Swollen Members – Beautiful Death Machine Review


With Beautiful Death Machine, the Canadian-based hip-hop trio Swollen Members proves they are lyrically armed to the teeth, rebounding from drug addictions, and currently chasing previous success that has led them to platinum and gold.

Between the release of Beautiful Death Machine and one their previous studio albums Dagger Mouth (2011), Madchild (Shane Bunting) publicly admitted to overcoming an addiction to some pretty hard drugs, which initially started around 2006. Throughout this album and much of his solo work you’ll hear references to the drugs he has taken and how he probably shouldn’t be here today, but is thankful for a second chance to be a “little monster” on his tracks. Now he more or less wants his bad path in life to be a lesson to his fans.

Until his last mixtape, Madchild seemed to be lacking the same enthusiasm from earlier albums, which had me worried. He never strayed away from being attached to conveying darker messages, but rather front to back everything came off even more gloomy, hellish, and purely based on an old lifestyle. I feel his ability to write seemed to have taken it’s toll with him becoming sober at first. Starting with mediocre releases such as King of Pain, Banned From America, and slowly improving over the releases of M.A.D.E, and Little Monster. Madchild just didn’t seem like Madchild. But with the recent release of Dope Sick just before Beautiful Death Machine dropped, I considered him finally pushing forward with full force and excelling over a lot of his previous work. You can tell that kicking his addiction has been one hell of a road to travel, but shows to be for the best if he wished to continue to be a sharp hip-hop musician. Mad props.

Swollen has returned to a model with mixed styles similar to their previous album Dagger Mouth but threw in a few new twists. Expect aggressive high-end energy provided by Rob the Viking’s beats coupled with Prevail’s intellectually deep lines meeting some dark and sinister overtones from Madchild. With appearances from other well-known artists such as Apathy, Celph Titled Ill Bill, Saline, and Vinnie Paz the heavy hitters are metaphorically leaking ‘roids out of every orifice and swinging away on a handful of the tracks within Beautiful Death Machine.

But by all means, I wouldn’t consider Beautiful Death Machine exactly Dagger Mouth pt. II verbatim. Innovation and experimentation did occur in the studio to set way to some new approaches instrumentally. Electronic dubstep-ish instrumentals can be heard on Juggernaut, and heavy piano use with more of an early era feel on tracks such as Mercenary provide a fresh new take and a diversion away from what many consider typical Swollen. These new styles should make future releases interesting if they continue to keep and pursue these sounds.

Beautiful Death Machine starts with Inception, where you slowly seem to creep into a dream-like state where you encounter Madchild welcoming you to the “doomsday parade” as well as Prevail reinstating how he’s eating the world up and that you should prepare for what’s to come. He’s not too far off from the truth. This track lays the framework for the rest of the tracks soon to follow with the overall mood and the heavy flow between the Mad and Prevail going back and forth. Right off the bat, you know Swollen means business.

For the rest of the ride through Beautiful Death Machine, expect an array of sounds alongside verses that portray many different meanings. There’s an anthem to the underground Swollen supporters on Bax War, to a more whimsical track with just a positive view on life with The Difference. I wouldn’t consider too much of the album fluff with only one or two tracks being semi-filler like, and the rest fairly Grade A Swollen.

Beautiful Death Machine comes to a halt with Fear. It ties up the album but doesn’t completely knot it. Maybe as if the ride is never supposed to end. It’s practically a lot of cynical laughter plus Snak The Ripper making references to drugs and sex through most of his verse, ironically. The chorus fits the last song on the album, but considerably that’s about it.