Machine Head - Unto the locust 4/5
1. I am hell (Sonata in C#)
2. Be still and know
4. This is the end
5. Darkness within
6. Pearls before the swine
7. Who we are
I am sure that you are all wondering why I have chosen to review new Machine Head, with an influx of some major noteworthy new releases. Well, be still and know that I have a very good reason, and no, despite all the apocalyptic references, this is not the end!
You may also be asking yourself if this so-called "Thrashcore" band deserve to be on this site when acts like Lamb of God, All That Remains and Unearth have all been declined. I am enthusiastically prepared to answer with an overwhelming, "Hell, Yes!".
I have never really been a fan of this band, and I have seen them live a number of times. I remember despising their debut, and longing for another Vio-lence release. Sure, their previous effort 'The blackening' did spark my interest with the return of Phil Demmel, and when I interviewed him and Rob during their tour with Heaven & Hell, I quoted my CD review which stated: "Machine Head will be impressing the masses with their eternal nighmarish riffs...".
When I saw them with Megadeth on "Rockstar Energy Festival" this summer, they debuted a new song, and I was curious, but not enough to invest in their new album, that is until my friend bought it and played it for me! I have since convinced many of my other friends to purchase copies of their own; especially, the limited edition version with the cool covers of Rush and Judas Priest.
Just the very fact that they honour 2 of my favourite bands with killer renditions of "Witch hunt" and "The sentinel", is reason enough to buy the CD. Once you hear Rob sing on the acoustic version of "Darkness within", you will be convinced that Machine Head are the real deal.
I have read several reviews of this CD, and it seems like die-hard fans of their trademark sound are very disappointed; whereas, those of us who prefer melody, solos-a-plenty, and good singing, will be pleasantly surprised.
Consider these facts: they named themselves after an awesome Deep Purple CD. They have covered Iron Maiden, Sabbath, Metallica, and even The Police. They have members in the band who besides playing in Vio-lence, also played with the likes of Forbidden, Sacred Reich and Juggernaut.
In a new tell all book about the early days of thrash, Rob Flynn discusses what a real pit was like in the early 80s, and why Exodus was so inspired to write the songs they did. These superchargers have been there and back, and they know how to play true thrash metal with a classic edge, and a modern approach. However, in this case, there is a more redolent passion burning in their hearts, and even though the more things change, this time they definitely do not sound the same!
Oh yeah, and if you are worried about the breakdowns, sure they exist, because this band, like so many others, is influenced by the highly overrated Pantera (in my opinion), who for some reason everyone worships. Yes, there are a few gruff vocals, but most Metal CD Ratings' readers seem to love all those viking metal acts, or "beauty and the beast" clones, whose vocals at times are completely inchoate. I can understand every eschatologically vehement word Rob utters, even without a lyric sheet!
I always wondered why Leif Eidling of Candlemass considered Machine Head to be one of his favourite newer bands, I guess now I finally get it. The songs are long and enduring, but they never lose their focus, and the music is so majestic; especially the last song "Who we are" with its infectious children's chorus, which reminds me of U.D.O.'s "Animal house".
I know when I first played this CD for my wife she was a bit skeptical, but then blown away, like when she first heard 'Death magnetic'. She was never a fan, until she heard this CD, and now she actually has the songs stuck in her head. There may only be 7 punishing cuts that are new, but those seven searing slices of death are all awesome, and the proper length. I used to think that only Iron Maiden and Dream Theater could write extended cuts which never got tired or red, now I add Machine Head to my list.
In all honesty, I still do not like, or can barely even tolerate anything before 'The blackening', and even some songs on that are too long and tedious for my taste. Thankfully, the band have found the proper balance in songwriting and musicianship, even delving into classical and orchestrated elements.
Maybe once we open our hearts and minds to a band like Machine Head, and their new direction, we will be willing to acknowledge why acts like Five Finger Death Punch debuted at #3 on the Billboard Top 200. I do agree that Ivan Moody has one hell of a great voice! I also can see why new Five Finger debuted so high, as it is truly excellent. I am very excited about new Megadeth, but also very skeptical about new Metallica with Lou Reed of The Velvet Underground.
I have sincerely tried to enjoy several recent metal releases, and open myself up to newer acts; but with such an inundation of subpar material, I feel like an episode of South Park, where everything around me both musically and visually, has all turned to shit. Instead, I find myself celebrating new CDs by 3 Doors Down, Shinedown, Jane's Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc., all of which are actual CDs that I can get from my local library. These classic acts trump other new titles by some once great artists in the metal milieu, who now I can only experience digitally, lest I want to spend all my hard earned money for a special edition; otherwise, I am forced to accept the shoddy, basically lame CD packaging.
Honestly, we all need to be more open to "expecting the unexpected". Since we are always finding out who we are, this will make us more aware and vigilant, "lest we cast our pearls before swine...". This means that every band, even the ones we have all dismissed, sometimes deserve more recognition. I just hope that new Riot and Steel Panther live up to all the hype, as neither new Anthrax or Alice Cooper rocked my world as much as I had hoped!
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