Monday, February 26, 2024

Gold Key brings their Midas touch to bewitching new album ‘Panic Machine’

When Watford-based rock quartet Gold Key released their second album, Panic Machine, they did far more than simply add to their discography – they gifted the world a beguiling, rich tapestry of sound that strikes a perfect chord with contemporary global conditions. Coincidentally recorded while isolating themselves in a cottage in Wales, Gold Key released Panic Machine during a moment in human history wherein the themes presented on the album – the difficulty of introspection, madness, longing, and far more – hold a particularly powerful degree of resonance.

While Panic Machine would have undeniably packed a punch regardless of when it was released (this is down to Gold Key’s enduring talent for making each and every track uphold a perfect dichotomy between lyrical rawness and a grandeur score; there’s much more on that to come), its timing makes it a beautiful catharsis in addition to a thoroughly enjoyable listen. After all, it is absolutely no secret that our current circumstance has been emotionally difficult for all of us in some way. However, Panic Machine serves as a helping hand reaching out to us in the darkness – one that reminds us that it’s okay to be feeling out of sorts.

As alluded to earlier, each and every track on Panic Machine is an encompassment of Gold Key’s long proven ability to create lavish, goliathan soundscapes and pair them with engaging and thoughtful lyrics. ‘Don’t Sleep’ is a deliciously dark jaunt that sends electricity coursing through the veins for the entirety of its duration. It serves as a flawless microcosm of the degree of pure power that Steve Sears, Laurent Barnard, James Leach, and Jack Kenny are capable of creating together. The track also acts as a particularly wonderful showcase for Sears’ vocal range, as he seamlessly transitions from a robust belt to a gossamer-like falsetto throughout. Complete with imagery-based lyrics that strike a bullseye in the epicenter of  mania, ‘Don’t Sleep’ has the feeling of controlled chaos that’s teetering on the precipice of explosion. This, of course, makes for a completely spellbinding listening experience.

Longtime listeners will have been delighted to see Gold Key’s celebrated 2018 single, ‘Mechanical World,’ appear on the album’s track list. Reflecting back, ‘Mechanical World’ served as a pitch-perfect precursor to Panic Machine. It unveils an insightful perspective on the stifling sensation that can arise from feeling unable to disconnect from our world, and completes it with an anthemic chorus that roars to life, a fuzzed-up guitar riff, a resonant bass line, and booming drums. These key elements effectively laid the groundwork for the cocktail of bewitching grit that would go on to permeate its way throughout each of Panic Machine’s twelve tracks.

Another standout track is ‘Enceladus,’ where the quartet proves that they are still able to wield their own distinctive sense of might on a more sonically stripped back track. This in itself is not only an accomplishment, but a firm nod to the skillful nature of their musicianship. The nexus of lyrics that touch upon longing and restlessness, a steady drum beat, zephyr-like guitar flourishes, and a commanding vocal performance serves as proof positive that Gold Key’s Midas touch can turn anything into the auditory form of a Homeric epic.

It would be of little surprise if Panic Machine later became regarded as one of the most paramount records of the decade. It effortlessly entrances with its unbridled vulnerability and transfixing soundscapes that capture attention of the ear and mind alike. The effort and nuance that Gold Key clearly poured into Panic Machine is apparent, lending itself to warranting several careful listens. Once is truly not enough to absorb its scope and layers – and there are many to explore. With what is now two masterful LPs to their name, Gold Key has certainly cemented their status as one of the most imperative rock acts of our time.

Panic Machine was released on 1st May via Venn Records.

Lindsay Teske
Lindsay Teske
Assistant Editor of RAMzine - Given that she was starting to listen to Led Zeppelin at the same time her friends in school were starting to listen to the Jonas Brothers, Lindsay isn't surprised that she grew up to write about rock and metal music. Originally from Chicago, Lindsay holds a BA in Public Relations and Advertising from DePaul University. She also writes for Consequence of Sound, is a self-appointed Sex Pistols expert, and loves to discover emerging artists. Above all else, though, Lindsay is so

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