Anyone else love the Forza Horizon games? They're great. Full of beautiful settings, excellent gameplay and enough content to last you at least a year, they're fantastic driving games that obviously put an emphasis on fun - something not enough games do in the modern age.
They also have another standout trait - their soundtracks. Every game has multiple "radio stations" to choose from, with various stations focussing on pop, rock, drum & bass and even classical. My favourite station, though, is Hospital Records. This station plays songs exclusively from the Hospital label, and they've got a damn good ear for electronic music talent because it's the best radio on the games.
Metrik is one of these talents. He's been om every Hospital soundtrack in the games and he's one of their biggest names. Since 2007, his stock has been constantly on the rise and on Friday he released his latest album Ex Machina, which showcases Metrik at his brilliant best. Catchy hooks, melodic tunes and clever production tricks all make this album one of the best electronic releases of the year thus far.
Opener 'Automata' sets the scene nicely. It's not the biggest track on here, it doesn't hit the hardest and it's not the catchiest. What it is, however, is very good. Quite laid back, it gets you in the mood for an hour of Metrik's music - it's a warm-up track and it's executed to perfection.
'Parallel', a collaboration with fellow Hospital employee Grafix is the most mainstream track on here and is a proper earworm. Of all the album's songs, this is the one most likely to be rattling around your heard for days to come. Having said that, it's certainly not the only song of this ilk, as 'We Are The Enemy, 'Gravity and 'TIme To Let Go' all sing from very similar hymn sheets. These more vocal songs are dotted throughout and give the album some consistency, though it's hard not to notice that the formula for each one is basically the same.
But that's okay, because the album isn't without it's variety. Third song 'Closer' is the first of the more aggressive tracks; if you're looking for something a bit harder, a bit faster, a bit angrier, this is where you want to start. Full of pumping bass and dirty synths, it's far more exciting than the tamer openers. Being tame isn't a bad thing; Simon and Garfunkel are tame. But if you're looking for a lion rather than a house cat, 'Closer' is where to begin.
It's not where you need to end though. 'Hackers' is hard, though also a little dull. Skip that and go to the stupendously-tited 'Thunderblade', which sounds more like it should be the next range of Gilette razors than anything. 'Thunderblade' is fantastic, a combination of Metrik's melodic talents and his aggressive side. But it's not quite the highlight.
This is primarily because the title track, 'Ex Machina', is truly sublime. Fast, hard, heavy, this is the album's peak moment. The BWOOOAAAHHH at 1:05 is so satisfying, and it's then followed by a bunch of sound effects straight out of Transformers. It's a stonking and rip-roaring tune; give it some Drop A guitars and it wouldn't sound massively out of place in a DOOM game.
The rest of the songs we haven't mentioned are very good, but also clearly album tracks. That said, the quality is consistent throughout and apart from 'Hackers', there isn't really a dull moment to be found.
Ex Machina is a huge album. It's right up there with Metrik's best work and offers something different to listeners across the world; I'm glad this was on the front page of Spotify's 'new releases' section. If you want some fresh tunes for your quarantine bedroom raves, look no further, as Metrik has delivered a selection of top class tunes for your playlists. It's an excellent piece of work, and I now sit here hoping some of these are on the inevitable Forza Horizon 5, which, if Playground Games keep to their schedule, should be out this year (likely as a Series X launch title). Hell yes.