well known at this point. As the title suggests, this is definitely one of those you want to go insane to in the dancefloor because it just has a really huge energy. The build up with the vocals prepares everyone for what’s coming, and then you just have an epic drop with an amazing melody. The vocals are very well treated, with nice details like the pitching on the second build up. The second climax helps keep things interesting with the melody variation. This is a track that’s quite heavy on details – pitching, kick rolls, distorted bass, you’ll find everything here.
Painkiller is up next, and it is another track that was already known. If you really kept an eye on Hardstyle releases you could hear it in full since the Defqon.1 compilation album’s release. This track invites us to leave everything behind and just be there for the moment. The first anti-climatic part doesn’t prepare you for what’s incoming – the melody that comes after the break and accompanies the climax is just out of this world, there are really no words fit to describe it. I like to describe these strident melodies as ones that “scratch your brains” and this is exactly the case here. Melodies like these are one of the reasons I keep coming back to listen to more and more Hardstyle, amazing job here!
Painkiller is followed by an interlude, called The Cleansing. As far as I can gather, the album from here on just becomes even more wild and heavy, and this is just something to “break it” in half. The first part of the track is focused on the impacting vocals and a piano melody. To finish it off we get treated with a very heavy kick that just makes the track feel like slow, Industrial Hardcore. The kick variation that follows is equally aggressive.
Transistor is the next track. It pretty much starts straight away with some kind of build up and you can immediately see it will be an intense track. We then have a punchy kick in the mid intro that quickly goes into a break. If you were a gamer a few years back, you’ll immediately recognize the vocal sample here. Following it we have a melody that’s very well backed by something I cannot describe entirely, but just fills the atmosphere really well. And then the artist went all out in this climax! This one’s definitely hit home for me, given the huge energy it has and the very meaningful vocal, making it my favorite from the album.
“Rather than offer you the illusion of free choice, I will take the liberty of choosing for you… if and when your time comes round again”
The 7th track is Execute The Plan (climb the mountain). It starts off with vocals that to me, feel a bit weird, given they’re somewhat mechanical, but that do well the job, as if it were a machine talking about a mission that it has to execute. The bass in this track feels “crunchy” and fills the atmosphere without overwhelming it. The melody is a succession of quick notes that further contribute to the feel the vocals gave. Once again, during this climax, the kick rolls and pitched kicks shine trough and make the difference. The kick variations here are great! We also have a “dry” kick and bass combination that helps calm things down after the climax.
We then go off to Hit ‘Em. Not much is to be said about this one, it is very “raw” in its essence, focused on the bare basics – the kick and the bass. Regardless, just like any other track in this album, it is well designed and doesn’t lack small details like well done screeches.
Cold Steel is another track that is already known by fans, and it is an absolute roller coaster – next thing you know after clicking play you’re already full steam ahead through a heavy mid intro. The break has some distinctive vocal samples combined that set the tone and the backing melody in the build up is interesting. We then have the “cold steel!” sample together with a “fake drop” that works really well, and the climax just gets more and more intense as we progress, with the help of some kick pitching.
The Summit finishes off the album and it is your “standard” Frenchcore hit track! This doesn’t mean it’s nothing special, on the contrary, it’s just something not out of the ordinary. Sounds very inspired on the current Frenchcore trend and on sounds from the rising star Sefa. Very solid piece of Hardcore to finish off this amazing album!
Overall this is a very pleasing album. Tracks are extremely energetic and clearly most of them are dancefloor weapons. However there’s no particular flow in it. It appears to simply be a compilation of individual dancefloor bangers. We don’t feel there’s a particular story being told, or that there’s a need to listen to the album in its running order to fully appreciate it. However, each and every track works really, really well on its own.
Another hot topic surrounding this album is Phuture Noize’s participation in it, as he’s been credited on all the tracks and Ross refers to Apexx as “we” in many posts he shares on social media. It appears Marco has taken a more prominent role in these productions than what it seemed at first, and to be fair this does shine through prominently in some tracks, namely in the percussion part, however we’re definitely not complaining here, as it appears Hardstyle has just found another production dreamteam with this partnership. Best way to describe this album in what concerns this partnership would probably be Apexx’s vision with Phuture Noize’s quality standards.
This may also explain why Phuture Noize needed some time out of live performances – it must have not been easy handling his schedule, doing Black Mirror Society (twice!) and assisting Ross with his productions.
- I Go Insane
- The Summit