Review Summary: Not devoid of filler material and under the questionable “nu metal” label, Supercharger may not measure up to Machine Head’s previous releases, especially Burn My Eyes and The More things Change, but it still is a good effort.
With The Burning Red, Machine Head had made an effort to identify with the modern metal bands whose sound had already taken over the U.S., making an album that alienated their hardcore fans but didn’t lack quality, always compared to most nu- metal bands. Even if it wasn’t their most acclaimed album, it still sold more than The More Things Change, so it obviously seemed to Robb Flynn and co. that The Burning Red was a step in the right direction.
That is why there are no major differences between The Burning Red and 2001’s Supercharger. In fact Supercharger is only a little heavier than the band’s previous effort, but it’s unquestionably an album that still belongs to the nu – metal genre and is miles away from Machine Head’s initial sound as heard on Burn my Eyes or The More Things Change.
Lyrically, this is Machine Head’s least sophisticated effort. It’s not as if lyrics were ever MH’s strong point, but Rob Flynn had indulged himself in some pretty serious subjects in the past; he had gone political on tracks such as A Thousand Lies or Davidian, he had covered the horrific story of the infamous serial killer in Blood of the Zodiac and even in the Burning Red he seemed to treat (in what is allegedly a concept album) the course of a man’s life and the troubles that may come along during this course. On the contrary, Supercharger oversimplifies things; track number 8 called American High narrates Flynn’s own experience with high school and how no one would believe he would ever become a rock star, so now he can rub their faces in his success. Or in Kick you when you’re Down you get slogans like “you have to trust in yourself” or “you have to follow your heart” instead of actual lyrics and it seems pretty obvious that Flynn, is trying very hard to appeal to teenagers.
Musically, Supercharger belongs mostly to the nu metal genre, and it is much closer to the Burning Red than to any of the band’s previous releases. Rob Flynn sings as much as he screams and raps and he usually sings over choruses, in an effort to give an anthemic (or commercial) vibe to his songs. His riffs are groovy rather than thrashy, and catchy, accessible melodies are added all over the place. Songs follow minimalistic structures with only 2 of them lasting more than six minutes. And like Korn and Bizkit, the production is just the best possible.
Nevertheless, I believe that by no means is Supercharger a complete and utter failure, it just should be judged for what it is, i.e. a contemporary metal release. Even if it doesn’t measure up to the band’s old standards it still matches most contemporary albums of the same genre. As usual, it starts off with an impressive opener, entitled Bulldozer, which includes a crushing riff reminiscent of MH’s thrash days. Crushing Around You and All in your Head have catchy choruses that actually deliver (I know that singing along is not what MH is about, but give them a break, these are catchy!). American High, in spite of the silly lyrics is memorable with its jungle- like intro and straightforward riff. Blank Generation ends with a Rage Against the Machine- like part, where Flynn whispers over semi-distorted guitars, builds up anger and then explodes. And Deafening Silence, the album’s most melodic track, is just great, bringing to mind the title track from MH’s previous record.
Not devoid of filler material and under the questionable “nu metal” label, Supercharger may not measure up to Machine Head’s previous releases, especially Burn My Eyes and The More things Change, but it still is a good effort. It is disappointing only because, MH would spare their talent for writing punishing riffs and heavy, aggressive songs trying to identify with bands they clearly didn’t even belong to the same league with. Luckily for those disappointed with Machine Head’s turn towards modern metal, the band would drop out of this style and proudly return to form with 2004’s Through the Ashes of Empires (and even more with The Blackening).