Recommended Aussie Band:Tamerlan Empire | Sydney Symphonic Black Metal | Listen

Album Reviews : Machine Head – Bloodstone and Diamonds

By on November 11, 2014

Machine-Head-Bloodstone-DiamondsAt this stage, you know if you like Machine Head or not. For the last five years especially, they’ve never really sounded like anything other than “Machine Head”, with some notable highs (like The Blackening) and some avoidable lows (The Evil Locust Swarm Plague or whatever that dementia mess was). Their new album, Bloodstone & Diamonds, is 100% Machine Head, but I’m not entirely sure if I’m cool with that.

Sometimes, they sound like a pastiche of themselves. Especially early on, I couldn’t help but think they continually interrupting the album’s writing process by going, “now quick! Put a Machine Head riff here! You know, a thrashy one! I’ll scream “CROW” over the top of it!” The songs are still fucking solid and chunky overall, but sections sway between being genuinely enjoyable and heavy, and what I think is almost pandering to an expectant audience. All that said, Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones is an early stand out for me, with an opening riff groovier than a 60’s coke binge.

The other contentious point will be Robb Flynn’s vocals. People either seem to love them or hate them, and I find myself consistently in the former camp. I think he’s great. While plenty of people can harshly switch and gently swing from screams to singing and back again, and a few laudable vocalists bother to fucking enunciate when they bellow, only Flynn sounds like Flynn. He’s a great mix between the old school thrash scene he came from and the New Wave Of Heavy Metal Subgenre Acronyms (NWHMSA); screechy without putting on a monster voice, and melodic without shifting tone or losing grit. I really dig his work on this album (especially the raw sounding takes on Game Over), and I can entirely understand why some people hope he chokes on pig shit. But I’ll always take raw and unique over polished and indistinguishable.

As for the album itself, my fuck does it get impressive around the half-way mark. There are heavy riffs and ripping solos throughout, but when I got to the down tuned stoner sludge of Beneath The Silt I almost paused and let my mouth drop open (I didn’t because I was eating a delicious burrito, but if I wasn’t I definitely would have). From that point on, Machine Head take some chances with music I’ve not heard them attempt before. There are epic call-to-arms, a terrifying eulogy to their departed/fired bassist, and even a proper, stand-alone ballad that (while a great song in its own right) I am glad the guys decided to make its own track so I could skip it when I want to get back to circle-pitting in my bedroom.

I don’t think this will make Machine Head any new fans, but those that already like what they’re doing will love it, and probably feel vindicated for sticking around this long. I can definitively say that is my Number One Machine Head album of 2014.

Band: Machine Head
Album: Bloodstone and Diamonds
Year: 2014
Genre: Thrash/Groove Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Origin: California, USA

Tracklist:

  1. Now We Die
  2. Killers & Kings
  3. Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones
  4. Night of Long Knives
  5. Sail Into the Black
  6. Eyes of the Dead
  7. Beneath the Silt
  8. In Comes the Flood
  9. Damage Inside
  10. Game Over
  11. Imaginal Cells (instrumental)
  12. Take Me Through the Fire

About

Mitch is a 26 year old vegan, socialist, atheist, utilitarian, reductionist metalhead, stand up comedian and philosophy major that hates labels. When he isn't being politely ignored at dinner parties he's being politely ignored on comedy nights around the country.