The art for Mechina’s latest, Siege.

Progressive symphonic metal group Mechina are based in Chicago’s western suburbs, but I wouldn’t blame you if their inhumanly technical sci-fi sound convinced you they weren’t from Earth. For nearly 15 years, with album after album and single after single, Mechina have built an intergalactic narrative so complex that their most devoted fans can’t follow it—even the person diligently assembling a Fandom wiki explaining Mechina’s evolving chronicle admits that the task is beyond them. “I will be wrong about some things,” they write, “and there are gaps in the story which I don’t understand.” In a 2019 interview with Chicagoland podcast The Metal Experience, guitarist and programmer Joe Tiberi says the futuristic tale begins with a world-eviscerating war that pits religion against civilization-building forces, and grows to incorporate a theory about universe simulations.

For those new to Mechina, the new Siege is a great place to jump in: the album offers a singular, detailed vision so immersive that lyrical context feels supplementary. Mechina labor meticulously over every note in their vast, cinematic sound, no matter how fleeting—according to that same Metal Experience interview, it took them an entire year to program the computerized orchestration for 2013’s Empyrean. Singers Mel Rose and David Holch deliver pristine duets over an onrushing matrix of rapid-fire double kick drum, brawny palm-muted riffs, and slaloming strings, and the band’s unearthly blend of ultraclean, perfectionist djent and synthetic symphonic library music telegraphs their sci-fi obsessions as surely as the hypersaturated digital artwork on their album covers. Mechina’s exacting grandiloquence feels ready-made for a blockbuster video game—if they ever tire of telling this career-length story, maybe that’s the next creative frontier for them to explore.   v