XM-3a - Bad Robot Man Single Review
This splendidly ridiculous nine minutes of rumbling progressive metal is further evidence that we should all be taking heavy rock music very seriously again, precisely because it's stopped taking itself so seriously. The lyrics to 'Bad Robot Man' are supposedly written from the perspective of a robot warning of a dystopian future, but don't worry: in practice, the only thing you'll remember is the band chanting 'Bad robot man! Bad robot man!/You're a bad robot man!' again and again. XM-3a's tongue is presumably lodged firmly in their pseudo-metallic cheek. It's like Ten Benson never split up.
This playfulness is one feature of the wave of British metal bands recently collected on the New Heavy Sounds Volume 1 compilation. Like Chickenhawk, Kong, and the other bands who kept them company on that record, XM-3a aren't interested in demonstrating that their pain and sadness is more sad and painful than yours: they just want to make great rock music. And 'Bad Robot Man' is evidence that, like most of those other bands, they're very good at doing so. The track has a monumental swagger to it. It tunnels relentlessly into your brain, the churning, roiling guitars and relentless rhythmic crashing and burning physically shaking you. At the same time, the band are clever enough to playfully undermine this swagger and stop things ever getting too one-dimensionally phallic: they introduce odd synth beeps and squelches and, just when you feel there might have been one solo too many, return to the barmy, chanted chorus. If you haven't already got on board the new wave of metal bandwagon, this is as good an entry point as any.