The Awesome Machine Post “El Bajo” Video; …It’s Ugly or Nothing Reissue Out Jan. 12

the awesome machine

On Jan. 12, 2024, Sweden’s The Awesome Machine will reissue their 2000 third album, …It’s Ugly or Nothing, through Ripple Music. It is the first installment of a OBI-inclusive vinyl series the label is beginning that’s been dubbed ‘Beneath the Desert Floor,’ and the Californian imprint could hardly have found a more suitable example. The first seven seconds of opening track “Never Said I Never Fail” tell you at least 80 percent of what you ACTUALLY need to know going in: the first introductory snare hit already seems to be running at pace to the next and the guitar and bass join in with an absolutely righteous punch of raw, hard fuzz and thick bass. Plus handclaps!

Another 10 seconds pass and vocalist Lasse Olausson arrives, immediately clenched of gut, pushing lyrics through partially restricted airways in a gruff delivery that was a defining feature of the band who first got together in 1996 and would culminate at the end of their first decade in 2006. Momentum is there. The push is there. The thing has barely started and you’re at full speed, all go, all in, no bullshit. They didn’t call themselves The Awesome Machine for nothing.

During that time, The Awesome MachineOlausson, guitarist Christian Smedström, bassist Anders Wenander and drummer Tobbe Bøvik at the century’s turn — were one of a rising generation of Swedish heavy rockers. Based in Gothenburg, they shared a rehearsal space with Mustasch. They hung out with guys from Tiamat and In Flames, The Crown, and were a part of a national Swedish underground that, while of course led by acts like Dozer, Demon Cleaner and Siena Root, was (and is) an entire ecosystem unto itself.

Bands like Abramis Brama (still going), Firestone (who begat Truckfighters), Astroqueen (now back), the aforementioned Mustasch (still going), Norrsken (who begat Witchcraft and Graveyard) would have been contemporaries as well, perhaps joining The Awesome Machine on stage as they lay out the declarative stomp of “Son of a God” from …It’s Ugly or Nothing, which is one of the album’s several standout hooks and follows “El Bajo” (video premiering below) with its chorus “hey!”s and catchy bounce, completing a salvo course started in “Never Said I Never Fail” that brought cowbell and harmonica on “How Am I to Know” — the spread of self-titled-era Clutch‘s influence isn’t to be discounted — before diving back into the shove.

Which is a big part of what they do — the shove — but not all of it. “Cruise Control” answers the nod of “Son of a God” with four quiet minutes of ambient guitar noodling. The Awesome Machine would grow increasingly atmospheric over their time, culminating in their to-date swansong, 2003’s The Soul of a Thousand Years (discussed here) — during the recording for which Olausson would develop the throat infections that caused him to leave the band — but those impulses were always there and “Cruise Control” is a respite from the physicality of the other material on …It’s Ugly or Nothing, and a preface to 10-minute organ-inclusive closer “No Share,” which let’s assume the awesome machine it's ugly or nothingwasn’t a timely reference to Napster, and which also pulls back on tempo to breathe a bit.

That’s fortunate, because getting there is a chase scene through “Supernova” and the swinging “Looking for Sweet Opium” — that’s the part of the chase where they break through the pane of glass — before the volatile “Out of Fuel” seems to gnash its teeth with tension early and find catharsis in Bøvik‘s later bashing, and the originally-penultimate “Used to Be” drives their energy to a feverish point and lets go into the softer intro contemplation of “No Share,” which if you were a newcomer to the style circa 2000 and happened to pick up this import CD from some Swedish band — maybe on the All That is Heavy store, which is how a lot of these transactions were done at least for me in those days — might just be enough to keep you as a convert.

Its classic-heavy sensibility, poise and engrossing payoff are, and I’m just being honest here, what it’s all about, and in beginning ‘Beneath the Desert Floor’ with The Awesome MachineRipple clearly knows it. They’re not alone, of course. This year and last, Sweden’s Ozium Records released two rare tracks compilations, 2022’s God Damn Rare (discussed here) and 2023’s God Damn Rare Vol. II (discussed here), and in 2022, Daredevil Records hosted a digital reissue for …It’s Ugly or Nothing‘s predecessor, which was 1998’s Doom, Disco, Dope, Death and Love demo (discussed here), originally available only on CDRs and inkjet printer artwork. It’s amazing the things you can be nostalgic for, folks. I wonder if they have any copies left.

The Awesome Machine have long been an example in my mind of a band from the post-Kyuss era, the turn of the century era, who never got their due and whose work is treasure waiting to be discovered by a subsequent generation of riff heads. If you think back to about the time The Awesome Machine were kicking around and labels like Akarma were mining old crates of vinyl to unearth lost classics from the heavy ’70s, from about 2000-2005, the ‘Beneath the Desert Floor’ that launches with this LP (the album’s first vinyl issue) is no different and, I’ll gladly argue, no less crucial in its mission.

Why? Because any story of aesthetic changes over time, and the shape of history bends to the eye of the viewer. Bringing The Awesome Machine — and potentially scores of others like them, from Sweden and beyond — back for another look is a reminder that any narrative thread one puts to the decades of heavy music can only tell a piece of it. Nearly 24 years later, …It’s Ugly or Nothing still encourages its audience to dig deeper.

But whether you take it as an educational exercise or not, whether you immediately go search out The Awesome Machine‘s 1998 self-titled debut, or The Soul of a Thousand Years, or 2002’s Under the Influence after hearing these songs, …It’s Ugly or Nothing is foremost an absolute blast of a heavy rock record, and as a herald of the new oldschool, it’s been gifted with an entirely new resonance.

The video for “El Bajo” is below, followed by some comment from Tobbe Bøvik on the track, and info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

The Awesome Machine, “El Bajo” video

Tobbe Bøvik on “El Bajo”:

El Bajo is one of the eldest compositions by the band, written way back in early 1999. It really defines the sound of The Awesome Machine. With its distorted bass intro, heavy drums, fuzzy guitars and raunchy vocal chorus it really sets the pace of this stoner classic. Accompanied by an action packed desert-car-chase video, it will please any fan of the genre.

THE AWESOME MACHINE “…It’s Ugly Or Nothing” reissue
Out January 12th, 2024 via Ripple Music (vinyl only)

International preorder –

US preorder –

Ripple Music is proud to launch the “Beneath The Desert Floor” series — unearthing long-lost treasures from the early days of stoner rock — and team up with Swedish scene veterans THE AWESOME MACHINE for the reissue of their cornerstone album “…It’s Ugly Or Nothing” this January 2024.

An indestructible mass of fuzz-drenched heft, their 2000 cornerstone album “…It’s Ugly Or Nothing” is eleven tracks of uncompromising stoner rock goodness for the ages. An authentic classic of Swedish-brewed mastery that old and new fans will welcome with open arms and ears in their record collection!

About the “Beneath The Desert Floor” series, Ripple Music founder Todd Severin says: “There were so many amazing albums released in the underground heavy stoner/doom/desert/heavy psych during the late 90’s, early 2000’s that have gotten lost in the passage of time. These albums, from incredible bands, came out in a time before social media was fully formed to help push public awareness before the vinyl resurgence happened so they were never pressed to wax before digital channels existed to spread the music far and wide. My goal is to do our part to change that. To look beneath the desert floor and see what gems and treasures lay there. And spread them with the world.”

The Awesome Machine on It’s Ugly or Nothing:
Lasse Olausson – vocals
Anders Wenander – bass
Christian Smedström – guitar
Tobbe Bøvik – drums

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