MACHINE HEAD

"Bloodstone & Diamonds" (Nuclear Blast; 2014)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

When you need to tear something down or tear it up, put on a Machine Head disc. I recommend their latest offering, "Bloodstone & Diamonds," because it's got the heavy sound you need to gear up and the melodic taste will almost make it feel like it's warranted art. This is the eighth beast to come out of Oakland, CA and the best heavy metal export to date. This disc is over an hour long and the first on Nuclear Blast Records. This is also the first disc to feature a new bass player, Jared MacEachern, who used to play with Sanctity.

All the guys at Rough Edge have their names posted on the Machine Head reviews page and I figured I'd better get my digs in. I know that a lot of people get their music digitally now and I also know that vinyl is making a comeback. I still prefer the CD because I still get all the music and sometimes lyrics to the songs. This CD booklet is packed full of cool stuff: lyrics, wicked drawings of dragons and knives. It's worth the read-through to know what Machine Head rave about.

The music on this disc is metal to the core with hellacious guitar riffs, intros and solos that will make your ears bleed. The drums are the driving force and the bass keeps the downtuned guitar in line. The vocals are clean and melodic at times. A few of the cuts show off Robb's voice; he can get angry but he can also calm things down and belt out a tune when it's needed. When Robb wants to power through you he will unleash the fury and cause your hair to stand on end. There is an instrumental on this album entitled "Imaginal Cells." It's acoustic guitar with spoken words about our humanity. There is a power punch with some metal coming in right after. It's a cool and informative track.

Machine Head: Robb Flynn - lead vocals, guitar; Phil Demmel - guitar, backing vocals; Jared MacEachern - bass, backing vocals; Dave McClain - drums.

For more information on the band - http://www.machinehead1.com.

"The Blackening" (Roadrunner; 2007)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

During these turgid times, the term "epic" gets attached to many items erroneously, oftenimes a genuine misnomer, other times just plain off the mark. 

The sixth studio offering by Bay Area metal unit Machine Head smashes the pretenses and delivers an eight-track album that unquestionably merits the praise of being called an epic release. From the opening strains of "Clenching the Fists of Dissent," Robb Flynn and company take you on a tumultuous and triumphant tour through a 61-minute journey ensconced with classic metallic histrionics and an imminence embroiled with seething rage. 

Complete with venomously delivered vocals, a flurry of blistering guitar solos, meaty riffs aplenty, and a return to the jackhammering rhythms that made the metal realm first take notice, "The Blackening" makes it official: Machine Head has indeed come full circle from their early days, tossing a dash of Flynn's prior band, Vio-lence, in for good measure. 

Emblazoned with the kind of elegant brutality that only Slayer and Metallica have been able to pull off before now, "The Blackening" is a sinewy writhing beast, able to attack your senses with war-mongering fury and pure metallic glory in full gestation.

Check out www.machinehead1.com for more information.

"Through the Ashes of Empires" (Roadrunner; 2003)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Machine Head's career has come full circle, as the band's latest release is a highly touted return to their epic sound. "Through the Ashes of Empires" finds Rob Flynn and company making a comeback to the bruising metal assault that gave the Bay Area rockers their greatest notoriety, thanks to their rekindled approach to songwriting and the expert mixing skills of Colin Richardson. 

From the opening drum blasts of "Imperium," the fiery delivery -- which the outfit sorely lacked in its previous endeavors -- roars back with a vengeance. Tracks like the momentum-gaining "Days Turn Blue to Gray" showcase the visceral brutality and heavy-handed hooks which made Machine Head one of the more successful metal bands in the '90s. Yet, the songs on "Through the Ashes of Empires" also display a more mature and reflective side of the band. 

It's those kind of musical realizations that are apparent throughout this ten track release, coupled with Flynn's lyrical exorcisms on "Left Unfinished" and "Descend the Shades of Night," that make this perhaps the best Machine Head record to date and allows the outfit to definitively stake claim to the top of the metal realm again. 

Check out www.machinehead1.com for more information.

"Hellalive" (Roadrunner; 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Most of Machine Head's "Hellalive" was recorded by the band at London's famous Brixton Academy on December 8, 2001. Two of the tracks, "None But My Own" and "The Burning Red" were recorded at the With Full Force Festival in Germany on July 7, 2002.

The CD contains 14 tracks that span the band's long career - from "Davidian" and "I'm Your God Now" from their first CD, "My Burning Eyes" to "Bulldozer" and "American High" from "Supercharger."

There's not much more to say about this raging CD except that Machine Head has a reputation for being an awesome live band - full of energy, power and raw emotion and that all translates well onto this live CD. Their songs, performed live, take on a whole new life. They get fuller, more vibrant and (what a surprise!) more alive. Plus, you get the bonus of having many of the band's best songs gathered together on one CD. And, if you liked the studio versions, you're probably going to love the live versions.

Machine Head: Robert Flynn - vocals, guitar; Adam Duce - bass; Dave McClain - drums. Additional guitars by Ahrue Luster and Phil Demmel.

Check out www.machinehead1.com for more information.

"Supercharger" (Roadrunner; 2001)

Reviewed by Snidermann

I must admit, "Supercharger" is the first Machine Head CD that I actually sat down and paid a lot of attention to. I have heard a few cuts from the band in the past but had never an entire CD.

Looks like I've got some catching up to do. Machine Head's "Supercharger" is intense and powerful. It blasts out loud from the beginning of the CD and blasts forth until the end. High energy vocals are the norm throughout, mixed with thundering metal riffs. With their explosive, unique sound, Machine Head are truly one of the unsung bands in metal today. This shit simply rocks. 

Machine Head: Robert Flynn - guitar and vocals; Ahrue Luster - guitar; Adam Duce - bass; Dave McClain - drums.

Check out www.machinehead1.com for more information.

"The More Things Change..." (Roadrunner; 1997)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

This brutally intense follow-up to the band's debut is a worthy addition to the growing Machine Head catalog. The artwork on the disc matches the band's grim reflection of life's harsh realities. 

"Ten Ton Hammer," "The Frontlines," and "Blood Of The Zodiac" made immediate impressions on me. I particularly liked the inventiveness of "Blood Of The Zodiac." The character of the music is evident in the band's ability to build upon their unique sound without sacrificing their intensity and fervor.

I personally like the urban bleakness of "Spine" and the rage of "Blistering." The towering "Spine" has helped me through a pissed off crisis or two with its line "your lying is trying my dignity" while the betrayal of the main character in "Blistering" is felt during every second of the song.

Logan Madder's high-pitched guitar squeals can be a bit irritating at times, but the unique tone of his guitar easily makes up for that. Robb Flynn's voice is deep and rough, but never too gruff or screamed to the point of annoyance.

"The More Things Change..." was produced and engineered by the same team that did such a great job on the Machine Head debut "Burn My Eyes"; producer Colin Richardson (Napalm Death, Carcass, Bolt Thrower) and engineer Vincent Wojno (Pro Pain, Kreator, Testament) did a great job in keeping the taut sound of Machine Head in full force. Andy Sneap (Skinlab, Hecate Enthroned, Cathedral) added his mixing talents.

Machine Head are Robb Flynn on vocals and guitar, Logan Madder on guitar, Adam Duce on bass and backing vocals, and Dave McClain on drums. All music was written by Machine Head and all lyrics were written by Robb Flynn.

For more information check out www.machinehead1.com.

"Burn My Eyes" (Roadrunner; 1994)machinehead.jpg (12258 bytes)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

This impressive quartet mixes the best of heavy metal with a street-tough stance. It's as though the band has been hardened by bleak urban turmoil. Machine Head's all-around solid performance makes their debut an electrifying set of metal tunes.

The greatest thing going for this debut is the great use of dynamics in every aspect of the rhythm section, the huge guitar riffs, the lead guitars, and the vocals. Machine Head is one of the few bands that can say they have an instantly recognizable sound.

The lyrical topics tend to deal with serious subjects like the failure of rehabilitative incarceration ("Death Church"), urban survival ("Davidian" and "None But My Own"), and the media's role in proliferation of half-truths and lies ("A Nation On Fire" and "Block").

A few tracks stand out on this impressive debut. "Your God Now," although no threat to Metallica's harrowing tale of drug addition, "Master Of Puppets," still tells a cautionary tale of drug abuse. The classic Bay-area guitar riffs in "A Thousand Lies" lead to a very likeable chorus, and the amphetamine-driven charge of "The Rage To Overcome" hints at greater things to come from Machine Head.

However, the band is actually most interesting on the piece "Real Eyes, Realize, Real Lies" which is fundamentally an instrumental with snippets of spoken words and dialogue from various sources. The song is brief, but it achieves what few other songs in metal can do - create an original cut of musical glory from whence there was nothing previously.

As debut recordings go this is one of the best in the business. "Burn My Eyes" is a worthy addition to any metal collection. From the collective songwriting talents, to the huge sound of the rhythm guitars, to the unique lead guitar tone there are a lot of sonic treats that satisfy at every turn.

"Burn My Eyes" was produced by Colin Richardson (Napalm Death, Carcass, Bolt Thrower) and engineered by Vincent Wojno (Pro Pain, Kreator, Testament).

Machine Head are Robb Flynn on vocals and guitar, Logan Madder on guitar, Adam Duce on bass and backing vocals, and Chris Kontos on drums. The music was written by Machine Head; the lyrics were written by Robb Flynn.

Check out www.machinehead1.com for more information.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2015 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 15 Mar 2017 23:33:43 -0500.