Review Summary: A wait of three years for Machine Head's second studio album should have produced better in many peoples opinions, but think of it like cheese...
After a three year wait for a follow up to the magnificent Burn My Eyes, many fans waited in eager anticipation for the follow up. Any album building on the aforementioned album’s style was never going to be bad, but most were disappointed with this effort and The More Things Change... has never received the credit it deserves, it simply disappeared in the shadows of its almighty father. I, however, was not disappointed. Machine Head basically played it safe with this album, building on the winning formula and produced another masterpiece of brutality, reminding the world that they were still here by kicking and screaming, after three years, not much had changed. The album itself is noticeably darker in mood and sound, with the guitar dirge sounding deeper...but this is merely cosmetic, overall the lyrics and song structure improved greatly, the themes of corruption and abuse still linger and the band still sound the same, not continued by their subsequent releases.
The band line-up were still strong with Logan Mader still providing the usual technical complexities of lead guitar (which became noticeably less technical and complex with the addition of Ahrue Luster) and Dave McClain stepped comfortably into Chris Kontos's shoes providing excellent drumming and general abuse of his kit via the double-kick.
The album opener Ten Ton Hammer bears some resemblance to Davidian with the opening hammering of instruments, but reveals to be both heavier, considerably more sensible lyrically and has a longer and catchier chorus. Machine Head prove a song doesn't need to be fast to be heavy as they blast away with a simplistic sounding riff. Also bears a great chorus to growl along to. A great song and very original, 5/5 from me.
Take My Scars features the world’s most annoying intro, but you get used to it, and is surprisingly catchy live. Every instrument is introduced individually which is ostensibly pleasing, the real battering comes as all the instruments combine. It’s a great heavy song with a good shout along chorus and bearable lyrics. Best part of the song is easily the blistering solo. 5/5
Struck a Nerve and Down to None are the underperformers of the album. Not to say that they are bad, Struck a Nerve is easily the fastest song the Head have ever written and is very brutal, and features one of the many chants Machine Head utilise on the album (thus all the songs are very good live). Down to None is dark and features some good riffs. Lyrics on both songs are inferior. 4.5/5 for both because they are both still very impressive songs.
For those of you searching for a greater show of musicianship look no further than The Frontlines and Spine. Both songs are of the same structure (lead in, two verses, two choruses, big solo, and a chant at the end) and both songs do not disappoint. The Frontlines is my favourite song on the album, second comes Spine surprisingly; I simply love the riffs and lyrics which are so damn catchy. I imagine The Frontlines would be mind-blowing live but sadly they only ever play it at one gig (need info here; what is the gig and where is it). Both songs are great, good lyrics, musicianship (riffs, soloing, drumming, base etc). Not the most original songs, but very good. 5/5 for both.
Bay of Pigs and Blistering are both raging brutal songs. Blistering contains a good riff but stupid lyrics (I don’t care cause I don’t give a ***, it tears a path right through me). Bay of Pigs also contains some substandard lyrics but I do like both songs, very catchy. And as stupid as the lyrics may be they both feature good choruses which are great to shout along to. However, these songs highlight the interesting parts of this album. The structure of the album itself is radically different to Burn My Eyes. The songs and progression of the album is much different to its father, every song is radically different and even though the sound is still definitely Machine Head, both albums share little in common. Each song seems a little rougher round the edges than those on Burn My Eyes; Robb’s vocal style also changes to match the new musical style. I really cannot put my finger on it, the songs don’t necessarily sound tighter than those on Burn My Eyes, but there are times when they are more melodic, more chaotic and in my opinion, the album sounds more grown up in the overall mood. I digress, both Blistering and Bay of Pigs are individually good, the logical progression from songs such as *** it All and Blood for Blood. 4.5/5 for both.
The two token long songs of the album are both individually good, Violate gives us the first insight into Robb’s molestation as a child (thus the more grown up feel of the album, this is a serious song), the song itself has a fairly simplistic sounding riff, but is the A Nation on Fire of the album, the sort of song that builds and builds then breaks and gallops away at breakneck speed. Blood of the Zodiac however, keeps the same tempo throughout the whole song and is more like a reengineered I’m Your God Now, but better. Dave’s drumming is titanic and the lyrics aren’t half bad. Features another chant (with all these chants throughout the album I imagine it would be a very good album live). 5/5 for both songs, simply brilliant.
This album was the logical evolution of the Machine Head sound, and I am a little bit suspicious that the riffs written sound so simplistic because they may have found their previous material hard to perform live…my favourite album from Machine Head though and not to be overlooked, though the masses will prefer their other offerings.
Struck a Nerve (yes I contradict myself, but I do like it)
Ten Ton Hammer
Not as brilliant
Down to None
Bay of Pigs