Machine Head
Unto the Locust


4.5
superb

Review

by johnny of the Well USER (38 Reviews)
December 19th, 2011 | 7 replies | 2,673 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Machine Head are the same but different and all the better for it

1 of 1 thought this review was well written

Machine Head had a lot to achieve with this album; 2007’s The Blackening was viewed as a masterpiece by many and, even though it was more than a little overrated, there is no doubt that it was a hard record to follow. As well as this, there was the issue of whether or not the band should change their sound to reach out to a new audience (and possibly lose some old fans) or play safe and release The Blackening MK II. With Unto The Locust, they took all the savagery and power of The Blackening, made it slightly more extreme, infused more melodic aspects to make it more accessible and threw in some classical/clean sections for good measure. The result is an album that demolishes The Blackening effortlessly, as well as pretty much anything else that crosses its path.

The album is started by one of its main highlights; the explosive package of frenzied rage that goes by the name of I Am Hell (Sonata In C#). Rob Flynn’s clean vocals at the beginning really blew me away and confused me at the same time; I found it hard to believe that a band as dedicated to thrash as Machine Head could record something so gentle and beautiful. It reminded me of the way that Metallica opened their scathing thrasher Fight Fire With Fire with an acoustic solo before dropping the bomb and unleashing hell. After Rob’s Latin intro is finished, I Am Hell blows up into what the band describes as the heaviest song they’ve ever written, which is pretty much true. This song is so fast, technical and unbelievably angry that you can’t listen to it without being infected with at least a little bit of the rage it conveys. As well as this, it is the only Machine Head song so far that has struck me as being truly epic; sure, The Blackening had some long songs, but they were never as powerful or creative as this. Only one song into the album and you will already be asking yourself “What the **** is this?”

The other main highlight of Unto The Locust is This Is The End. This song succeeds for similar reasons to I Am Hell – raw, explosive power - but whereas the opener explored new territory for Machine Head with its clean singing and extended outro, as soon as its acoustic intro is over, This Is The End is a take-no-prisoners slab of livid aggression, packed full of blistering riffs, enraged screaming and scorching solos. It may only be a continuation of the ideas that have already been displayed in I Am Hell, but is does this so ferociously and brilliantly that it can’t be criticized for its lack of originality.

The other highlights in the album include the slower, groovier Locust, which boasts a sky-high chorus and one of Machine Head’s premier solos, and the eccentric Pearls Before The Swine, which contains the strongest riff in the whole album at the end and reminds me of Slanderous from the Blackening because of its frequent use of triplets. Although it has been criticized for its irregular structure, I find that it adds a bit of variety.

Special mention must also be given to Rob Flynn’s vocals, which have improved since The Blackening and are both more raw and brutal when he screams and more melodic when he sings (which doesn’t happen very often) and Dave McClain’s drumming, which is both fast and stylish, since it fits in with the guitars perfectly. Phil Demmel further solidifies his place in the band with blinding solos and creative riffs. Adam Duce does everything right, but it would be great to hear some more input from him.

Based only on its highlights, I would easily consider Unto The Locust to be a classic. Sadly, there are some parts of the album that aren’t quite as strong. Who We Are is the main culprit of this, since the children’s’ choir at the start sounds completely out of place and the rest of the song is mediocre with the exception of the strings that come in at the end. It’s a pity that Machine Head ended such a great album with one of their worst songs since Supercharger. Although Who We Are is easily the worst song here, there are some other flaws. Be Still And Know is by no means a bad song, but it fails to stand up to the quality that surrounds it and ends up being slightly forgettable. Finally, Darkness Within is a great song, but after all the hype that surrounded it when the album came out I felt slightly disappointed when I heard it for real and have never managed to hear it since then without feeling slightly unfulfilled.

In Unto The Locust, Machine Head expanded their style slightly and came up with an album with frighteningly powerful climaxes and low points that were all good songs (apart from Who We Are). It is an album that I will be listening to for a long time, and the only question that I have is how they’ll be able to follow it up (so I guess they’re back to where they started). Hear this if you appreciate metal for melodic savagery in any shape or form.

Top 5
1. This Is The End
2. I Am Hell (Sonata In C#)
3. Pearls Before The Swine
4. Locust
5. Darkness Within

Pros

Very consistent
Great musicianship
Balance between brutality and melody

Cons

Who We Are
More clean vocals would be appreciated
Adam Duce doesn’t stand out as much as the other members (but he doesn’t do anything wrong)



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Comments:Add a Comment 
TheNotrap
December 19th 2011



7981 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album rules hard.

Also nice review.
pos

donovan909
December 19th 2011



22 Comments


Great album, definitely helping them re-establish themselves as one of the great American thrash bands. This album and The Blackening are two solid albums back to back (Through the Ashes of Empires was good, but not great)..I have loved them since Burn My Eyes and glad to have them back in full form.. after having the two abysmal failures that were The Burning Red and Supercharger I thought they might have just destroyed whatever credibility they had....

BonerAdams
December 19th 2011



64 Comments



Machine Head had a lot to achieve with this album; 2007’s The Blackening was viewed as a masterpiece by many


Many 12 year old penis-in-zipper victims

the explosive package of frenzied rage


A.K.A: Smelly bundle of hormonal shrieking from grown men who should know better

This Is The End is a take-no-prisoners slab of livid aggression,


quivering with brootal


This song is so fast, technical and unbelievably angry that you can’t listen to it without being infected with at least a little bit of the rage it conveys.


Or nausea, from its overall shittyness. Just saying.

raw and brutal when he screams and more melodic when he sings (which doesn’t happen very often)


Except in Metal

Madbutcher3
December 19th 2011



1081 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review, album is meh. Would be 8 times better if they stopped pretending to be a metalcore band.

KILL
December 19th 2011



70573 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

m/

Digging: Gal Costa - Gal Costa

TrephineArtist
December 19th 2011



181 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

After 17 years as a fan this is the first MH album I've been disappointed with (and that includes The Burning red & Supercharger, which I really like).

Too much old school widdly widdly 80's thrash solo's for my taste, don't need another Metallica. Parts of songs are indeed very good, but not one whole great song, although I am hell comes closest.

Who we are is shockingly poor (except for the outro, which is ok), and ends the album on a real anti-climax.

LaughingSkull
December 22nd 2011



216 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good review.

I very much agree with your con "More clean vocals would be nice". I think that Robb Flynn actually has a very good clean vocal style and an uncanny talent for writing melodic pieces. (i.e. "Darkness Within", "Descend the Shades of Night", hell, even the title track from the hated "The Burning Red") He should use it more because it works damn well.



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