Review Summary: A good dose of thrash metal with an updated 90s sound.
Thrash metal supposedly died out with the advent of alternative rock and grunge. Metallica, the genre's biggest exponent, started putting out heaps of dog faeces. Megadeth turned slow and went in more heavy metal directions. Anthrax became a soap. Slayer's musical sound and quality declined. The rest of the bands were either underground, or sucked balls anyway. Then came Pantera, who took their post-thrash sound to a whole new level. And then in 1995, there was another post-thrash band called Machine Head, who released their debut Burn My Eyes.
And they sound nicely oldschool on this offering. No matter their later releases, this is one hell of a debut record. Rob Flynn's vocals are similar to Anselmo's, except they are better and he doesn't overindulge in horrible falsetto lines. He just sounds badass. In fact, it's a long time since I've heard a band in this genre spit out vocal lines and actually am able to listen to them. Thrash vocalists tend to sound either un-thrash or like moose, but Flynn's vocal delivery is convincing and overall he does an excellent job.
He also is one of the world's biggest riff making machines. Not unlike Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth, most of the Machine Head riffs are sledgehammers that instantly appeal and draw you in. One important criterion for metal is that the guitar riffs don't sound bland or recycled. The riffs have to be innovative. Flynn passes this one with flying colours as he spews out riffs like a tennis ball machine, every next one more aggressive than the one before. They break, they stomp, they crush and they crash and burn all over you. It makes the album one big sonic explosion in your ears, without ever sounding unfocused or unstructured. It also propels monsters like Old and Davidian to the forefront, who just thrive on the riff structures Flynn sets up.
Lead guitars are featured, albeit a little less prominently, and they aren't really overly memorable anyway. This record is not the one I'll always remember because the solos were that good. Now most solos tend to be overly long and a display of technique, and luckily the band doesn't overindulge in that kind of thing, as it can kill a record; the band knows when to put in a lead, when to keep riffing, and when to take the song into overdrive.
Check out the ending of None But My Own, where the band decides to step on the gas pedal and suddenly the song turns into a speed metal fest of Slayer-like intensity.
The bad thing is the rhythm section gets snowed under in all the guitar/vocal violence going on. Now you can hear the drums and they work very well with the beat and the rhythmical intensity of the music, but again this isn't the record I'm going to praise because the drums were so exceptional. And the bass just isn't anywhere mainly because the riffs and lead guitars drown everything else out on the mix. It IS the main focal point of the album, and thrash bands usually have this problem so it's not really intrusive, but it just might have been nice to, you know, hear a bass line somewhere.
The only problem this album has, is that it's going to get boring somewhere along the line. Most of the songs here are very similar in structure and style, and while you can discern some of the riffs from the first second of the song onwards, the record may grow dull and bland towards the end. It is basically 60 minutes of loud, aggressive metal and they only have one or two slower tracks to change up the tempo a little; therefore it is an album that is only suitable in a mood when you have too much energy or are raging and frustrated. If you are not in either mood, the record may lose a slight amount of appeal.
But in conclusion this makes for a rather nice listening experience. This is a band who showed huge promise here for their next couple of records, and while they may not always have lived up to that promise like they did here, this record is a brutal slab of good old metal which will definitely please fans of the genre.