Machine Head
Bloodstone and Diamonds


4.5
superb

Review

by LaughingSkull USER (37 Reviews)
November 6th, 2014 | 249 replies


Release Date: 11/01/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: From strength to strength

It is hard to come up with a worthy successor to two critically and publicly acclaimed albums, especially for a band like Machine Head who is already at a late stage in its musical chronology. Perhaps too many original ideas have already been used. Perhaps the respective ages of the band members don't allow for the creative energy needed to write exciting music. But, against the odds, Machine Head deliver again.

What's been interesting about Machine Head lately, and this album in particular, is that, in contrast to most other of the more popular American metal bands who are highly specialised in a certain metal subgenre or movement, Machine Head take a more holistic and universal approach to songs. Bloodstone & Diamonds has allusions to the band's debut Burn My Eyes, with its implementation of a fast, thrashy tempo, and industrial-sounding natural harmonics on Killers & Kings. The track Beneath the Silt is pure Pantera worship. Other tracks feature low-string pedalling interspersed with melodic bursts on the higher strings, producing a melancholy that is the hallmark of melodic death metal. The guitarwork in Eyes of the Dead reaches levels of near Baroque-sque ornamentation.
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Vocally, Robb Flynn confidently shifts gears between pissed off thrash barks, soft crooning, and melodramatic soars. And each of these dabs into distinct musical territories are successfully and precisely executed. Clearly, Machine Head knew what they were doing, and this variation not only represents the musical versatility that the band possesses, but also serves to avoid the trap of genrification which turned many promising bands into one-trick ponies (Lamb of God, anyone"). Ultimately, Machine Head have founded their very own mould of metal, and they dwell in it with confidence.

The variety I mentioned could have easily become counterproductive and diluted the record, but Bloodstone & Diamonds manages to retain a high degree of focus throughout its 12 songs. The aimlessness and meandering that blighted The Blackening have been rerouted and channelled into a more meaningful purpose. There are no 9-10 minute songs here, but even the ones that exceed average lengths don't fall in a position where they overstay their welcome. On the contrary, said songs manage to achieve a certain grandeur and "epic" feel which few modern metal bands have the capability to grasp without crossing into prentiousness.

There are a few minor flaws which are actually pretty crucial, considering that their avoidance could have turned this album into another classic. The first is the overproduciton in some parts. Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel have shown in the past that they are men who love to mix a wide variety of guitar effects. However, at some points these effects are abused and overused, leading to a detached sound that loses its impact and immediacy. Sometimes it works and fits well with the aforementioned desire for a more theatrical sound. In a few places, however, it doesn't serve the music well. Unto the Locust got its epic feel through composition and being unassuming. On Bloodstone & Diamonds, the band simply tried too hard here and there, leading to overproduction.

The second flaw is the presence of Damage Inside, which is just a poor track, a filler that is almost like an unpleasant reminder of the brief trespass into nu-metal territory that was Supercharger.
And finally, the final song, Take Me Through the Fire, albeit good, just doesn't serve as a satisfying closer to the album, leaving me a bit unfulfilled as a listener. The album could have been slightly restructured, so that the buildup that happened throughout its beginning and midpoints found a good resolution, but it feels instead like the last numbers on the album are its weakest.

Still, Bloodstone & Diamonds is a logical and satisfying addition to the Machine Head catalog, and solidify the band as the flagship of modern American metal: a status which the band has actively sought and deservedly achieved with its clever string of recent albums.

Recommended tracks
- Killers and Kings - for harkening back to Vio-lence and Burn My Eyes days
- Night of Long Knives - for its huge chorus and overwhelming melodies, juxtaposed with its intense thrash parts
- Eyes of the Dead - for being the best song on the album
- In Comes the Flood - for being unashamedly over-the-top
- Game Over - for its anger and intensity, as well as lightening up a bit compared to the seriousness of the rest of the album



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user ratings (383)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
lostforwords (3.5)
While it initially comes off as too forced and pretentious, "Bloodstone and Diamonds" is ultimately ...

taylormemer (3)
...



Comments:Add a Comment 
LaughingSkull
November 6th 2014


546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album releases tomorrow in Europe, but the band already put an official full stream of it on its youtube channel, so I figured it won't be a sin if I posted a review early. I hope the admin team can understand.

Titan
November 6th 2014


18223 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

i bet this sucks

cmaitland421
November 6th 2014


407 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Eyes of the Dead is a fucking jam.

thacoconut94
November 6th 2014


1497 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Desperate to hear this bad boy, nice review I like the way you described your favourite songs

YUJOS
November 6th 2014


1006 Comments


lol 4.5

IAMLEGION
November 6th 2014


257 Comments


Nice review but how did you not mention 'Sail into the Black'??? Song rocks my face off near the end! Now I'm just waiting for the 1.5 review from some terrible metal elitist who only listens to Isis or some shit.

LaughingSkull
November 6th 2014


546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^ Sail into the Black is a bit too depressing for my current mood. It's still among the strong tracks for sure, though.

VisionsFromTheDarkSide
November 6th 2014


2352 Comments


"Nice review but how did you not mention 'Sail into the Black'??? Song rocks my face off near the end! Now I'm just waiting for the 1.5 review from some terrible metal elitist who only listens to Isis or some shit."

Wow Isis so elite

someguest
November 6th 2014


29227 Comments


This band stinks and they're played all the fucking time on Liquid Metal.

Ugh.

TrephineArtist
November 6th 2014


243 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great band, long time fan and I can't wait to get my CD in a few days, only heard K&K and Now we die so far.



Nice review btw (although I think Supercharger has some killer songs!)

LaughingSkull
November 6th 2014


546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^ the band put the full album stream on their youtube channel. Check it out if you can't wait for the cd.

tempest--
November 6th 2014


20626 Comments


Does this album have an 8 minute song that is really heavy when it suddenly cuts to acoustic then back to heavy??

Wizard
November 6th 2014


20156 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

This band stinks and they're played all the fucking time on Liquid Metal.



Liquid Metal is a terrible, terrible radio station.



And clean up your paragraphs. The review is so unabashedly fanboyish towards the biggest comfort zone band. I swear, if they play those same two natural harmonic notations on the next record, I'm going to fucking lose my mind.





someguest
November 6th 2014


29227 Comments


I knew you'd agree with me before I even read your post, Wizard.

These guys are the epitome of bland, boring metal. It's not even fun like Lamb of God. It's just an overall painful listening experience.

VisionsFromTheDarkSide
November 6th 2014


2352 Comments


Good review btw

Wizard
November 6th 2014


20156 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Hahahaha you know it brother. However, I do have a soft spot for their first two records and The Blackening because we all need a few generic bands in our lives to entertain us when our minds need something groovy. I do give them props for rising above their shat nu-metal albums and coming up with something more metal. For the most part though, Rob Flynn is a broken record who repeats past success and totally throws the whole kitchen sink in when he writes string sections/ clean bridges and awkwardly intermingles them within his brand of tough-guy metal.

emester
November 6th 2014


8187 Comments


Liquid Metal is a terrible, terrible radio station. [2]

Tunaboy45
November 7th 2014


16039 Comments


Great review, pos. Definitely need to give this a listen.

omgraptors
November 7th 2014


843 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

When "Unto the Locust" came out it didn't leave a mark at all. It was so short. It sounded like rushed album with bland song structure.



Bloodstones is definitely not The Blackening but its damn better than Unto the Locust.

It's more meaty, more diverse, more interesting. It's like they've brought the palate of textures and vibes from all their previous work.

I'm having great fun with this record. Songs are not perfect but are more memorable than the lackluster Unto the Locust.

LaughingSkull
November 7th 2014


546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^ well, I'm one of those people that would place Unto the Locust in the band's top 3. Your description of Unto the Locust sounds more attributable to The Blackening. Now THAT was an album that sounded like the same exact bland idea being repeated over and over.



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