Steve'n'Seagulls - Farm Machine
Spinefarm Records
Country/Bluegrass/Folk covers of Metal/Rock hits
13 songs ()
Release year: 2015
Spinefarm Records
Reviewed by Alex

You can probably judge by the string of my recent reviews that I am on a “strange” kick, covering bands and albums which are only loosely connected to proper metal. It isn’t, however, that I am bored with the vestiges of more straightforward metal genres, the recent run being merely a coincidence.

Finnish Steve’n’Seagulls then certainly belong to the category of “why does this even make an appearance on MetalReviews”. The band plays country/bluegrass/folk, so what’s the connection? The Finns are signed on Spinefarm, and that is as metal as it gets, and, despite their hillbilly image and style, Farm Machine is an album of covers of some of the most famous metal/hard rock classics. So, does Steve’n’Seagulls belong here? My job is to describe Farm Machine, yours then is to provide the answer to the question.

I have been on a long running record saying how much I can’t stand country. Living in the parts of the United States, which, while not being a country capital, is still very fond of it, I sometimes have hard times digesting what plays over the radio. Due to the nature of my work a few years ago we had to conduct a project at a local company specializing in furniture making. That project called sometimes to spend a day at the factory, where, to entertain the locals, country station was playing hours on end. Trying to ignore it wasn’t always easy, “My Tractor’s Sexy” being the ultimate nail in the coffin. (My colleagues even recorded that song for me as a New Year’s present CDR to rub it in further). So, one would think, Steve’n’Seagulls laying country as the foundation for their music, I would plain hate it. Approaching it with the open mind, and obviously recognizing and enjoying the originals, I can admit that Farm Machine is not a total joke and is not without its redeemable quality moments.

It is pretty obvious that Steve’n’Seagulls are going to stick to their vision and understanding of how to interpret an iconic original. That is certainly to be lauded, but to me, ultimately, it came down whether I could accept their vision for a certain song, or not. What I also learned in the process is some of the metal/rock all-time hits are quite suitable for country interpretation, while with others you just can’t fit a square peg into a round hole. Turns out that Paradise City (Guns’n’Roses) is tailor made for a bluegrass festival, You Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC) motors along, just like the original, and the jerky rhythm of the everlasting Black Dog (Led Zeppelin) riff can be very well accentuated using Steve’n’Seagulls rhythm section. Mandolin picking is good substitute for the every sports arena favorite Thunderstuck, and Iron Maiden gallop works very well in The Trooper, although it is a little too laid back in Run to the Hills.

The lack of intensity throughout and especially in the vocal department, and production being downright not heavy at all are my major sticking points with Farm Machine. While bass snaps through in Black Dog, the drums are not emphasized at all, and it is the lack of the signature rolling double bass which makes the Celtic wonder Over the Hills and Far Away (by Gary Moore) less of a hit. Where the original had more passion and intensity in it is where Steve’n’Seagulls vision is the furthest away from the interpretation I can accept. Quirky mandolin raising it a little bit, Seek and Destroy makes mockery out of Metallica thrash. Bass and acoustic guitar interplay are very cool in another Metallica hit Nothing Else Matters, but the light chug for riffing turns it into a headscratcher, while accordion solo makes it sound like an interesting French chanson. The same approach makes power ballad Cemetery Gates (Pantera) almost grotesque (not a bad thing), but the biggest atrocity is committed on Holy Diver. You just can’t take Holy Diver and convert it in a stroll in the park lullaby. Dio memory deserves better. Perhaps it is on Nothing Else Matters and Holy Diver where too soft of a vocal approach stands out the most, especially when Rammstein hit Ich Will shows that Steve’n’Seagulls can provide a darker angle.

As you can see I have followed Metallica’s advice and “opened mind for a different view” towards Farm Machine, and hope you find my look at it objective. The very minimum, if that country radio station played Farm Machine covers during my visits to the not to be named factory, those trips would surely be more enjoyable. Not to mention they would introduce local rednecks to some quality music. Farm Machine is to be taken in a relaxed state, on a sunny day, when all your work is done, with a good swig of alcohol.

Killing Songs :
You should be able to enjoy them all, once you accept the vision
Alex quoted 77 / 100
Other albums by Steve'n'Seagulls that we have reviewed:
Steve'n'Seagulls - Brothers in Farms reviewed by Alex and quoted 65 / 100
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