Thursday 25 June 2015

Trapped Within Burning Machinery - The Filth Element (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: July 21st 2015
Label: Midnite Collective / Black Voodoo Records

The Filth Element - Track Listing:

2.Korben Dallas
3.Diva Plavalaguna
4.Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg
5.Mr. Shadow
6.The Divine Light

Band Members

Zak Esparza - Guitar/Vocals
Geoff Jones - Drums
Ernie Ballerz - Bass
Rob Trujillo - Guitar


Trapped Within Burning Machinery began as a one-man sludge project in 2007 when Zak Esparza (lead guitar/vocalist) needed an extended outlet for the ideas and riffs plaguing his consciousness. After recording a few demos, Zak recruited close friend Geoff Jones to play drums and Juan Rodriguez to fill in on bass. The trio wrote and recorded their raw, powerful first demo, Evolutionary Transmitted Disease, and self-released it in the summer of 2009. In January 2011, the band entered the studio to record their first full-length album, The Putrid Stench of Decaying Self, this time with new bassist Ernie Ballerz and second guitarist Robert Trujillo. TWBM then released the album through Black Voodoo Records on October 5th, 2012. In early 2014, the band released a limited split tape with Long Beach's bass-and-drums sludge duo Pigeonwing.

After a period of extreme discontent with life in general during the Putrid Stench Of Decaying Self-era, TWBM wanted to continue with the same kind of dark subject matter but from shifting perspectives. So, with the addition of a third guitarist, James Inglett, they began writing music and thinking of lyric ideas. One day, guitarist Robert Trujillo got inspired and blurted out something involving "the blue lady from The Fifth Element.” They had all been huge fans of the movie, and after pondering on it, became obsessed with the idea of riffing off of themes from the movie. 

One song about the Diva Plavalaguna turned into an hour long, doom metal space opera and they submerged themselves into it. Using the characters in the story as hosts, they found that they could write from many different angles and bounce around stylistically without straying from the core sound of the band. The idea of an ancient being traveling to future Earth in hopes of saving it from the epitome of evil really spoke to them, because, as said by Zak Esparza, “We're fuckin’ nerds and the lessons of love and compassion in the story really round out the negativity we usually spew in our music.” They got to write songs from the perspectives of characters that don't have much too back story in this two-hour film, so it gave them some breathing room to do their own thing without being confined to some strict canon or lore.

Ultimately, the marriage of sludge and lore comes together to create The Filth Element, a more hopeful-sounding record than ever recorded before by TWBM, though the sludge is very much alive and well—and the dark places are never far from the theme at hand


This is the 2nd full length from a band of tarpit workers who excel in doom & sludge and live up to their brutal name. The album is based on "The Fifth Element" which is a science fiction tale about a supreme being who saves the earth with the help of an unlikely earthling. Each song on the album is dedicated to some of the characters (as well as entities:"Mr.Shadow"-the grand evil destroyer who grows in size when absorbing negative energy and "The Divine Light"-the combined power of the elements to eradicate the ultimate evil. This is where the similarity ends between them. The movie is colorful and entertaining with a cast of characters all involved in the destruction or deliverance of mankind. The album and it's songs are dirty and filthy, unlike the vibrant futuristic cast costumes and vivid fanfare associated with the movie.

This is a rewarding sonic experience that will at times paralyze in order to prepare transport, not unlike a cryogenic coma during flight to another dimension. You will hear grand riffs, shrieking feedback & goblin roars. You will hear subdued instrument work, earth tones and human pleads. You will hear plucking, shimmering, growling, pulsating, droning & pounding throughout this doom metal saga.

All these different sounds culminate in telling a story based on the universe being saved by an alien love. The science fiction epics of The Fifth Element, Alien and Blade Runner all share similar subject matter dealing with the destruction of mankind through mankind and the search for love, but the music on this album reminds me more of the bleak, technical, wet, slimy machine-Gigeresque landscape associated with Alien or Blade Runner.

This is headphone music. This is a constant storm with periods of tumultuous wind, lightning flash, and thunder claps mixed with quiet rainfall and rustling leaves all wrapped in sporadic heavy fog or mist.This is a special gift...a dark prophecy wrapped in a Harkonnen steam bath. According to the story, the "grand evil" only comes around every 5,000 years...I hope we don't have to wait that long for another old, yet futuristic, adaptation concept experience and fantastic human survival album masterpiece. I can't wait to get my hands on the double gatefold LP. Be thankful that music like this is being made again.

Words by Nick Palmisano

Thanks To Cat Jones at Southern Cross PR for promo. The Filth Element will be available to buy from Midnite Collective / Black Voodoo Records on DD/Vinyl from 21st July 2015.

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