Machine Head
The Blackening


3.5
great

Review

by Jorn van Schaïk USER (172 Reviews)
June 3rd, 2007 | 9 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist


Machine Head are one of those bands that have never lived up to the promise they once held. Burn My Eyes, hailed as a great slab of post-thrash metal in the vein of the mighty Pantera, took the metal world by storm when it was released. But never since has the band been able to come up with something that would resemble their debut in terms of quality, splendour and intensity.

After years of flirting with other genres, like the stale nu-metal, the band finally recorded an album with Through the Ashes of Empires that looked like it could be something. And come 2007, the Head had set out to win back the hearts of the souls that had left them after their miserable escapades around the turning of the millenium. Robb Flynn and the men worked long and hard on their newest baby, The Blackening, and released it only a short while ago. Widely acclaimed as a huge return to form, surrounded by hype and all kinds of prejudices, it seemed like Machine Head finally had released an album that could challenge the throne so long occupied by their most senior release.

And it's safe to say the band finally sounds like they did on their debut, albeit with better production. The Pantera-esque heavy groove riffs are back, smashing your face and breaking you down to the ground. Robb Flynn does the trademark Phil Anselmo bark, and never relents in his musical and political tirade against the current state of the US. The mirror flatters thee not, as they say. Nothing new, but Machine Head have always been rooted in Bay Area thrash, and when they aren't going by the Pantera rulebook, they take out some Metallica or Slayer and incorporate that, not to mention the Battery cover which simply stomps all over your face.

So if this sounds like all the good thrash bands, has all the elements that made Pantera and Metallica so big, why does this only get a 3.5 rating? Because next to those two bands, Machine Head decided to go the lengthy metal song route, pumping some Rush and Dream Theater influences into the mix as well. Four songs breach the nine-minute mark, and while this is nothing that can't be digested, Machine Head do not have the technical capabilities like the prog metal masters to remain interesting for the duration of the song. Machine Head are no slouches, either, and the band present their vigorous riffs with crushing intensity, but a band like this is simply better off toning down the song lengths for the fans to digest. A thrash metal fan digs pure, raw energy and not the complex and intricate song rhythms prevalent in other metal genres. Plus the complex rhythms take away the focus from the main point of the genre.

However, Machine Head have to be given credit for experimenting with their sound and not making the same record twice (shortening this down would make the album become more like Burn My Eyes II). A band cannot live off its past successes always - unless you are the mighty Iron Maiden or Metallica - and MH does not yet have that status.

This may not be exactly the thing MH fans were looking for, but the band is at least back on form and firing on all levels, which can only be a good thing given the band's past output. If the band toned down the excesses and trimmed the fat on their next record, Machine Head could finally become what they promised to be way back when. Now, they're just a good band with their merits and flaws.



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user ratings (1468)
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...

  • 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...

    Mike Stagno EMERITUS (1)
    With their sixth studio effort, Machine Head releases one of the year's most overrated alb...


Comments:Add a Comment 
kalkal50
June 3rd 2007


2386 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Very good review, I should have this soon.This Message Edited On 06.03.07

Mikesn
Emeritus
June 3rd 2007


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Good review. Album is pretty bad though.

Digging: Grimes - Visions

Yazz_Flute
June 3rd 2007


18812 Comments


great review, just voted.

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

Slaytan
June 3rd 2007


1186 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Good review, /votes. Better than mine, haha..

Wizard
June 3rd 2007


19523 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, but I disagree with one thing; Machine Head do not have the technical capabilities like the prog metal masters to remain interesting for the duration of the song. They said in an interview that they were listening to alot of Rush while making this album. But I dont think they were trying to go for the complexity that Rush does in their long songs. I think they were trying to remain relatively simple but put together a bunch of riffs and give the songs a more epic feel.
I personally found they got better with longer tunes but thats only my opinion.



Digging: Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire

Altmer
June 4th 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yes, I saw that interview. But the thing is, those long songs don't work out all too good for MH. They're better off staying shorter and just delivering the energy.

Wizard
June 4th 2007


19523 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Altmer,
True to that too. I found the first song on this album could have had some of the fat trimmed off it. Halo and Wolves worked out very well though IMO.

ShadowRemains
April 25th 2010


21072 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Halo is awesome

Digging: Execration (NOR) - Morbid Dimensions

ShadowRemains
April 25th 2010


21072 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Halo is awesome



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