Review Summary: The album that started it all...Machine fucking Heead!1 of 2 thought this review was well written
Machine Head formed in 1992 after Robb Flynn and Adam Duce split from bay area thrash giants Vio-Lence and proceeded to write their own music. They recorded their first demo in a friend’s bathroom according to legend, and were consequently signed to Roadrunner records and released Burn My Eyes. Subsequently the album was Roadrunners top selling debut album ever until Slipknots self-titled release in 1999. This is the album that started the chant "Machine ***ing Head!" and to this day is considered by some to be their finest effort. The quartet is strong and work well, with all four musicians giving a fine performance in each song.
Burn My Eyes dug up a forgotten niche and saved the dying breed of groove metal (for those of you who would like to call it thrash, I'm not going to stop you, however it more closely resembles groove metal) as Robb went out of his way to write music unlike that of Vio-Lence (correct me if I'm wrong) in an attempt to avoid criticism for his departure from the band. The album's themes revolve around corruption, prejudice, the faults of society, organized religion and Machine Head's winner takes all ideology.
The opening song Davidian can only be described with vulgar adjectives to really encompass my reaction the first time I listened to it. The opening drum roll is followed by a crushing guitar riff and continues as such till Robb bellows like he's been punched in the gut, then the song speeds up and really gets into it. The thing that stands out most in this song has to be the drumming, Chris Kontos literally beats the *** out of his kit without mercy (for much of the album too), his fills are masterful to hear and to behold live (albeit by Dave McClain). The guitar also stands out, as does Robb's singing which may not work for everybody. This song is definitely one of the strongest Machine Head have ever written, however the lyrics are a bit conspired. The one line chorus "Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast!" is really provocative of the brutality of the song. I give 5/5 for sheer bone shattering music.
Old follows and while it does contain drumming in the same magnitude as Davidian, it is the guitar work that really stands out. Old contains one of the catchiest riffs I have ever heard and is great to jump along too. Again the lyrics are a bit conspired but with a riff and such groove does anyone really care? Except for Christians...there is no solo to speak of, Robb and Logan (who is a very talented guitarist) merely fill the gaps in the song with another awesome groovy riff. I shall refrain from using the word brilliant and instead say that it is a very competent song despite lyrical failings. I give another 5/5 for sheer groove.
A Thousand Lies begins with a slow riff which builds up to a heavy chugging, and definitely groovy riff. Being one of the token long songs I expected some pointless riffing to prolong the time of the song, but there really isn't any. Unlike their efforts in The Blackening, Machine Head also keep their solo to an acceptable length before reverting back to singing and chugging. The lyrics in this one are also very good and any human unable to get and jump to Robb's "so pick it up, pick it up get up!" is probably tied down and being tortured (I'll let you take your own meaning from that). Overall a great catchy song but may not please all listeners, I'll give it a 5/5 anyway.
None But My Own at first seems to have the same riff as A Thousand Lies, and I must admit they do sound similar, however I prefer this song. None But My Own utilizes another heavy chugging riff, however has some nice bass and drumming during the verses (which really stands out as groove metal). The lyrics aren't half bad and the chorus is so damn catchy it is unbelievable. Think of it as a slow head banger...if that makes sense...bang your head slowly but violently to it, again another good solo and good drumming, a 5/5 from me for being so damn catchy.
The Rage to Overcome is primarily drum driven as Chris Kontos proceeds to lay waste to his drum kit, by now though all the double kicking does start to wear on me. A mediocre and initially catchy riff begins after a while, and Kontos changing his drum pattern, which is much more pleasing but the riff annoys me after a while. However as soon as Robb starts singing the song all comes together nicely and works rather well, another slow head banger for you, with all the energy of the quicker numbers. The solo is forgettable but not rubbish and I like the lyrics. Overall I give a 4.5/5 for excellent drumming, great energy and lyrics. An often overlooked song on the album but it is good if you take the time to get used to it.
Death Church begins with some distorted voices, which I don't find necessary and thus the first crack in Burn My Eyes' mighty walls is revealed. Fast forward past the voices, to find the bulldozer of a riff waiting. Another slowed head banger it is though and some may find that three of these in a row can drag a little. However it is still an individually good song with great musicianship from all members of the band, and I like the singing and lyrics, though not everyone will and the chorus is different...not a highlight but not a lowlight, 4.5/5 for the distorted and garbled rubbish.
Now for a real highlight, A Nation on Fire is a real display of diversity and one of the strongest songs on the album. All round, the lyrics, the guitars, the bass, the drums and the singing come together better than on any other song and it does feature a fine breakdown towards the end. However by now I am tired of the slow tempo songs but herein lies a double edged sword, the song slows down, then speeds up incredibly after the breakdown and Blood for Blood follows kicking you right in the face again, provoking the memories of why this album is such a brutal display of power, made prominent a few songs ago. A great all-rounder and leads nicely into Blood for Blood. 5/5.
There isn't much to say about Blood for Blood apart from that it is a raging in your face exercise of metal, featuring a very Slayer inspired riff (discuss). Solo and lyrics are nothing to write home about however it is very good. Just not very original, Machine Head played it safe here with the right formula and I'd say it worked. Another 4.5/5 from me for a broken-bottle-swung-at-your-face experience.
Written in memory of a friend of the band (correct me if I'm wrong) I'm Your God Now slows the tempo down once again, which disappointed me at first but it is such a good song I really didn't mind after a while. Lyrics are the best on the album and the bass can be heard well, which is a good thing. Overall it is a very strong song with a good message, so a 5/5.
I would really like to know what went through Robb's mind when he wrote this song. As an instrumental Real Eyes, Realize, Real Eyes works and I do like it, but why? I see the message, I hear the instruments but I don't see the point. Why? 4.5/5 till someone tells me why (it is good though).
For the album closer Machine Head play it safe with the broken-bottle-swung-at-your-face formula and produce another rampage of a song. Block. The opening base and drums sound a bit like that from Old but they are different if you listen closely. The verses are good and I love the chorus, but they really could have just named it *** it All like they were going to and deleted all this "Block!" business. Again the riffing and drums are good, the lyrics make some sense thus overall it is good. The song does exhibit another breakdown but the one in A Nation on Fire is better by miles. Overall the song starts strongly and finishes strongly, like the album. A 4.5/5 for wow I just got another bottle broken over my head. The song loses half a star from me for originality and lyrics ("Block!").
Overall Burn My Eyes did help revitalize metal in the 90's along with Pantera and other bands. A fine all round effort, yes it is a classic but there is better out there. Not much better though...The More Things Change...in some respects, and for you other people just insert your favourite album here ____________
1. None but My Own
4. I'm Your God Now
Sorry A Nation on Fire isn't in there those are the four I listen to the most.
Not as brilliant as the 4.
Real Eyes, Realize, Real Lies till someone tells me why!