Progressive Metal Played With Deadly Precision
The Great Rocky Hill | Pittsburgh, PA USA | 08/09/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Many people, upon first listen, would shriek "'Ryche clones" afterwards. I would agree to a point. Programmed does have tha Rage For Order/The Warning-era sound to it, but it does more: it improves upon it.
Lethal side-steps a manhole that many progressive metal bands fall into. They don't try to make a Gordian Knot out of sound. Yes there are displays of technical derring-do a plenty, but what is kept to the forefront on Programmed is the sense of song. There is no mere clinic to be found here. What you will find is a prog metal album for those who couldn't care less about prog metal. This is power chord mathematics for the layman.
Programmed is definitely more immediate than Lethal's later record Poison Seed, but lacks Poison Seed's warmth and quieter, more introspective moments. Both albums take you to the same rewarding destination by traveling different roads.
Programmed isn't the perfect prog metal release as its technology still leaves me with a slight chill, but yet it redeems itself via the Tate-proud vocals of Tom Malicoat, which cry out from within the circuitry like a human soul trapped inside an android. The title track to me is the record's biggest triumph, and is where Malicoat really makes his presence known. On "Programmed" he and the rest of Lethal deliver a melodic and moving assault on behalf of humankind by using the machine's own weapons against itself.
I'm not at sixes and sevens over Programmed, although I was far from disappointed either. While I didn't find a a rare gem, fool's gold this wasn't."