Tim Armstrong (Op Ivy, Rancid) must love these guys. Suicide Machines alternates between ska and breakneck-paced old-school punk rock, and it's a testament to the band's skills that it brings off both better than most of its more single-minded peers. The Detroit quintet formed in the early '90s, and its first album, Destruction by Definition, blew up, selling a few hundred thousand copies, but the band has faced declining commercial prospects ever since, despite a string of terrific albums. Perhaps it's because of the band's loyalty to the classic styles while hybrids like melodic hardcore and emo have become the rage. Yet for purists who love the chiming, anthemic roar of '70s punk from the Damned to X, or the rock-steady two-tone bounce of the Specials, the Machines capture both the spirit and the energy of those sounds, and are the best act this side of Rancid at capturing the Clash's old twin loves -- punk rock and reggae.
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