The Suicide Machines - A Match and Some Gasoline (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Suicide Machines

A Match and Some Gasoline (2003)


After a few shaky years of break-up rumors, the loss of a key member and a string of poorly supported albums, the Suicide Machines revisit their glory days with "A Match and Some Gasoline." This is an album that amounts to a love letter to the band's fans. Despite the political lyrics and screams of protest, these are tracks written to reflect playlist favorites that have devotees singing every word and dancing wildly in the crowd. To anyone who stuck by the band through the radio pop of "The Suicide Machines" and the barely promoted "Steal This Record," I can't imagine you not being absolutely enthralled by this return to form.

While many turned their back on the band's self-titled album, it (and its follow-up) displayed a lot of songwriting growth. The Detroit four piece has taken these strengths and applied them to the ska, punk and hardcore of this record. So while "A Match and Some Gasoline" may mirror the style and dynamics of 1998's "Battle Hymns," it's songs are far stronger and better executed. This is especially obvious on the punk / hardcore tracks, which have grown in style to rival those of the band's contemporaries in The Explosion or The Bronx. On one hand the Suicide Machines bleed with the influence of the 80s hardcore scene with "Beat My Head Against The Wall" and "Invisible Government." Tracks of this cloth are coupled with very modern sounding anthems like the powerful "Your Silence." While not breaking much new ground with their return to 3rd wave ska, I doubt any longtime fan didn't fall instantly in love with "High Anxiety" and "Did You Ever Get A Feeling Of Dread?" Throwing further diversity into the album, the band toasts their hometown in the appropriately rock'n'roll sing-along "Seized Up." Even the acoustic hidden track shows a different facet of the band's sound.

I'm obviously very happy with this disc, so I'm being kinder than someone who isn't an admitted fan. If there is any weakness here, it's that the album seems to run a bit short. On one hand it's quite finely tuned and free of unnecessary filler, but on the first few spins it seems to fly by. Song-wise there's lots of great material here, I could of course complain that "Politics of Humanity" sounds awfully similar to "The Killing Blow," but after such a strong showing it's an afterthought.

While they're technically retreading on territory they covered back in 1998, the band never sounds uninspired. Both the production and the enthusiasm shown here simply crackle with energy. Bands are typically loathe to go back to recording in their old style, but the Suicide Machines have seized the opportunity to write a ska / punk album with more skill and passion than we've seen in the past few years.