Machine Head
The Blackening


1.0
awful

Review

by Mike Stagno EMERITUS
March 26th, 2007 | 665 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: With their sixth studio effort, Machine Head releases one of the year's most overrated albums. Combining stale riffs, horrendous performances, and insipid song writing, The Blackening will likely go down as one of 2007's worst releases. Avoid if you can.

Hype. Quite a double edged sword when it comes to new releases, rising bands, or upcoming tours. If done correctly, it can get those who would not normally be associated with certain acts to become fans, or at least follow the band more closely then they would otherwise. If not, well, the results could be somewhat disastrous, leading to over-expectation and disappointment. Every year certain bands jump onto the hype machine with varying results. With 2007's The Blackening, Machine Head took this gamble, and for quite awhile now, we've had to hear about how heavy, progressive, and kick ass it is. Or something to that effect. And with early reviews of The Blackening popping up across the net, it seems critics were taking a liking to the album's direction. The hype machine is still plugging away, I see. However, I am not what you would call the biggest Machine Head fan, and despite all the praise flying around, I was still feeling pretty sceptical about what they could produce. After all, this is Machine Head. Unsurprisingly, I was quite right about The Blackening. It isn't really that special…at all.

Two things, bands and their albums rather, come to mind when I listen to The Blackening. The first is a more appropriate comparison when it comes to actual sound. In 1991, Dark Angel followed released the disappointing Time Does Not Heal, an album which proudly stated "9 songs, 67 minutes, 246 riffs!" There may have been 246 riffs, there may not have been, but what I do know for sure was that Time Does Not Heal was a colossal waste of time. For a more modern example, there's DragonForce. And who doesn't know DragonForce's musical formula, one that seems like it focuses more and being faster than the speed of sound than, well, sounding good. Their breakthrough record, Inhuman Rampage, not unlike Time Does Not Heal, was pretty bland and uninspired. Only instead of 246 riffs in 67 minutes it had a million riffs in 56 minutes. Or something. So why did I write 149 words on two mediocre albums and mention The Blackening only once? Because The Blackening feels exactly like these two albums. It has riffs galore; for the most part, these are terribly boring groove riffs, but there are some thrashy guitar lines, solos and harmonies as well. But mostly bland, soulless groove riffs which got old almost as quickly as any other metal trend.

However, the comparison to both of those albums does not end there. In effort to create ultra heavy, br00tal, tr00 metal and incorporate what frontman and guitarist Rob Flynn claims to be 20-30 different riffs – molten riffs at that – half of The Blackening is home to songs exceeding at least six minutes in length. Four of these five tracks pass the nine minute mark. Yes that's right, 9 minutes. Some bands can and are rather good at writing superb nine minute epics. See Iron Maiden and Opeth. Machine Head is not one of these bands. I may have mentioned something similar to this in a different review about as different band (I've definitely thought about doing it in the past), but I'm not quite sure you could find a more appropriate place to apply such a description. Machine Head's two longest pieces, Clenching the Fists of Dissent and A Farewell to Arms are 10:35 and 10:12 respectively. Unsurprisingly, both are completely unlistenable. Clenching the Fists of Dissent starts out decently enough with a mix of clean guitars and light distortion for about one minute forty seconds, before reverting to mediocre thrash guitar and horrid Phil Anselmo impressions from Flynn. Chugging, shouting, chugging, shouting, and more chugging follows and you've pretty much listened to the whole album before the opening song is half over. Honestly, Clenching the Fists of Dissent was a horrible way to start the album, as it does nothing, save for maybe causing one to pull his or her hair out. And give the listener a bad (yet accurate) impression of what is too come.

Admittedly, The Blackening does improve with the three middle tracks, Beautiful, Slanderous, and Now I Lay Thee Down, but even these tracks are far from enjoyable. Slanderous and Now I Lay Thee Down are the two strongest tracks, and start out fairly decently with interesting guitar riffs. Luckily, we also get a break from Rob's ear splitting shout with some clean vocals, and while these clean vocals are not exceptionally crafted, they're far stronger than the alternative. Ultimately, the three middle tracks are just average groove tracks (meaning that they're fairly terrible), but I would definitely take nine Slanderous-es what Machine Head has offered here. They're much easier to digest and for all their shortcomings, are far more enjoyable than the likes of Wolves or Halo.

As much as I would like to say otherwise, there were a few redeemable parts of The Blackening. Not many, mind you, but on occasion they managed to put together some fairly solid passages. For the most part, this revolves around the guitar tandem, Phil Demmel and Rob Flynn. Something I will not deny the pair is their skill on the axe. No, they aren't mind blowingly great and you wouldn't mix them up with Rusty Cooley or John Petrucci, but every now and then they pull of some thrashy riff, solo, or harmony which could make one smile, I suppose. The solos fit the music fairly well, and are almost always blazing fast or as Flynn would probably put it "metallic and molten." Unfortunately, Machine Head does not make use of these techniques enough for them to make a difference, and they are really overshadowed by the listless riffing.

Overall, Machine Head's 2007 offering and sixth album, The Blackening, is probably one of the weakest, most overrated albums of the year. While I can se many enjoying it, due to its horrid song writing, equally unpleasant vocals, and aside from a few moments in every song, mediocre instrumental performances, I will not be one of these people. I'm not sure if Machine Head can do better than this, as I have not really listened to any Machine Head in the past, but one would assume they can as The Blackening never really does anything to warrant more than two listens. It gets progressively worse with each listen, and unless you're into wasting 61 minutes of your life I do not recommend checking this out. If The Blackening did not include any of the 9-10 minute jam sessions, it would probably be a more interesting listen, though only a 2, maybe 2.5 at most. Just as with Dark Angel's Time Does Not Heal or DragonForce's Inhuman Rampage, I don't bother checking this out. Seriously.

Recommended Tracks:
Slanderous
Now I Lay Thee Down



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user ratings (1504)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • LaughingSkull (3)
    hype hype hype...

    battleinthenorth (4)
    An intense, visceral display of fine musicianship that more than eclipses anything the ban...

    oneeyedlittleman (3.5)
    Though it may be somewhat of a flawed diamond, it has enough gems to make it a worthwhile ...

    Professor (5)
    "Oh, how we love it when a veteran band picks itself off the floor, dusts itself off, and ...

  • Zipzop5565 (2)
    An OK album. If you like long songs that would be much better if they ended at the halfway...

    J2e2c (3)
    Machine Head have matured into more dynamic band, capable of taking the listener through s...

    Headcase4life (5)
    This album contends for the greatest machine head album ever, and certainly one of the bes...

    YHB (4)
    Not quite the new Master Of Puppets, but an excellent reaffirmation of Machine Head's stre...

  • Jorn van Schaïk (3.5)
    ...

    Slaytan (3.5)
    Machine Head's The Blackening proves that number 7 really may be lucky......

    Brain Dead (4)
    Machine Head shed their prevalent "dumb metal" label with The Blackening, an album that sp...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Mikesn
Emeritus
March 27th 2007


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

I know not too many of you will like this, but this is terrible. Easily the worst new release I've heard since The Crusade, save for Annihilator's new album of course.

Tyler
Emeritus
March 27th 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I haven't listened to this that much, but I actually quite liked it...

Counter-Review, maybe?!!? dundundundun!!

Coma1996
March 27th 2007


26 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I thought this was one of the best releases I have hear from Machine Head. You can tell that there is an air of synergy surronding the band and their sound. And the vocals, much better than the rap crap of releases such as "From This Day". Also you would be the first reviewer I have ever heard complain about too much creativity, too many riffs and too epic of songs. I don't get how you can dislike this so much yet drool over the thought of the new annihilator album

Tyler
Emeritus
March 27th 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, I thought the Annihilator was pretty bad.

For me this album totally redeems them. It's a nice balance between groove and thrash, and I really don't know how you hated it SO much.

TheHamburgerman
March 27th 2007


1300 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I am not would you would
I think you wanted to type "I am not what you would" here. 1st paragraph.

The review is nice, but overly critical. I have heard some songs, it's not as strong as TtAoE or BME, but also not as bad as Supercharger and TBR.

Altmer
March 27th 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

who the fuck negged this review, it's pretty good

jrowa001
March 27th 2007


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i havent heard this yet but since their last album has sort gotten boring i might check this out. ill probably have mixed feelings about it. even though your review was harsh you supported your opinions

heavy metal kid
March 27th 2007


174 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review.

I thought this album was pretty good, even better than Burn my Eyes.

Abaddon2005
March 27th 2007


684 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Good review, considering all the different opinions on this album I'll check it out. The negging is stupid, but with reviews with a low rating for an album like this it has almost become common practice.

south_of_heaven 11
March 27th 2007


5438 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

lol

Wish
March 27th 2007


262 Comments


The negging is stupid
Well, not really. I negged it because it was four and a half paragraphs of him saying "um they cant write long songs, after five minutes youve heard most the album, these three tracks are the best on the album but theyre still bad!"
There was very little description. It doesn't warrant a 'Yes' vote.
i hope rob flynn finds u and pisses on ur face
I laughed so hard at that.

Abaddon2005
March 27th 2007


684 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

No, it really wasn't. the 2nd and third paragraph have quite a bit of description, and I feel I've gotten a good idea of how this album sounds, (objectively) even though I haven't heard this. Obviously the reviewer will have his opinions on the music, but he does describe what that music sounds like.

next to that, the review is definitely not of such a poor or low quality that it qualifies a neg.This Message Edited On 03.27.07

Mikesn
Emeritus
March 27th 2007


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

snap, haha

I don't get how you can dislike this so much yet drool over the thought of the new annihilator album
no no no no no no that sucks.

i hope rob flynn finds u and pisses on ur face
He did last night.

That's where I stopped paying attention to what you were writing.
Unlistenable because they drag on and on and on and on and go nowhere. I wanted to skip half of these songs when I was listening to them. That's just me though.

Mikesn
Emeritus
March 27th 2007


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

The review is nice, but overly critical.
I suppose. I don't really like doing negative reviews all that much unless I have a strong opinion of the album. By the way thanks for pointing out the grammar mistake, I fixed it.
Bahhh those are my two top tracks!
Either way, good review Mike, though I disagree with it. Very nicely done
Thank you, I spent alot of time writing it.
Good review, considering all the different opinions on this album I'll check it out. The negging is stupid, but with reviews with a low rating for an album like this it has almost become common practice.
Unfortunately. You might as well check it out I guess. Most seem to like it, but I don't really feel it's worth the listeners time. Whatever, I don't know what I'm saying. :p

Stalusk
March 27th 2007


90 Comments


Only heard the two songs but need to hear more. I guess there not into shorter songs these days.

rmgebhardt
March 27th 2007


32 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think someone who actually, you know, knows their head from their ass should have reviewed this. No mention of the progress the band has made since their last album. This was the natural progression for them. No mention of how this is melding some of their early sound with more mature songwriting. I have a feeling the author was writing this as he did in an attempt to simply illicit attention. This is not convincing at all. Sorry.

YHB
March 27th 2007


45 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's your opinion, and it was written well, so yeah.. I still don't think you could be more wrong about the album, but different strokes and all that. It's good to hear something from the other end of the spectrum, after all the press s*** themselves talking about it.

Wolves and Halo are darn good songs though =)This Message Edited On 03.27.07

Inflames
March 27th 2007


635 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

the album is nothing special...
but I've heard worse.

Abaddon2005
March 27th 2007


684 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I think someone who actually, you know, knows their head from their *** should have reviewed this. No mention of the progress the band has made since their last album. This was the natural progression for them. No mention of how this is melding some of their early sound with more mature songwriting.


While I'm a fan of people doing their homework, you're implying he should own the entire discography in order to write a good review, which is ridiculous. Sure, it would have been nice to hear what progress the band has made since their last album, but it doesn't mean he can't review this if he doesn't own any other albums by the band.

Also, I just noticed this while scrolling down;

That's where I stopped paying attention to what you were writing.

I can't say this review was well written.


You haven't read the entire review, yet you can already tell it's not well written? Bravo!


Confessed2005
March 27th 2007


3314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I actually think this has some of Machine Head's best material yet.

I do not agree with the rating at all but the review was well written.

I might review this later...but probably not if people are going to write god knows how many reviews of it (like what happened with The Crusade etc).



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