Review Summary: Sell out failure or commercial genius, it's still rock solid Machine Head.
In Machine Head's collection, there is one album in particular that tears fans 50/50. It is The Burning Red. Some call it a masterpiece, some call it a total sell out failure. Me? I am caught in the middle. I first found Machine Head when I was looking in my older brothers tape collection and found Burn My Eyes. I was hooked. Then I head The More Things Changed and thought, "man, they really played the Pantera card out", so when I heard The Burning Red would be more experimental, I got excited. I wasn't necessarily disappointed, but I wasn't blown away ether. Machine Head NEEDED to make this album. They were burned out on the groove oriented stuff. Logan Mader quit, Roadrunner was trying to get them to go more mainstream, and Robb wanted to rap. They picked Ross Robinson to produce it, (Korn, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot) and went to a more "radio-friendly" sound. Doesn't make it bad, but is a bad sign. Also what people don't realize is that this is a concept album. About a person being born in "Desire to Fire" and committing suicide Trent Reznor style in "The Burning Red" Here is my track by track breakdown....
1. Enter the Phoenix - Intro...skip
2. Desire to Fire - Nice opening riff. They use to play it when they opened their shows with Davadian. The verses feature a Biohazard-type rapping. Not Fed Durst or Eminem, but the influences are there. Drags a little in the middle. (3/5)
3. Nothing Left - This song has a little slower start but still packs a nice punch. Again this song drags a little in the middle. (3/5)
4. The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears - This song has a trash style drum opening and is a faster tempo then the other two opening songs. It features a small solo and is overall one of the best on the CD. (4/5)
5. Silver - The first single. Starts slow but don't be fooled. The Chorus speeds things up a little, but nonetheless is one of the softest on the CD. (3/5)
6. From This Day - Second single from the CD. Great opening riff. Robb again does a little rapping style during the verses but this song has a really nice breakdown in the middle. (4/5)
7. Exhale the Vile - One of Machine Head's most underrated songs. Great lyrics, great riff, and great chorus. Although the drumming in the chorus is awfully close to Pantera's "Becoming." (4/5)
8. Message in A Bottle - Machine Head jumped on the "Get rich quick" scheme of the 90s by doing a popular 80s cover. Not bad, but it really doesn't belong on the CD because it didn't make then any more famous. It worked for Limp Bizkit and Coal Chamber, but not Machine Head. (1/5)
9. Devil With A King's Card - The heaviest and angriest track on the CD. It is actually about Logan Mader leaving the band. Has a nice little melodic part in the middle. But it gets pretty repetitive. (3/5)
10. I Defy - This has a punk-meets-metal type feel to it. Has another nice breakdown in the middle, but is still one of the weakest tracks. (2/5)
11. Five - This is one of Robb Flynn's deepest songs. It is about a five year old getting molested and about how it ruined his life. It is a pretty strong track. (4/5)
12. Burning Red - This is about a person killing himself. Has a very "Hurt" atmosphere but is still one of Machine Head's strongest tracks ever. It is easily the strongest track on the CD and is a fantastic way to end it. (5/5)
So all in all, not as bad as people make it out to be, but not groundbreaking or influential. The lyrics are personal and well written, the musicianship isn't as technical as I hoped but is still above average, and the drumming is great as usual.
Stand out tracks:
The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears
Exhale the Vile
Message In A Bottle