Machine Head
The Blackening


5.0
classic

Review

by Headcase4life USER (3 Reviews)
September 20th, 2008 | 46 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This album contends for the greatest machine head album ever, and certainly one of the best metal albums of the 21st century, if your a Machine Head fan, if not I shall try to persuade you. Some may find its length difficult to bear.

Isn't it about time a proper Machine Head fan reviewed this album? First and foremost I'd like to say the staff member who gave this album 1 star also gave Triviums "Ember to Inferno" 2 stars...and said Halo was the worst song on the album and also rated the epic Clenching the Fists of Dissent as rubbish. I reviewed this album song by song so don't be afraid of all that I have written.

Starting with a bit of history, Machine Head had turned a 10 year decline in album sales with Through the Ashes of Empires, and toured strongly in support of it, which with the addition of Phil Demmel as a permanent guitarist brought the bands confidence up to new levels (see the DVD Elegies for some spectacular live playing and interviews) and the only thing they could possibly do was to use that confidence to create a truly awesome record...as with the “The More Things Change...”now I'm really going to divide opinion but that album was a mile and a half away form the classic Burn My Eyes, but that’s a different argument. At first 22 songs were written for the album and these were narrowed down to 8 to go on the record.

Starting from the start, Clenching the Fists of Dissent is the perfect way to open such an album. It begins with some acoustic and drums, and builds, and builds, to the first of many breakdowns when the heavy distorted guitars come in playing a truly shattering riff. Then Robb starts singing. Now if you care to read the lyrics off this album, some do sound like they have been taken from comic books but something about this song resonate. Or maybe I'm just a simple minded teenager. But the singing, well roaring I find good (if you want to hear Robb sing download Machine Heads cover of Hallowed be Thy Name) and the chorus is a typical Machine Head shouter. I love it. The song continues as such till the next chorus then everything changes. Normally as this is a pretty long song I just replay the two choruses then the rest, not that it is bad however it is different. There are several break downs and the song structure changes, this is the part where I feel Machine Head have really progressed by leaps and bounds, they control the song perfectly and it progresses to where they want it to. Ending with a final "CHANGE! Clenching to hope!” All in all, a great way to start and album but a little long, which will bring my rating down to 4.5/5

Next comes Beautiful Mourning, for me this is the best song on the album and one of the best Machine Head have ever written. Heavy riffs, good lyrics and singing and a great song structure couple together to make a great song. However unlike most of the songs on this album it is not the chorus that stays in the mind, the section after the chorus, heavy riffing come sin then Robb sings "This lifetime, in sorrow, god let the angels die, this is our last goodbye" see what I mean about the lyrics? However it is sung beautifully and ends the song fantastically. Brilliant song. 5/5 (lyrics may confuse some people though)

Aesthetics of Hate, the tribute to the great Dimebad Darrell, while many bands offer tributes in their albums to the great man (Triviums "The Crusade" for example") This one is extra special as it is played with Dime's own equipment, and has a different take on his murder...good shouty lyrics, bass and fantastic soloing make the first 5 or so minutes brilliant, but the shouty lyrics at the end of the song are too...you wouldn't want to play them loud (long live memories, live in freedom vicariously, defend tenfold his honor we'll always uphold). The end of the song however finishes with some pointless scraping which may be symbolic for something but really ruin the song. This brings my overall mark down to 4.5/5, however definitely one of their best if you skip the last minute or so.

The nearest Machine Head get to a ballad on this album is Now I Lay Thee Down. The song is Romeo and Juliet style but with messed up lyrics, still makes a good song with great singing from Robb and overall great guitar playing from the gods. The song starts with an individual guitar, then both guitars explode into the main riff, which is genius and the song melds with it perfectly, the chorus is great but the standout in this song is the solo. This is mind-blowing and brilliant, if you’re a guitarist (I don’t know much about the difficulty of solos) and you can play that you have won my respect. The song ends with the chorus, sung with a little more vigor and I was left wanting more...4.5/5 for brilliant soloing and singing loses half a star for repetition. (Dream over etc wears on me, I like Robb’s shouting)

Instead of being picked up nicely after the Now I Lay Thee Down, Machine Head instead decide to make you remember why they are still the best in the business with a complete arse kicking of a song. Slanderous. Anyone who has read the lyrics will understand there is a bit more to this song than Machine Heads previous efforts at criticizing society (Blank Generation for example). The song starts with an awesome ascending/descending riff that did the same for me as the opening seconds of Davidian (big bang, big crash, big guitar, big song). The song progresses down the familiar shouty we are bad-ass hear us roar Machine Head style, but then, a bit after the solo the song breaks...and Robb starts almost pleading. Big change from old Machine Head and marks this song out as a change in direction from the gods and a definite return to form (if Through the Ashes of Empires wasn't enough). All in all, great song has some scratching but the guitar playing is so good that I can forgive that. Brilliant song 5/5, full points for originality (I'm going to get killed for that but oh well prove me wrong)

Now for the pinnacle of the whole album, Machine Head make you wait 5 songs for this beauty and boy was it worth the wait. Halo is simply epic, great guitar work , great bass, great drumming, great soloing, great singing, great chorus, great everything. Song starts with some bass rumbling then into the main riff, verses are good and impacting, the chorus however, is a whole new level, the first time I heard it I just thought, wow they managed to make 4 words rhyme well done, then I read the lyrics, sang along to it. And I was hooked. Brilliant song. After tow choruses the song breaks and goes crap in my opinion, Robb does some horrible bellowing and there is some substandard riffs that nearly killed the song for me. The drumming however remains excellent (Dave McClain is one of the most brilliant drummers EVER; he never abuses the double kick unlike Travis of Trivium). However this is all made up for by the truly masterful solo which really sets this song apart. The solo is absolute brilliance from the gods, I don't care if it’s easy to play, you write the damn thing, and it is pure genius. Then the song breaks again and Robb does some more almost cooing like in Slanderous. Setting this song apart form everything their other material. The song then finishes with a final energetic chorus and some vigorous guitar. Brilliant. 5/5

Wolves is a bit of a rampage of riffs and solo's with a bridge that is better than the chorus...the song itself is about the strength of the pack and gangs etc. Great song, but a little long and can be a trek to get through, saying that it is brilliant but after the last 6 songs the long song format does start to wear. Instead listen to this song individually in a playlist to enjoy it. Its great number of riffs and awesome soles coupled with the rapid pace (not quite as fast as Struck a Nerve off The More Things Change... but playing those riffs at that speed must be difficult). Once again the song writing does resonate of comic books but the ideas are there and some of the lyrics are good. I do like the "a fist to the face is a fair game now, pray for the prayers". Once again a very good song 4.5/5 I take half a star for the length.

The final song of this epic album, is epic. Machine Head are very good at ending albums (*** it All, Blood of the Zodiac, The Burning Red, Deafening Silence if we ignore the crap Supercharger, and Descend the Shades of Night) and A Farewell to Arms is no exception. The song has a great structure and good mixture of singing of singing and shouting. The riffs are also good with some all out shredding at the end (not mindless as most would say, as this is not a mindless song). The song itself follows that of A Thousand Lies, anti-political (anti-war mostly though) however does suffer from some terrible lyrics (blood dripping from platinum fangs), 90 percent of the song has good lyrics though, good drumming and great guitar work. It is well worht the length and a good listen all the way through, has plenty of breaks like Clenching the Fists of Dissent but is far more enjoyable for me to listen to. Machine Head really used the best ingredients to make this song, it is heavier than Descend the Shaes of Night and the instrument work is better by leaps and bounds. One of my favourite song on the album 5/5, great bass too, when you hear it.

Overall the album has some brilliant instrument work, good lyrics (although they do lack in some areas I must admit). Some people may find the length of somgs unbearable compared to the great Burn My Eyes, and th songs are much different to the Machine Head of 1992. Its a change, but a good change. The technical brilliance may wear on some people and I must admit I do fing Burn My Eyes and The More Things Change...more enjoyable but that is for you to decide. By no means am I trying to shove this album down your throats I am sure there is better out there I am merely extolling its virtues. It certainly changed the scene of their concerts.

Top 4 (this was hard for me)
1. Beautiful Mourning
2. Halo
3. Slanderous
4. A Farewell to Arms

Not so brilliant 4 (number 1 being the least brillaint)
1. Wolves
2. Clenching the Fists of Dissent
3. Now I Lay Thee Down
4. Aesthetics of Hate


user ratings (1513)
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...

    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...

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


Comments:Add a Comment 
Inperiour
September 20th 2008


78 Comments


I neg'ed you, mainly for bad grammar, bad spellings, repetition, review was way too long (alot of it was unecessary) and because of this desperation of adjectives (e.g "shouty lyrics" WTF).

Plus the album is very mediocre. Vio-Lence > MH

joshuatree
Emeritus
September 20th 2008


3742 Comments


The final song of this epic album, is epic.


this.

Slaytan
September 20th 2008


1186 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Lol @ "shouty lyrics."

Vio-Lence > MH

Agreed.

syco722
September 20th 2008


492 Comments


HOW could you not mention that Wolves has one of the greatest breakdowns ever???
Come on man 4:21 is amazIng.

P13
September 20th 2008


1327 Comments


|m/ BREAKDOWNS |m/This Message Edited On 09.20.08

joshuatree
Emeritus
September 20th 2008


3742 Comments


fail

P13
September 20th 2008


1327 Comments


Can hear you over As Blood Runs Black br00htulness

post 1000, stupid post :DThis Message Edited On 09.20.08

Essence
September 21st 2008


3595 Comments


[quote=review]
one of the best metal albums of the 21st century
[/quote]
Somewhere, Mike just cringed, sat down, and cried for 10 minutes straight.

EnigmaticENG
September 21st 2008


1 Comments


a fun album more than anything.

marksellsuswallets
September 21st 2008


4848 Comments


If there are songs that are not so brilliant...yeah...automatically not a 5...

Headcase4life
September 21st 2008


14 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

HOW IS THIS ALBUM MEDIOCRE!!! TELL ME

I wrote this late at night geez don't give me grammar crap we're talking about the album here. Don't give a toss about Mike dunno how she can give ember to inferno a 2 and this a 1. Any of you ever been to a Machine Head concert? They are amazing. I'm not going to comment on Vio-Lence

yeah shouty lyrics rah rah. I thought it was a good adjective. And I can't think of any more synonyms for brilliant.

Ok wolves has a good breakdown, sorry I missed something I could have made it longer if you wanted me too?

Yes A Farewell to Arms is epic, I'd like to see you pick up a guitar and write something that good. You are such a critical bunch of people

DeathThrashProg
September 21st 2008


500 Comments


don't give me grammar crap we're talking about the album here

Grammar makes a good review. In fact, it should just be second nature.
i agree that Machine Head put on one hell of a live show though. oh, and i personally like this album, and if you want some advice, dont argue against the haters. just keep it to yourself.
Another piece of info, Sputnik is one of the most critical music sites i know - you just have to live with it.

Headcase4life
September 21st 2008


14 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

cheers mate. Any of you Aussies? Coz if you are, and use good grammar, you're ruining our stereotype

sadmafioso
September 21st 2008


318 Comments


first paragraph should be taken out

DeathThrashProg
September 21st 2008


500 Comments


first paragraph should be taken out

agreed
definitely would make it better

willfellmarsy
September 21st 2008


3849 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Mistakes in the summary=auto-neg...i love this album even though it incorporates everything i hate about music (thrash elements, overly long solos, shouty lrics (well i dnt mind that) and being heavy for the sake of being heavy...i just enjoy every song except wolves and don't see why it receives all the hate...

south_of_heaven 11
September 22nd 2008


5438 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

maybe I'm just a simple minded teenager

Sums up your review perfectly.

Headcase4life
September 22nd 2008


14 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

cheers dude. shove your head back up your arse, I'm sorry for having an opinion is it such a bad thing?

south_of_heaven 11
September 22nd 2008


5438 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

No it's not a bad thing to have an opinion but it is bad thing to suck Robb Flynn's dick so much.This Message Edited On 09.22.08

Thor
September 22nd 2008


10202 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I mean I like this album a lot but come on.

Digging: Black Crown Initiate - The Wreckage of Stars



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