MACHINE HEAD - The Blackening

March 27, 2007, 12 years ago

(Roadrunner)

Mark Gromen

Rating: 7.5

review machine head

MACHINE HEAD - The Blackening

Face it, when was the last time you cared about a Machine Head album? Perhaps the pressure of being heralded as the saviours of heavy metal, in the grunge-dominated early ‘90s gave Rob Flynn an ego that made him feel invincible. Outside of ‘Davidian’ and Burn My Eyes, the Bay Area band has lived the intervening years in a pseudo metal netherworld, inhabited by the likes of Tool and Soulfly. Well, The Blackening seeks to return to conventional metal structures, with not just shouts and staccato riffs. Opening a disc with a ten-plus minute opus is pretty ballsy, yet ‘Clenching The Fists Of Dissent’ works. Same can’t be said of the clean, moaning moments of ‘Beautiful Mourning’. Aptly titled, ‘Aesthetics Of Hate’ returns to vitriolic ways, verbally and aurally. Speaking of hate speech, ‘Slanderous’ is bound to be misunderstood, rolling out every offensive slur in the book before asking why we hate our brother. Sit back and watch the mainstream media castigate the band and label for this one (inaccurately/inappropriately). The first half of ‘Now I Lay Thee Down’ comes too close to Tool for my (dis)taste, before taking a more aggro direction. ‘Halo’ features machine gun riffs, the occasional guitar squelch and plenty of Flynn’s shouts: i.e. Machine Head. The album ends much as it began, with another ten minute track, although ‘A Farewell To Arms’, the first quarter of it, is almost a cappella, a tuneful voice singing atop lone, dissonant, gradually building guitar. Worth checking out.


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