Machine Head
The Blackening



by Brain Dead USER (30 Reviews)
April 28th, 2007 | 51 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Machine Head shed their prevalent "dumb metal" label with The Blackening, an album that sports rampant progressive influences and a large spike in precision and speed from their previous releases.

Machine Head have staked an early claim to the best metal album of 2007. Let the challengers come forth.

Why? Because, quite simply, The Blackening is better than the other (still good) Machine Head releases. The musicianship is infinitely more precise; each molten riff is executed to perfection, each solo perfectly articulated and played, each beat meshing perfectly with the rhythmic thrash guitar onslaught. The songs are longer and arranged with much more care and thought: there are at least two breakdowns on Clenching The Fists Of Dissent, and never once does it feel like Machine Head are playing for the moshers. On average, there is probably at least two solos a song. The clean sections are probably the biggest improvement. They connect the different aspects of each track perfectly, and are in tune with the lyricism and heartfelt enough to make the listener feel some of Rob Flynn's anguish. This is a new aspect in Machine Head's attack, to be sure. Check out that sorrowful, pleading clean section about a minute from the end of Slanderous if you don't believe me. You will be convinced.

Whereas typical Machine Head releases may have been slightly binary in structure, The Blackening takes an entirely new path. Indeed, the progressions and development in each of the tracks is so great and so smooth that you would have a hard time believing that these guys were once the dumbest and the toughest of the numerous dumb and tough in the thrash world. Take, for example, the ballad-ish Halo. Halo is a song built on melodic harmonies rather than rhythmic craziness. Instead of the heavy-handed, rather simple ballads that many thrash bands employ, the intricate harmonies of Halo are constructed with delicate, spidery guitar riffs and powerful vocal performances from Robert Flynn. Halo even shows shades of the famous Metallica ballad One with some machine gun riffing. Except, this time it's topped with a scorching solo. Brilliant, I tell you. Other greats are obviously the epic Clenching The Fists Of Disent and A Farewell To Arms. My other favorite would have to be Slanderous, which starts off with some complex ascending/descending riff dynamics before launching into a full blown thrasher, with an insanely catchy chorus to top it off. Oh, and one more excellent track: Now I Lay Thee Down. The riffing is a bit slower than the rest of the album, but the song carries an ominous, doomy tone to make up for it. And the chorus is positively mindblowing. A final positive: the bass playing, when it is heard, is brilliant. It can carry the melody seamlessly, and has a delicious warm and fuzzy tone.

My biggest negative (and there aren't many) with this album would have to be Machine Head's unwillingness to fully explore the possibilities of their clean passages. For example: Slanderous sports and excellent clean passage near the end of the song. You think that the song is going to fade out gently on that passage. Instead, Machine Head jump back in with a breakdown of sorts, ruining the mood. Also, I feel that Aesthetics Of Hate isn't quite up to par with the rest of the album. The last two minutes are kind of unnecessary: a heavy handed and awkward clean passage fades into a completely extraneous section that consists mostly of random guitar screeching. The song itself isn't anything special either: it's simply riffing regurgitated from the excellently executed thrash number preceding it, Beautiful Mourning. Rob Flynn's harsh vocals can get a bit grating in points, and the harsh backing vocals sound uncomfortably like metalcore shouting in points. Other than that, this is an excellent album.

This nearly got a 4.5, but ultimately just didn't have that extra oomph. Still, a superb album. Hopefully it doesn't grow off me as quickly as Through The Ashes Of Empires did...

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user ratings (2161)
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Mikesn EMERITUS (1)
    With their sixth studio effort, Machine Head releases one of the year's most overrated alb...

    InfernalDeity CONTRIBUTOR (4.5)
    "Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change."...

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

    battleinthenorth (4)
    An intense, visceral display of fine musicianship that more than eclipses anything the ban...

  • 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...

    Altmer (3.5)

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

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

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

Comments:Add a Comment 
Brain Dead
April 28th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

I wrote this a while ago for rateyourmusic. Since the only review of this album gave it a 1.5, I thought I'd provide an alternate viewpoint.

April 28th 2007


Machine Head shed their prevalent "dumb metal" label with The Blackening

Nah, this album is really dumb.

April 28th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

If I liked Burn My Eyes, would I like this?

Because that one owns.

April 28th 2007


These songs are mainly extended versions of Burn My Eyes. If you don't have a problem against long songs, you will probably like this album.

April 29th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

Ok review, but I think you took a few ideas from how the lead singer was describing this album before it came out. Still, cant complain when the review is in my favor! Aesthetics of Hate rules too!This Message Edited On 04.28.07

May 8th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

This album is fantastic. This is their most mature album and I think it will go down as the album of the year.

May 8th 2007


Album Rating: 1.0

Nah, this album is really dumb.

Nice review though.

May 8th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Good review. A little short, but good for whats there. I like this album, but I think it's overrated a bit. Some of the songs do drag on.

king sandbox
May 27th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

this is a great album, best metal album since ascendency. only negative (as you pointed out) is that aesthetics of hate has an uneccesary ending breakdown

May 30th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, this album kinda drags. It's not bad by any means, and a lot of the riffs are breakneck, plus they get bonus points for their excellent Battery cover, so all in all that's a snazzy 3 for me.

May 30th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

This album is chock full of great riffs. The song structures and arrangements are probably the best the band have done too.

The Battery cover was previously released on a Kerrang! CD - I had heard it before but truth be told, it is a really good cover.

May 30th 2007


I never paid attention to MH, but i wanna check this out now. The mp3 track they have on here is pretty thrashy. I like.

June 26th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0

best f**king metal album ever!!!

July 5th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

No, he is just retarded.

An opinion is not a lie - just sometimes people's opinions suck so badly, they might as well be called liars.

July 5th 2007


Album Rating: 1.5

he hasn't seen real metal

July 6th 2007


unless you're Daredevil!

this album sucks.

July 6th 2007


This album is great. They have improved shitloads. Halo is my fav song on it, the only one i dont like would have to be wolves. The thing they've done with the duel guitars in the solo's is awesome.

July 10th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

This album FUKIN SHREDS. Now i lay thee down and halo culd possibly be the best songs ever... fuk all thse who dont like it...

July 22nd 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

really an incredible master piece of mordern metal..

July 29th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

Very nice album! Im enjoying it a lot. I never liked Machine Head before this one. This is just great!!

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