THE END MACHINE
Released on April 9, 2021 (Frontiers Music Srl)
On paper, The End Machine have all the necessary ingredients to come up with a killer album. You have the successful writing tandem of former Dokken bandmates George Lynch and Jeff Pilson. You have Lynch‘s at times jaw dropping guitar virtuosity. You have a singer in Robert Mason that has been able to arguably fill some big shoes along the way including those of deceased Warrant frontman Jani Lane. You have a “hungry” drummer in Steve Brown who likely wants to make his mark after being picked to be the successor to his now retired brother “Wild” Mick Brown. You also have some solid history between some of The End Machine bandmates with Lynch and Pilson having been part of those classic Dokken albums together, and Lynch and Mason combining forces on and off in Lynch Mob. Yes, there is no doubt that The End Machine have all the necessary ingredients to come with a killer record.
Unfortunately, while the group’s sophomore album is better than its self-titled debut record, it still does not meet expectations — or at least my expectations — of what such a formidable cast should have come up with. If anything, Phase2 is likely what you would likely get if Lynch, Pilson and the retired Brown brother reunited with Don Dokken for one more Dokken record. this is because Lynch and Pilson came up with all the music for The End Machine‘s sophomore album, and since I believe that Lynch / Pilson made a conscious effort to come up with more hooks and melodies than on the debut record or at least rekindle their old writing styles. While I think that Don Dokken is a superior songwriter to Mason, there is no question that Mason is a far superior singer to Don Dokken at this point in time. Accordingly, although the songs on The End Machine‘s album Phase2 could likely have been a bit better if Don Dokken had contributed to writing them, Mason certainly delivers a better vocal performance on the songs than Don Dokken ever could at this point.
There are quite a few songs on Phase2 that sound a lot like Dokken including “Prison Or Paradise” and “Plastic Heroes.” That of course is not surprising given the Lynch / Pilson music writing duo. Lynch is given free reign to shine with some extended guitar solos on tracks such as “Blood And Money” and “Crack The Sky.” There are some cool singalong moments such as during the chorus section of “We Walk Alone.” Overall, Phase2 is a solid album with tracks showcasing some good melodies but mostly in the mid-tempo range. While Dokken excelled with the mid-tempo tracks, I find that The End Machine are good at it but don’t excel in that department. Listening to Phase2 reminds me of listening to the albums generated by Dokken since after 1999’s Erase The Slate. The albums are enjoyable to listen to but nothing really stands out to make me want to seek those albums out to listen to them.
Unfortunately for The End Machine, Phase2 was released in the midst of the Covid pandemic and as a Frontiers Records release, it suffers from a lack of sustained marketing behind it after a few weeks from its release. It is not like The End Machine band members would have done a lot of touring behind the record in any case since Pilson is very busy touring (when touring is allowed) with Foreigner, Lynch has a gazillion projects all seemingly going on at the same time, and Mason‘s primary gig is of course with Warrant. Nevertheless, I find that Phase2 could have used a bigger push and more than six months after its release, you really don’t hear anything about this album. It is a shame because there are some enjoyable tunes on Phase2. It is definitely not the best record that any of these guys have come up with (aside from perhaps Steve Brown) but it’s definitely worth checking out.
01. The Rising
02. Blood And Money
03. We Walk Alone
04. Dark Divide
05. Crack The Sky
06. Prison Or Paradise
07. Plastic Heroes
09. Shine Your Light
10. Devil’s Playground
11. Born of Fire
George Lynch – guitar
Jeff Pilson – bass, keyboards, background vocals
Steve Brown – drums, background vocals
Robert Mason – lead and background vocals
Produced and engineered by Jeff Pilson
Engineer consultant: Bob Daspit
Additional engineering by Olivia Pilson
Mixed and mastered by Alessandro Del Vecchio
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, November 2021
The End Machine‘s “Blood And Money” video:
The End Machine‘s “Crack The Sky” video:
The End Machine‘s “Dark Divide” video: