Machine Head
The Blackening



by battleinthenorth USER (30 Reviews)
November 17th, 2013 | 13 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An intense, visceral display of fine musicianship that more than eclipses anything the band put out prior to this.

Of all the modern metal titans, I have long since felt that Machine Head are a tad over-appreciated. Whereas critics forever hail them as an integral part of the modern surge in metal popularity with releases such as Burn My Eyes, their material has always just felt a little too long and drawn out. This lack of focus really dragged down Rob Flynn's machine down on their first five releases, with only Burn My Eyes sticking out even a little from the rest of the bunch. As such, when the fanfare built up following the release of The Blackening in 2007 (sometimes hailed as a modern metal classic), I was a tad dubious. The question was, did Flynn manage to finally concentrate his efforts on writing an album that could sway any naysayers of the band?

Within a couple of minutes, this album delivers a firm kick between the legs with a resounding "yes" attached. The Blackening is nothing short of an absolutely magnificent release, with a visceral and engaging collection of tracks built off violent drumming, aggressive and over-the-top vocal work and varied, brutal guitar riffs. Following a brief calm before the storm, Clenching The Fists Of Dissent shows straight away that Flynn has really scraped the bottom of the barrel to craft some interesting riffs here. Flynn's fingers are constantly dancing around the fretboard on each of these songs, changing riffs just frequently enough to cancel out the key problem with their past works - stagnancy. Whereas the lengthier tracks on their past works felt a bit too drawn out and as such seemed to implode by the time they hit the five minute mark, tracks such as Halo, again making good use of a clean introduction, just thunder past despite eclipsing nine minutes in length.

The individual performances from each member here are brilliant. In place of the irrelevant bass work on previous releases, the bass fills a void that would otherwise be noticeable in the calmer sections of the songs where there are no soul-destroying low-end riffs to focus on. Meanwhile, the double bass patterns and jumps between powerful quicker beats and equally interesting and enjoyable slower ones such as on Aesthetics Of Hate ensure the drumming never drops the ball. Both guitarists are supremely talented, and display it best on the sole sub-five minute song, Beautiful Mourning. Each of these songs hits hard with an arsenal of different paces, assaulting the senses with some often brutal instrumentation, whilst Rob Flynn roars over the top of it all in his signature guttural chant. This is a stellar performance across the board.

The Blackening is an album that really never gets old. Each of the songs is paced so well that the longer ones feel just as focused and jaw-dropping as the slower ones. Whilst this is not quite a modern metal classic as there are no songs that really leap out as being masterclasses in this style of music, it is a brilliant album that mixes great instrumentation with a furious vocal performance and a keen sense of melody.

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user ratings (1574)
other reviews of this album
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  • Mike Stagno EMERITUS (1)
    With their sixth studio effort, Machine Head releases one of the year's most overrated alb...

    Professor (5)
    "Oh, how we love it when a veteran band picks itself off the floor, dusts itself off, and ...

    Brain Dead (4)
    Machine Head shed their prevalent "dumb metal" label with The Blackening, an album that sp...

    Slaytan (3.5)
    Machine Head's The Blackening proves that number 7 really may be lucky......

  • J2e2c (3)
    Machine Head have matured into more dynamic band, capable of taking the listener through s...

    LaughingSkull (3)
    hype hype hype...

    Jorn van Schaïk (3.5)

    YHB (4)
    Not quite the new Master Of Puppets, but an excellent reaffirmation of Machine Head's stre...

  • Zipzop5565 (2)
    An OK album. If you like long songs that would be much better if they ended at the halfway...

    oneeyedlittleman (3.5)
    Though it may be somewhat of a flawed diamond, it has enough gems to make it a worthwhile ...

    Headcase4life (5)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
November 17th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5


November 17th 2013


This band is actually soulless. I think everyone needs to remember The Burning Red.

Ocean of Noise
November 17th 2013


Album Rating: 4.5

Rating is too low but very very well written review. Have a pos

Digging: Katatonia - Last Fair Deal Gone Down

November 17th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

i enjoy the fact that this isn't that awful staff review that literally makes no point.

reviews pretty good bruv have a pos

November 18th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

Could never get into this album but Slanderous is okay.

November 18th 2013


sorry to say but i miss the burning red years.

November 18th 2013


From this day is catchy but most of the machine head's nu metal works are mediocre and uninspired. The blackening rules and the rating is a little bit lower than expected

November 18th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

Nice write up.

My enjoyment of this album comes and goes. Their debut > though.

November 18th 2013


Debut is good for some reason I enjoy more this than their debut, even slanderous which is the weakest track is more enjoyable than a big part of burn my eyes

November 18th 2013


Album Rating: 5.0

Good review man

Digging: The World Is a Beautiful Place... - Harmlessness

November 18th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

As a long time fan of the MH (since 94') they've never really let me down (and that includes The Burning Red & Supercharger). But I agree with one of the comments above that The Blackening and then Unto the Locust have less soul than the bands prior output, despite this they are still solid releases.

There are some great songs, notably the opening and closing tracks as well as the somewhat shorter 'Beautiful mourning' but they seem to be going for a more thrash/old school sound (hello Metallica), whereas in the past MH was a more multi faceted beast with hardcore, punk, (even hip hop!) as well as metal the influences. Maybe it's the influence of Phil Demmel, maybe it's just what the band wants to do but generally it just doesn't grab me as much as their previous material. I'm looking forward to seeing/hearing where they go from here (post UTL with the new bassist).

November 19th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

Vio-lence >

November 19th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

how can you hear clenching the fists of dissent and find it lacking soul.

its got the soul of zach de la rocha with gutteral screams instead of raps.

what. the. actual. fuck. maaaaaan

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