Released: Sep 23, 2011
Genre: Groove Metal, Thrash Metal
Label: Roadrunner Records
Number Of Tracks: 7
Machine Head's seventh studio album, "Unto The Locust", is an impressive effort that shows that the NWOAHM still has something to say. The entire album is filled with fast guitar work and some powerful riffs.
Unto The Locust
UG Team, on september 27, 2011 6 of 8 people found this review helpful
Sound: The standard edition of the album has 7 tracks, but the deluxe collector's edition has 10 tracks, and this is the copy that I have and am reviewing. Machine Head began working on "Unto The Locust" in late 2010, and had completed the album and released the "advance mix" of the single "Locust" in June 2011. "Unto The Locust" is releasing 4 years after its predecessor and normally you don't see truly great albums being released this far apart with nothing in between, but Machine Head has done exactly that.
The entire album was produced and mixed by Robb Flynn (the vocalist) and he did an amazing job. The album was recorded in Jingletown Studios in Oakland, California, which is owned by the band Green Day. Machine Head's previous release in 2007, "The Blackening", raised the bar for Machine Head and they keep meeting and exceeding expectations. While many metal bands have sunk deeper and deeper in sub-genres, Machine Head has stayed a shining example of plain old American Heavy Metal.
The guitars are heavy, fast and tight throughout the album with some great riffs. The drums are powerful and well mixed. There are interesting instrumental interludes woven throughout the songs of the album. The lyrics, at times, were a little heavier than they may have needed to be for the song, but not by much. I personally like screaming and clean vocals but am not a fan of growled vocals. There are some growled vocals on the album, but tastefully done and it does seem like it is done as a vehicle for the song instead of just in name of being brutal and heavy. This is an album to listen to while working out or doing something where you want to get pumped up. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics from "Unto The Locust" are somewhat of a heavy metal cliché, building off of an apocalyptic blight of locusts, but they fit so well with the music. I normally don't enjoy metal lyrics that are too "cliché" but I have to give a "get out of jail free card" to Machine Head on this one. Robb Flynn's voice is exactly what each song requires which Robb shows off with a surprising range between clean, screamed and growled vocals throughout the album. The vocal deliveries that probably stand out the most to me are the vocals exhibited throughout "I Am Hell (Sonata In C#)" and the clean vocals on the acoustic version of "Darkness Within". // 8
Overall Impression: My favorite tracks on the album would have to be "Locust", "This Is The End", "Darkness Within", "Who We Are" and "I Am Hell (Sonata In C#)" and there are only 7 tracks on the standard edition of the album. I love the bonus tracks as well "The Sentinel", which is a Judas Priest cover, "Witch Hunt", which is a Rush cover, and an acoustic version of "Darkness Within". I think I may like the acoustic version of "Darkness Within" better than the regular version. Overall, I am very pleased with this album and with Machine Head.
"Unto The Locust" is very probably going to be on my top 5 list for albums released in 2011. While I haven't historically been a HUGE Machine Head fan, I've always been conscious of them at least peripherally and enjoyed their music in passing. When "The Blackening" was released in 2007 I paid a little more attention to them, and with the release of "Unto The Locust" I am officially a fan. This is solid, well-made heavy metal at its finest. You have solid songwriting, solid guitar and drums, solid execution of lyrics, great riffs (many of which sound awesomely epic). Now, I just have to go back and listen to Machine Head's previous albums again. // 8
Unto The Locust
EpiExplorer, on september 27, 2011 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: When a band comes to a certain age, they usually slow down, run dry and let that appalling anti-idea of "musical evolution" come into its own as their sound isn't quite as popular as it was 5 minutes ago. This can be seen in many bands with a career of more than 10 years, where things they tried didn't go down well, hence they go down as well as a brick from an aeroplane or they settle for being not quite as good as they were before.
Machine Head are not one of those bands. Despite being around for a good 15+ years, Machine Head have not slowed down, given up or shown any signs of stopping at all. But where they show determination, they also show a will to change with the times, even if the outcome seems risky. In the early 90's, southern groove was all the rage, in the early 2000's, it was nu-metal and hockey jerseys and post 2003, its all Americanized metalcore. What Machine Head do is take influence from the biggest but most respectable musicians in these trends and then adopt it into their own sound, but never quite becoming a part of any scene (although they're universally recognized as "groove metal", a term which means f--k all, as groove in metal can be applied to practically every band) albeit about 2 years behind everyone else.
But anyway, 2007's "The Blackening" showed a distinct shift from groovy groove metal to thrashy, melodic and intense, sometimes proggy, er, groove metal. I guess it surprised everyone that they won several "Album of the year" awards and toured their bums off for 4 years after. Judging by the ''''single'''' they released (Simply named "Locust"), they kept the sound mostly intact with a little revisit to their roots. Okay, so its lacking any real urgency from the "Blackening", but the groove, the signature chorus-dubbed soft bridge and distinctive sound of Rob Flynn's raspy vocals are all there.
No, a good chunk of the album is quite gear change up. The opening track, "I Am Hell (Sonata In C#)", starts in a similar manner to "Clenching The Fists Of Dissent", starting with a "choir" of sorts of Rob Flynn's layered vocals, which is perhaps one of most deceiving moments in written music. It continues to a slow triplet groove which at first doesn't seem that heavy, but then WOOSH, and all this sound comes out of nowhere, with Rob Flynn screaming "I am DEATH" and similar phrases before the entire band start righteously pounding your face in with riff after riff and riff.
"Be Still And Know" has a vibe carried over from "The Blackening" (think "Now I Lay Thee Down") with a lot of the lead guitar being beautifully harmonized tapping leads mixed with a stonking great big 6/4 groove flowing throughout the song. I think a description of the song with just typed words doesn't quite work, but it shows a bigger connection between Machine Head's "genre-flow".
But at song 4, you can tell they've taken these newer influences, turned them into sew-on patches and then very obviously put them on extra long sleeves for everyone to see.
"This Is The End" is perhaps the least Machine Head-like song ever. Starting off with a very simplistic acoustic passage isn't exactly the headturner I'm pointing out, but its everything else to do with the song. What Machine Head have actually done is clone an entire track from any given Killswitch Engage album and just overdubbed Robb Flynn's vocals. I'm being serious. It may be one of the better songs from a KSE album, but its NOT a Machine Head song, and if they're trying to "progress" with their sound, they're 4 years too late (Don't take this out of context as a plagiarism thing, its just how the song sounds).
Now I wont be all down-playish and say the album falls off the cliff but its balancing so finely on the edge between "new direction" and "everyone else's same old same old" that you'd be forgiven for thinking its a different band. "The Darkness Within" starts off like bloody Foo Fighters, for instance, but really tries hard to bring it all back again, if only just succeeding with a well placed solo.
So you've probably noticed this is closer to a "track-by-track" thing. Well, the album is only 7 songs long, no song under 5 and a half minutes and Machine Head write songs to stand out individually (well, only recently, but you get the idea). Overall, of those 7 songs, 2 of them are fairly dodgy ("This Is The End", "Locust") in that they just let the album down so badly when you think about it, not because they're dodgy (Both have some excellent moments in them), but because it totally destroys Machine Head's direction with "The Blackening": It was all about thrash epics crossed with ballads and undoubtedly colossal moments of emotion ("Now I Lay Thee Down", the almighty "Halo" etc.) with a new energy found from the after-burn of "Ashes Of Empires". But now their "Blackening" tour energy is being used on all the ideas they've gained from a scene they only just woke up to, and so it just fails to get to the level of the "Blackening" by shunning a chunk of their "Machine Head-ness". // 7
Lyrics: Robb Flynn is a good example of how a musician progresses. The stuff all the way back from "Burn My Eyes" is just incomparable to his vocal and instrumental abilities of today. On "UTL", he brings back his recognizable "raspy growly" thing mixed with the high end vocals that he finally got the grasp of on "The Blackening". But keeping in line with the "newer" influence of the songs, the growly things are more prominent than before and heavily layered (sometimes with an actual death growl added in) for sonic impact. The high cleans, well... They've had a bit of a back seat. Not only do they not feature as much on the album, but he sticks relatively close to the highest pitch his voice can reach, making them sound strained and with a loss of focus and clarity. That said, he keeps the flow of the album as fluid as it can be with the material they've written.
Lyrically, I can only recall that the main focus of the album is the band themselves. Unlike on "The Blackening", where every song had 5 page essays dedicated to what the lyrical themes were, "UTL" doesn't have much to go by, with only "The Darkness Within" and "Who We Are" having clear, defining lyrics, which focus on the progression of the band until this point. As for delivery, there's not much to fault Robb Flynn for, aside from the sometimes strenuous high-end cleans and so that keeps it at a plus. // 8
Overall Impression: Well, looking over the stuff I've written, maybe I've missed the point. After an album like the almighty "Blackening", where can you go? But still, dropping some of their recognized traits off the album and adding in too much of a sound that's not their own hasn't quite worked, its not so much progression as it is, annoyingly so, "musical evolution".
Songs to look out for: "I Am Hell", "Be Still And Know", "Locust" (only if y'all wanted a single and did NOT say f--k that), "Pearls For Swine", "Who We Are". // 7
Unto The Locust
Argonaut, on september 27, 2011 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: Forget everything that has ever been written or said about Machine Head because this is a brand new chapter. The band came into a revival stage in 2003 after dabbling in the murky arts of Nu-Metal for nearly a decade. "Through The Ashes Of Empires" and its follow up, 2007's "The Blackening" established Machine Head as major players in the modern metal scene.
After touring "The Blackening" for over 4 years, the lords of the riff re-entered the studio with the mammoth task of attempting to top a record that was critically lauded and placed upon the untouchable-pedestal that exists in the minds of metalheads. The Advance Mix release "Locust" (also included in the album) divided opinion instantly, with a departure from the rawness of such songs as "Aesthetics Of Hate". The distinct harmonies and complex riffs which had defined their last album were still present, but there were notable changes to the production values.
However, when it comes to crunch time, there will be very few divisions over the content of the rest of the album. Amazing riffs spew forth from Phil Demmel and Robb Flynn, and the drumming effort from Dave McLain is earth-shattering. Of particular note is the opener "I Am Hell (Sonata In C Sharp)" an absolute masterpiece. Deeply chilling, and heavy as your average tower block, "I Am Hell..." is a sprawling epic, alternating between brutal blastbeats, mind bending leads and melodies so creepy they'll haunt your nightmares.
If you're looking for proof that Machine Head are still gods of the six string however, look no further than "Be Still And Know" destined to be added to the live setlist. The opening guitar harmony alone is enough to make a guitarist drool all over his headstock. But this is just an example. Such moments are found throughout the album.
The only song that does not seem to fit is "Who We Are", a great song on its own. However, its anthemic, anxty message seems to be lost amongst the sheer power of the other great songs that inhabit this record. This appears to be harking back to the "call to arms" sentiment of "The Blackening". // 8
Lyrics: One of the most divisive points of the advance single "Locust" were the vocals. After covering Iron Maiden's "Hallowed Be Thy Name" Robb Flynn went into training with renowned vocal coach Melissa Cross, who allowed the frontman to greatly expand his vocal range. Many fans compared the new Robb to Trivium frontman Matt Heafy, prompting much heated discussion amongst forum-fags everywhere.
The record does see more of the same, but the Machine Head singer grabs this new style by the balls, and makes it his own. "This Is The End" is evidence of this dramatic improvement, as Flynn's vocal hooks are catchier that Jupiter's gravitational pull while still retaining their edge.
One major criticism of "The Blackening" was that the lyrics were often muddied by rage voice. No such problems here. The new melodic singing and clearer diction serves to highlight the bands lyrical prowess. One song stands out above the others, "Darkness Within" is an ode to the power of music and its ability to help us carry on when we are struggling with life, a statement that we all can agree with. // 9
Overall Impression: Before writing this record Machine Head were standing at the bottom of a mountain with a very difficult ascent ahead of them. Topping the "The Blackening" was no mean feat, but Machine Head have given it their best shot and succeeded. The 'Head have shown there true ingenuity and desire to produce music of an excellent quality, blowing the minds of fans everywhere. This isn't absolutely perfect but it is certainly pretty damn close. // 9
Unto The Locust
Ryanthestone, on september 28, 2011 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: Machine Head doesn't disappoint with their seventh studio album "Unto The Locust" by progressing musically while still keeping their signature low and heavy sound. Overall "Unto The Locust" is in general faster than their albums before and they incorporate more of a melodic feel with even a slight touch of neoclassical sound. The album is very well mixed with a prominent powerful sound.
01. "I Am Hell": The album opens with arguably one of Machine Head's heaviest songs yet. The song screams "neoclassical" with a intro completely comprised of Rob Flynn's vocals layered in a Latin chant. The song explodes into a section of sheer heaviness that consists of layered vocals before going into a balls to the wall thrash metal with Rob barking mercilessly about a female arsonist fueled by passion. After several insane solos, the song breaks down into a soft interlude played on the classical guitar, one of my favorite endings on the CD. Don't miss this song.
02. "Be Still And Know": This song opens up with a very Iron Maiden like lead guitar lick that showcases how melodically driven the album as a whole is. the song features some very varied vocal ranges while remaining very guitar driven. The verse riffs have a very cool Lamb Of God styled groove to them,and the song wouldn't be complete without the very intricate dual guitar solos toward the end.
03. "Locust": The title track has everything that any heavy metal fan would want. This seven and a half minute epic builds up from a slow cleanly strummed riff into a monster of a song that doesn't come short in heavy riffs and hooks that will be stuck in your head for days. The guitar solo battle in the middle is a huge highlight of the song and and there are very clear influences from early Kirk Hammet and Dave Mustain.
04. "This Is The End": The fastest song on the album opens with another classical guitar lick. The song showcases lightning fast tremolo picking and ferocious drumming by Dave McClain. It has a slight metalcore feel to it, and showcases how well all the instruments of the band can work so well together.
05. "Darkness Within": An instant classic, this song incorporates some of the finest lyrics written by Rob to date:
"Because God is in these clef and tone,
salvation is found alone,
Haunted by its melody,
Music, it will set you free."
Though the song may be off putting to pure thrash fans, the song has a haunting feel to it. It is a very hard song to put into words, but it is the most emotional song on the album, and is very vocal driven.
06. "Pearls Before The Swine": A very complex and less catchy song on the album, "Pearls Before The Swine" is very rhythm driven and has a darker vibe to it. The song progresses riff by riff before ending with an insanely heavy guitar lick. An overall solid song, but I find it slightly monotonous.
07. "Who We Are": The last song opens with a choir comprised of the bands offspring singing pretty badly off key. A very anthem-y song, it has a lot of cool guitar parts and a hell of an epic ending, but lacks anything that the band hasn't had yet. // 9
Lyrics: Rob Flynn brings amazing vocals to the table with some of his best written lyrics yet and a lot of vocal maturity and increased range. The lyrics in the songs "I Am Hell" and "Darkness Within" are especially great. His raw anger fits perfectly with the lyrics and the instruments on every song. If you are unfamiliar with Robs vocals, the are much more emotional rather than distorted, and he uses a lot of clean singing and growling. In essence, he sounds like a pissed off guy screaming in your ear rather than Satan, which really separates him from a lot of other modern metal vocalists. His singing is very well produced and almost always layered, particularly in this album. // 10
Overall Impression: "Unto The Locust" is just as good as, if not better than, their previous album "The Blackening". The complexity, intricacy, and skill it takes to write the album isn't something that too many bands possess today. An instant classic.
+Every instrument shines, insane solos, thundering drumming, heavy and solid rhythm section, emotional vocals
+Very dynamic, will be heavy as hell one second and chillingly calm the next without interrupting the flow
+Complex, yet catchy, a very hard combination to pull off
+Progresses from their last album while keeping true to their sound
-The last two songs could be better
-the bonus tracks aren't particularly good. // 9
Unto The Locust
Battman1993, on october 05, 2011 1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: A couple of years ago, I was sitting in history class with my friends and goofing around. One of my friends turned on his iPod and cued up a song. After listening to about 5 minutes, I asked him "what song is and who the f--k is this band?" When he told me the song was called "Halo" and was a band called Machine Head, I immediately looked up Machine Head on Youtube while in my study hall period. I began listening to their album "The Blackening", and my mind was blown. After hearing all of that AMAZING album, I immediately placed Machine Head on a bada-s metal pedestal in my blown mind. Fast foward a couple of years, when I heard news that we were getting a NEW MACHINE F--KING HEAD ALBUM in September of 2011, I was literally panting and drooling waiting for it to come out. When I heard the new song "Locust" that was previously released as a promotional song, I was EVEN more excited. Now, last week, Machine F--king Head finally dropped their new album "Unto The Locust" (which I will simply refer to as Locust from now on) on the masses. I know most people believe that "The Blackening" was MFH's masterpiece (myself included), but "Unto The Locust" is very, very close to taking that title. The album is (slightly) lighter than "The Blackening" due mainly to the fact that MH decided to go back to some of their early influences, and The Blackening was such an angry album lyrically that it HAD to be that crushingly heavy. That being said, "UTL" is still very heavy. Like "The Blackening"'s opening track "Clenching The Fists Of Dissent", "Locust"'s opening track "I Am Hell" has a vocal intro that sounds operatic and slightly Middle East-ish. That intro is the first part of "I Am Hell", "Sangre Sani". The second part "I Am Hell" kicks into a heavy, plodding riff which has frontman Robb Flynn's decent attempt at death-metal vocals. The final part of IAH is Ashes To The Sky, which is mind-numbingly fast (betcha you can't play this Dragonforce) and of course features blinding guitar shredding. From that 8 minute long aural assault, we move on to "Be Still & Know". This sounds like trademark MH, with an amazing riff and blistering guitar leads with Robb going back to his trademark roar mixed with melodic singing. After 5 plus minutes of that tasty ditty (it's actually the SHORTEST song on "UTL"), our ears are greeted in the title track by a clean guitar part that sounds like it could've come from Metallica.
However, in MH fashion, the intro builds until Dave McClain comes in and commits felony battery on his drum kit (in an awesome way) and we get a melodic guitar bit (that is the chorus guitar part) that lasts about 20 seconds until we are first exposed to THAT RIFF. I emphasize it b/c it's probably the BEST guitar riff you will hear all year. It's a repeating part that I cannot picture a human being playing, yet somehow Flynn and his guitar cohort Phil Demmel pull off. The vocals sound a tad different than usual, with Robb adapting a layered gruff singing style that lies somewhere between his roar and clean singing. After 4 minutes or so, we get the solos. The first part sounds a tiny bit like James Hetfield's solo in "Master Of Puppets", but I won't complain as I've heard many solos copy that "Master Of Puppets" bit. Towards the end, we get a couple of building-leveling breakdowns. It's a masterpiece title track, simply said.
Track 4 "This Is The End" isn't the best track on the album, but it's still great. And now, say hello to Track 5, "Darkness Within". The first couple of minutes of this song are Robb and an acoustic guitar, with an electric guitar added after the first chorus. Robb sings cleanly throughout "Darkness Within", which is a refreshing change of pace on "UTL". "Pearls Before The Swine" is a track that sounds like a leftover from "The Blackening" that fits in perfectly on "UTL". Finally, in the last track "Who We Are", a children's choir leads us into the epic closer we all expected. Robb's singing is again semi-melodic. Overall, "Unto The Locust" is INSANELY good. // 9
Lyrics: Robb Flynn. Ah, who doesn't have mad respect for this man? He writes mostly awesome lyrics, and can sing with the best of them. His heavy voice, which is basically a hardcore roar, is amazing because I can actually understand what the hell he is saying. On "UTL", he sings about a female arsonist in "I Am Hell", uses locusts as a metaphor for bad people in the title track, and belts out several inspirtational rallying cries in tunes such as "Be Still & Know" and "Who We Are". "Pearls Before The Swine" is a rebuke of religion, I think. "Darkness Within" however gets the best lyrics OF THE YEAR award. The lyrics chronicles Robb's life struggles and how music has been his rock whereas other people rely on religion. Overall, "UTL"'s lyrics don't match the awesomeness of the lyrics on "The Blackening", but they're still better than 95% of what other metal bands will give you. // 8
Overall Impression: "Unto The Locust" only compares to Machine Head themselves. After those nu-metal album disasters, Machine Head has roared right to where they belong, as kings of the heavy metal hill. "Unto The Locust" is the second-best album MFH has produced IMO right below "The Blackening". The most impressive songs on "UTL" is every song, because all seven epics have several elements that mindf--k my ears in an awesome way. I love everything except for one minor gripe. I hate that there are only 7 tracks. I wish MFH had given us two or three more songs. I know every song on "UTL" is 5 minutes or longer but "UTL" feels short to me. If it were lost/stolen, I would shake the hand of the genius that stole it and if it were lost, I would go to the ends of the Earth to get a new copy. Simply put, Machine Head, along with Lamb Of God and Mastodon, will always get positive reviews from me because I know even before hearing their new albums that it will always be great. Machine Head, along with the aforementioned bands, are the instruction manual for how heavy metal SHOULD be written and played. I believe that Machine Head has replaced Metallica as the best thrash metal band because let's be honest, Metallica's last few releases have STUNK. In fact, Machine Head should call their next album "Memo To Metallica: How To Still Create An Amazing Heavy Metal Album". // 9
Unto The Locust
slipknot836, on october 06, 2011 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: This album's sound all in all is a clear reminder to Machine Head's "The Blackening" that won album of the decade and most definitely deserved it for their efforts.
machine Head aren't my favourite band but from the past three albums that the band have produced, it has been a real eye opener to the music writing skill and capability this band has.
01. "I Am Hell (Sonata In C#)": So as this song is in three separate parts: "Sangre Sani (Blood Saint)", "I Am Hell" & "Ashes To The Sky".
Part 1: I think it's quite a strange intro to the album but it's a strange, eerie kind of intro that surprises the listener. But when the Muted, gallop type, distorted guitar part comes in, it's the kind of thing that reminds you that "This is Machine Head" (No "Sparta" joke intended xD)
Part 2: As McClain kicks in to "I Am Hell", you begin to realise that the song is not a slow song as you would have interpreted from the first part but it has quickly become an over paced, speedy metal track. When the song reaches 2:23, personally I think McClain could have picked a better, cleaner sounding cymbal to smash up, but others might approve to what is already done. This part being the main bridge in the three parter, it really does keep the entire song together as a whole
Part 3: When the song jumps from the breakdown in I am Hell to the acoustic interlude in "Ashes To The Sky", you instantly feel another breakdown about to come in and you can hear the clarity in the guitar. I think Phil and Robb have really done well on this song with guitar structuring and intellect they have pulled out yet again.
02. "Be Still And Know": It's not my favourite song from the album but it's not bad, but I must say the guitar violining in the background of the intro must be one of Machine.
03. "Locust": Pretty much being the album title, it gives the album the good name it deserves. I love the little drum solo McClain does when bridging the intro to the main riff. I also think the little bass solo in the main riff is pretty sweet too. This song varies in a lot of different instrument techniques. If a band was to cover this song, I think it would help improve the bands part switching capability. I also think all of the different solos would be fun to perform as a band.
04. "This Is The End": I love the Acoustic intro to this song. It's really welcoming and then the electric guitar harmonies fading in really textures the song. Then as the drums kick in and the tremolo picking riff begins it really defines the title, "This Is The End".
05. "Darkness Within": The acoustic intro, yet again gives the song real depth and feeling, and lyrically, this song is amazing. All in all, amazing through and through. A Machine Head tune to remember.
06. "Pearls Before The Swine": I'm not too keen on this song, but if I'm in a mood where I want to hurt someone and I'm pissed off, it's the right song, maybe not lyrically but definitely riff wise.
07. "Who We Are": A song that gives me the feeling it's a song dedicated to the fans to stay true and not to change for anyone regardless of what they want. A really nice intro and I love how Flynn kicks in with the aggressive vocals to make the song a little more Machineyer. // 9
Lyrics: I Don't really have much to say about each individual songs lyrics... Other than they're awesome as per usual. I think it's brilliant how Robb asked his kids to sing for the intro to "Who We Are". Overall lyrics wise, I love everything about this album. The structure of the complex words is outstanding. // 9
Overall Impression: If you haven't bought this album yet, what are you waiting for? A Machine Head album to remember and love.
Any Machine Head fan SHOULD instantly fall in love with this album, but if you don't find it suits your taste to the old stuff then it's your personal opinion really. But in my opinion, it's a must have from MH. // 9
Unto The Locust
machineheadmf, on july 19, 2013 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Machine Head are a band that has been part of the Metal scene since roughly from the mid-'90s. Emerging through the era where Pop-Rock had started to spring up, Grunge was dying out, British Indie bands took the world by force and Alternative Rock would eventually come along to take over the Rock scene, Metal pretty much seemed dead in the water. Metallica had suddenly emerged into a world wide phenomenon with their more "radio friendly" studio releases "The Black Album," "Load" and "Reload," Iron Maiden released the fantastic "Fear of the Dark" before Bruce Dickinson decided to go focus more on his solo career thus being replaced by Blaze Bayley who vocalized for the lesser albums "The X Factor" and "Virtual XI" and Black Sabbath stopped releasing studio albums by '95. So with some of the biggest names in Metal history seemingly getting buried alive by fans and critics alike, it was up to bands such as Pantera, Cannibal Corpse, Slayer, Megadeth and, of course, Machine Head to keep Metal alive.
Machine Head released their first studio effort back in 1995 entitled "Burn My Eyes." This was an album that seemed like Pantera had tried to get even more ferocious than before whilst on some form of drugs. But yet it was an album that was shoved deep within the ground by the mainstream media. Fortunately for the band, the Metal community spotted this little gem and Machine Head started to gain a following, getting to tour with Slayer on their "Divine Intourvention" Tour. "Burn My Eyes" was an album that was able to be heavy, fast and rather powerful in a way that very few bands had done before hand. With songs such as "Davidian," "Old" and "Blood for Blood," Machine Head proved to people that Metal wasn't going to just stand there and die out just yet. Two years after the release of "Burn My Eyes," the band released their second studio effort entitled "The More Things Change." This again showcased Machine Head's ability to create blisteringly heavy songs and was seen as a leap forward for the band.
With the stunning opener "Ten Ton Hammer," fans already knew what was to come from the album. The album stormed through with songs such as "Bay of Pigs," "Down to None" and "Blood of the Zodiac." By the time the band went on to release their third studio album, 1999's "The Burning Red," they already had quite a huge following in the Metal scene and had established a good name for themselves. So when the band released the more riskier venture that was "The Burning Red," fans didn't quite know what to think. Some loved the album and saw it as a way of Machine Head maturing in their sound whereas others were rather disappointed by the bands effort. None the less, the band still managed to release, for the most part, a strong and rather solid album. With a rather pleasing opener "Enter the Phoenix/Desire to Fire," Robb Flynn was able to showcase a more varied, less harsh, style of vocals. The riffs, although not as heavy as those of the previous records, were still solid and the album featured some fan favourites such as "From This Day" and "The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears" whilst still hosting a few lesser appreciated gems such as "Nothing Left," "Exhale the Vile" and "Devil With the Kings Card."
By the time the early 2000's arrived, Machine Head had established themselves as quite the force to be reckoned with. Loved or maybe loathed, the band seemed to help maintain what Metal was all about. But when fans found out about the band releasing a fourth studio album, they seemed rather fearful of not knowing what to expect next from the band. As it turned out, Machine Head AGAIN decided to experiment, this time with the latest Metal craze to hit the scene: Nu Metal. "Supercharger," released in 2001, was an album that either drew in new fans or made the faithful ones turn their backs on the band. Considered as the bands worst album by many alike, it is actually quite the under-rated album. Although it is given the tag of "Nu Metal," it isn't something that is in vain of Limp Bizkit. In actual fact, the album still feels rather Machine Head, just with added rapping. Their are some pretty heavy riffs in the album and stuff which shows Robb's vocal range improving yet again.
The album begins with the intro track "Declaration" which moves straight into the heaviest song on the album, "Bulldozer." A song that is heavy and features some excellent riffing, some damn fine drums and some rather good vocals, "Bulldozer" is considered as the most faithful Machine Head song on the album. But yet the album boasts a lot of gems such as "White Knuckle Blackout!", "American High" and "Trephination." Ultimately an album that is under-appreciated, "Supercharger" remains as the apparent weak link in Machine Head's back catalogue. Another two years passed and, in 2003, Machine Head dropped news of their new album. With fans feeling sceptical, it came as a relief when it turned out that their fifth studio effort was something that went straight back to the Metal basics. "Through the Ashes of Empires" was considered Machine Head's return to form. An album that was beautifully heavy and rather well crafted, it also started to boast Machine Head's potential. An album that truly excelled musically, the album boasted more precise and strategically placed drumming by Dave McClain, some impressive bass work by Adam Duce, heavy yet beautiful riffs from Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel, excelled vocalization skills from Flynn and even a solo or two.
This is also an album that featured one or two "ballads" of sorts. This was something that MH hadn't really explored (although the song "Message in a Bottle" from off "The Burning Red" is a rather soft song) and was something they had done well. "Through the Ashes of Empires" kicked off with the only song that was made into a single, "Imperium." Although the song was a single it was by no means radio-friendly. A song that was well crafted, it was blisteringly quick, aggressive and filled with something that became the staple for Machine Head's next studio effort. "Imperium" featured fast riffs, heavy riffs and even an intro that kept building until the song exploded into riff laden heaven. The drumming in the song was precise, heavy and fast with some fast and yet impressive bass work. The song would later become a staple at Machine Head gigs. "...Empires" never seemed to give in after the opener and is filled with great songs like "Elegy," "Vim" and "Left Unfinished." With the album a great success for the band and with the older fans finally having some faith restored in them, Machine Head seemed at the top of their game. It took four long years for fans to get a new album off Machine Head but, in 2007, Machine Head finally released their sixth studio album, "The Blackening." "The Blackening" took the Metal world by complete surprise. For the most part, Machine Head seemed like a poor mans version of Pantera or Metallica.
The four years it took to write the new record truly paid off. With old fans rejoicing and new fans mind blown, "The Blackening" was conceived as a Metal classic. An album that was blisteringly fast, insanely heavy and down right stunning, "The Blackening" showed the Metal world that Thrash Metal can still be done to perfection. Machine Head's answer to Metallica's "Master of Puppets," Slayer's "Reign in Blood," Anthrax's "Among The Living" or Megadeth's "Rust in Piece," "The Blackening" boasted a newly improved vocal performance by Robb featuring pure aggression and stunning cleans, blitzkrieg styled drumming for McClain, fast and impressive bass work from Duce, fast, aggressive and beautiful riffing from Demmel and Flynn and excellent solo duals between Flynn and Demmel. The album kicked off with the impressive "Clenching the Fists of Dissent" which started off slow, builded up and turned into bonafide Thrash Metal that then pulsated and blitzed through "Beautiful Mourning," "Aesthetics of Hate," "Slanderous" and "Halo," it met it's end with the climatic and heavy gem that is 'A Farewell to Arms," which took the same approach as "Clenching the Fist of Dissent" did but slowed itself down.
The Special Edition of the album also featured two amazing and faithful cover tracks. The cover of "Hallowed Be Thy Name" by Iron Maiden is faithful to the original yet unique. It also boasted a truly diverse range of vocals. Then the cover of Metallica's "Battery" was truly magnificent. Faithful to the original but with a little added omph! To it, it was a real biter and a cover which would have Machine Head and Metallica fans alike crying tears of joy whilst getting severe whiplash. The album helped propel Machine Head into the spotlight and the album is considered as their finest work to date.
It took another four long years for Machine Head to release their follow up to the phenomenal "The Blackening" but did it pay off? The answer is yes. An album that is by far the most diverse thing Machine Head have yet to produce, Machine Head's seventh studio attempt is something of pure Metal beauty. How can you follow up an album like "The Blackening"? The answer is simple. Do what Slayer did with their follow up to "Reign in Blood." If you can't match what you achieved on your previous album, tone down a bit. And that is exactly what appears to have happened with 2011's "Unto the Locust." This album is something that replaces pure speed with something a little more sophomore. Truly outstanding, the album still maintains its Thrash elements from its predecessor only toned down. This album feels more bassy, more fuller. The track listing is as follows:
1. "I Am Hell (Sonata in C#)" - This song very much follows route of "Clenching the Fist of Dissent" from the predecessor album, "The Blackening." A pure bonafide Thrash hit, the song starts off with a beautifully well crafted Sonata that enters into something purely heavy, setting the feel of the album. After the heavy riff dies out, the Thrash takes over and from there in, it is pure magic. Amazing guitar skill, fast and precise drumming, some truly astonishing vocals and rip roaring bass make this song truly amazing. Not to mention a lovely acoustic guitar section near the end of the song, straight after some intense solo work.
2. "Be Still and Know" - Starting off with beautiful guitar work, this song builds itself up until it reaches the fast and rather heavy riffing of the verse. The chorus boasts some fine vocals and some excellent guitar work whilst creating one catchy hook. The solo in the song is something of genius and played underneath it is some fast work from drums, bass and guitar. The song ultimately reaches its end. And what an end it is.
3. "Locust" - Staring off with some great guitar work, this song already seems like it is going to be amazing from the outset. The moment the bass and drums kick in, you already feel like pumping one fist in the air and showing off your Metal horns. This song builds its way up with some beautiful drumming until it reaches a great drum fill from McClain. It shifts into the riff of the chorus with great ease and then automatically shifts into the verse riff with flawless perfection. The riffs in this song are beautiful yet heavy and it features great solo work with excellent bass and drums to accompany a song of pure genius. But what really stands out in this track is Flynn's vocals. Ranging from his rough "growled" style of vocalizing to his soft, harmonic styled cleans, this song shows just how far the band has come.
4. "This Is the End" - A "Thrashterpiece," this song is nothing but unrelenting Thrash Metal. Still showing that speed is a fundamental part of the band, this song provides solid guitar licks, powerful vocals, ferocious drumming and one heck of a build up to the song.
5. "Darkness Within" - The most emotionally driven song on the album, this is Machine Head's answer to Metallica's "Fade to Black." A moving portrait about a rough time for Robb Flynn, this showcases how well the band can contrast between soft acoustic sections and heavy sections. This song is one where it starts off slowly and builds up. It takes half the song to reach the heavier section but it's worth everything because the softer half of the song boasts Machine Head's most incredible lyrical ability. This song is a bonafide classic.
6. "Pearls Before the Swine" - A song that needs so little said on it because of only few words can describe this: Thrash. F**king. Metal. Thrash at its finest. That is all. Oh yeah, and great riffs too.
7. "Who We Are" - This is a song that is pure Thrash with some damn fine lyrics. Starting off with a soft beginning featuring the kids of the bands members, it goes into a thunderous intro before nearly exploding Thrash into your face. The song glides between verse-chorus for the first half of the song until it reaches the solo sequence which is superb and damn impressive. It flawlessly glides back into the verse again before suddenly dying down. As it goes into the final stages of the chorus, the song builds back up into such momentum that you can't help but sing along with heartfelt passion. The song closes with an instrumental section that really sums up the entire album and is enough to bring a tear or two to the eye of every Machine Head fan.
SPECIAL EDITION BONUS TRACKS:
8. "The Sentinel" (Judas Priest cover) - It isn't rare for Machine Head to add a cover or two to their albums ("The Blackening" consisted of a Metallica cover and an Iron Maiden cover) and by golly, is this a cover! A fast paced feast of pure Metal, the band truly nails everything a Metal song should be. The song builds and builds with great riffing ability, some perfect solo work and great drumming until it reaches a brilliant solo section and then the song dies down into a perfect interlude where Robb narrates more than sings. The song then picks up and for the remaining time, the song keeps building and building until the final chorus commences and McClain double basses the heck out of the song providing a magnificent pow! To the song. It is rare that critics and Metal fans will dare say a cover is better than the original song but here, it has been said many a time and it is understandable why.
9. "Witch Hunt" (Rush cover) - Some people consider this song as the weakest on the Special Edition version although it is actually a very fantastic cover. More heavier and bone-chilling than the original (although not as magical feeling), Machine Head really know how to go around covering songs. This is a fantastic cover and a job well done. Especially seeming as Rush are a rather difficult band to cover if you transfer them into Metal songs.
10. "Darkness Within" (Acoustic Bonus Track) - The song is that good that Machine Head made two versions of it! This track is a little golden gem. Although not as aggressive compared to the original version, this is still just as powerful. What Machine Head have managed to achieve with this song is that, by simply turning it into acoustic, you feel different emotions towards it. With the original you feel thee depression but yet the depression also turns into to anger and feels like desperation whereas with this version it feels like a continuation from those feelings to the point where the desperation has gone and the depression is all that remains. It makes you feel like all the small pieces of hope have disappeared and that he has finally given up. This is something rather unique. This band is able to capture several emotions that feels like they continue through each version of the same song. It seems like a very fitting end to a brilliant record that lives up to, if not even surpasses its predecessor. // 10
Lyrics: This is an album that easily has to be Machine Head; s greatest as far as lyric writing goes.
01. "I Am Hell (Sonata in C#)" - This is a song about a woman who kills out of love. Her weapon is that of fire and killing sparks her passion.
02. "Be Still and Know" - As Phil Demmel explained: "It's about struggle, and overcoming struggle, and knowing that the light at the end of the tunnel is only there if that light shines inside of you." The song title comes from Psalm 46:10, from both Jewish and Catholic Bibles.
03. "Locust" - "Locust" is a clever song. It is a metaphor about a person who comes into your life, destroys everything you have and leaves you in the aftermath of it all. Much like Locusts will go to a farmers crop, harvest and destroy their crops and fly away, leaving the farmer and his family in the aftermath.
04. "This Is the End" - A song such as this is something that is hard to talk about. Is it about betrayal? Rebellion? Struggling with friends or loved ones? I guess only Machine Head know. However, this song boasts some impressive Flynn vocals with dizzying cleans and some damn amazing "growling" vocals.
05. "Darkness Within" - Lyrically, this is the centerpiece of the album. Not only the greatest lyrics on the album but also probably throughout all of Machine Head's history. The song is about depression and life struggles. Robb uses his past experiences and paints a masterpiece of a song by saying that whilst everyone relies on religion to help them, he uses music to help set him free and that, in a way, music is a religion to him and to the rest of the people who use music to help set them free. Robb's vocals here are at their best and this is a song that will live on as one of the bands greatest.
06. "Pearls Before the Swine" - Again, this is a song hard to explain. Is it a song about greed? Obsession? Or a world gone mad? Either way, it is a song that, if paid close enough attention to, gets you thinking. And, as throughout the whole album, Robb's voice is in perfect harmony with the song.
07. "Who We Are" - This song is surprisingly debunked by most critics as being the weakest song on the normal edition. It apparently somehow does not fit with the rest of the album. Whatever their opinions are of it, the song boasts some amazing lyrics and is a song that works up the fans when played live. The song is about everyone being unique and that people should be proud of who they are. But more so, it is about how Metal fans should come together as a family and stand as one. In this song, Flynn's voice is perfect. It's harsh in the verses, a little less rough in the choruses and, at the end of the song, it is perfect to the slow and rather emotional ending of the song.
The lyrics and the vocals on "Unto the Locust" are some of the bands finest to date. This is something that will stand the test of time for all Machine Head fans. // 10
Overall Impression: Amongst the heat of Metal elitism, this album is something that should be enough to shut up even the most hardened Metal fans. With hints of Melodic Metal, Metalcore, Thrash Metal and Heavy Metal, this is an album that truly delivers. This is not an album that has tried to surpass "The Blackening" but merely to just stand side-by-side with it. And that it can proudly do. Because, whatever the opinion of others has been with this band, they have been able to really raise the bar and push their boundaries to whole new extremes. From kick starting their Metal boat with classic albums "Burn My Eyes" and "The More Things Change" to experimenting with their sound with albums "The Burning Red" and "Supercharger" to jumping back onto the Metal boat with "Through the Ashes of Empires" and to finally crafting masterpieces "The Blackening" and "Unto the Locust," this is a band that shows that they are not afraid to produce daring, controversial and down right mind-blowing albums. And even better, they can show us that they can do it all right. "The Blackening" was the "Master of Puppets," the "Rust in Peace," the "Reign in Blood" of the band. "Unto the Locust" is something else entirely however. It is something so unique and special that it really does deserve more than the one listen. This album truly is a masterpiece. // 10
Unto The Locust
HARTATTACK69, on september 30, 2011 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: I first saw Machine Head open for Metallica in 2009, and within a week I had every album and was already eager for the next. I then heard the single "Locust" and saw the band again this august at Rockstars Mayhem Festival. It would be no easy feat topping the Thrashterpiece that was "The Blackening" but this Is a noble attempt. They are still my two favorite MH albums but I have to see how this one grows on me before I decide. Overall the songs are top notch, Weather its the thunderous riffs, finger blistering solo's, melodic vocals. I'll be the first to admit that I didn't like the intro to "I Am Hell", while the rest is solid I just didn't enjoy it. The tracks that I really dug where "Locust", "Be Still An Know", "Darkness Within" and "This Is The End". "Who We Are" had its moments and "Pearls Before The Swine". The two bonus tracks covers of "Witch Hunt" and "The Sentinel" are good but I could have thought of better songs for them to cover.
01. "I Am Hell (Sonata In #c)" - the album opens with the heaviest song In my opinion. Despite the intro that I must say I didn't like, the rest picks up, This is the kind of song that would create a mosh pit with out a second of doubt among the fans. The classical interlude doesn't take away from the heaviness of the song and then the outro picks up again while not as heavy it does the job as it progresses into a fade out.
02. "Be Still And Know" - I have to agree with one of the previous reviews in saying that this guitar intro is very reminiscent of Iron Maiden, the drums roll in and then a monstrous riff enters with Robb's vocals that launch this track off into a blazing epic only to be improved upon by its chorus, the solo remind me of something off of "Master Of Puppets", easily one of my favorites off the album and hopefully a new addition to the live setlist.
03. "Locust" - the build up was easily one of my musical highlights on 2011, both hearing it the first time on iTunes and then live, the guitar stars off in a ominous tone followed by they build up of the drums, until finally the drums explode and the main riff starts. Robb enters with the vocals and I am reminded of why Machine Head rapidly climbed my top ten bands until it became tied for #1 (w/ Metallica) The chorus is solid with the guitar in the background It is nothing short of masterful. It isnt the fastest song but it is still amazing. The "Halo" of this album.
04. "This Is The End" - the classical build up with a combination of Acustic and Electric guitar shows how the band as musicians have matured since the last album, the drums roar And we still get a classical feel out of the fast paced shredding that ensues until Robb screams "THIS ENDS NOW!". We get a thrashy riff, I hear similarities to "Wolves" and "Slanderous" from "The Blackening". The rest of the song offers a solid sound and another Hammettesque solo.
05. "Darkness Within" - another slow intro, with lyrics rivaling Descend the shades of night (my favorite slower Machine Head song) The song shows how the power of music can help you in time of need when you have lost your faith (a problem I myself have faced, thought I am on good terms with both Music and faith now). One of the best Machine Head Chorus's of all time and hands down my favorite song on the album.
06. "Pearls Before The Swine" - is sort of the odd song here, its good but it feels out of place, compared to the other songs. I don't really know why but it didn't do it for me the way the others did.
07. "Who We Are" - When I heard kids would be singing on this track I expected ominous Brick in the wall children, this is more like 1st grade chorus where the kids are sloppy and off key but the parents still tell them they did good because they have to. After that it really picks up, Robb's version of the lyrics are needless to say better, they song picks up in an almost boastful manner even though the lyrics don't explain nice things to brag about. The song is what different but the similar to typical machine head. The chorus is good but the build ups are what really stand out. A different solo, still good but then it picks up into a thrashy metallic assault. The soft outro with violin's I'm assuming, is a nice touch after soo much face melting. Easily a song to get the crowd moving and jumping while singing the chorus along.
08. "The Sentinel" (Bonus) - originally by the kings themselves Judas Priest, the song starts off in typical Priest fashion with a machine head feel. I feel it is well sung and performed, the chorus is something to brag about, It's not easy to cover most Priest songs (except the generic "Hits"). If I handnt known it was a cover I may have thought it was a Machine Head original 9/10
09. "Witch Hunt" (Bonus) - a Rush song originally, an odd choice to be honest, it has its moments but Rush is a hard band to cover, much like priest but different at the same time. Not bad but not my favorite cover 7/10 // 9
Lyrics: I've always loved Machine Head lyrics, (even on "Supercharger", which despite some hate I loved).
"I Am Hell" had some moments, for me the chorus where I thought the lyrics where sick and I could find myself singing along in the car until I'm at a stoplight and the old Asian woman is staring at me.
"Be Still And Know" was easily one of my favorites in the terms of lyrics, inspired by the biblical passage "Be Still And Know That I Am God" I still get chills when I hear the chorus "And the sun will rise, Dawn will break through the blackest night Distant in it's glow, This shall pass be still and know". The rest of the song is filled with great lyrics as well.
"Locust" had been getting some heat for "Cliche" lyrics, it would be true if it where about the apocalypse and the hordes of Locusts, but it is a metaphor. The locusts being those people who pretend to care or be your friend so they can drain you of all your worth until there is nothing left and move on to the next one... Like a locust moving from crop to crop.
"This Is Then End" isn't a lyrical masterpiece but it will have you singing without realizing it at time, It's one of those songs where its energy compliments the lyrics.
"Darkness Within" is the pinnacle of lyrical writing for Machine Head in my opinion, the intro is sung with such care, you can almost feel the pain in Robb voice. A triumph of music, the chorus reminds us the power music can have over us. Admit it, there is that one song that can change your mood immediately, maybe even saved your life (Fade to black) overall this is my favorite lyrics off the album.
"Pearls Before The Swine" nothing really special here, not as catchy as the other tunes but decent.
"Who We Are" lyrically this is good, not great but it does have that anthem, everyone get up and sing feel to it. // 9
Overall Impression: 3 solid albums in a row. I feel safe knowing these guys will be around when older band retire, hopefully these guys can fill a stadium and headline instead of co headlining or supporting other bands. The songs are amazing and well written, I can't compare it to "The Blackening" because I'd just keep contradicting myself The Blackening is placed just bellow "Master Of Puppets" on my list of the greatest Thrash Metal albums). The covers are good but I'd replace "Witch Hunt" with a cover of something like "She-Wolf" by Megadeth or off of "Holy Diver" by Dio
Overall the album is a solid Thrashterpiece, It's too bad they couldn't make the Big 4 into the Big 6 to accommodate Machine Head and Testament. I'm already eager to hear how there going to follow up this. // 9
Unto The Locust
TST2469, on october 03, 2011 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The sound that Machine Head have achieved on this new record to me is nothing but amazing. I find my self listening to it on repeat day after day. The album shows Machine Head doing something new with their music but they still stay true to the classic Machine Head sound. I think recording of the drums on this album stands out for me and I'm a guitar player. The power of the drums is just there it smacks ya right in the face! // 8
Lyrics: From the very first words sung by Robb Flynn on the very first track you can tell that the record is meaningful to him and is going to be great. The lyrics on this record are very touching and meaningful. They stay true to the classic Lyrical Theme of Machine Head and as for Robb's Voice on this record he is really experimenting with his clean voice more which to me is a great thing. don't get me wrong he still brings the house down with his Powerful Scream/Yell but he is also using his cleans alot. // 9
Overall Impression: To me I think this would rank very high in the top releases of this year. Great Band, Great Music, and when I purchased this record it was the Special Edition version with bonus tracks and bonus DVD. The only bad thing I can say about this Record is the DVD to me is too short I WANTED MORE! And same with the amount of songs. I think they should of had 2 disc's worth of songs. But that is the only bad thing I can say about this record all I can say is True Machine Head fans will love this album and new Machine Head fans this is a great album to start on. // 10
Unto The Locust
Bay.of.Pigs, on october 03, 2011 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Firstly, as a huge fan of this band since the days of "Burn My Eyes", I'd like to say that this album is pretty good. Not great, not bad - just good. The production is excellent, as is the musicianship, but the band hasn't quite nailed the emotion or rage-inspiring heights of previous efforts.
01. I Am Hell - One of the better songs on the offering, this sets an awesome pace for the rest of the album. Quite how vocalist Robb Flynn is going to pull off this kind of riffage whilst singing in a live setting is beyond me, but I'm sure he'll pull it off. There's a lot going on here, and it doesn't quite have the cohesiveness or appeal of Clenching The Fists Of Dissent, but it's a good start.
02. Be Still And Know - For me, this song most closely resembles what I expected from Machine Head after "The Blackening". This song is spot on, delivering hooks and memorable vocal patterns aplenty.
03. Locust - The album mix of this track is definitely an improvement on the version previously released as a taster. This track is also pretty damn good - my only real criticism being the cheese-fest chorus vocals. Robb should just be quiet and let that huge riff shine through!
04. This Is The End - This is a mediocre song for me. There are some great riffs, and it's sure to be a winner live, but I don't feel much of a connection with the song.
05. Darkness Within - After listening to this song several times I found myself skipping through until 2.30 (where the song actually takes off). I appreciate the desire to experiment, but for me this really doesn't work. Phil Demmel's lead work is awesome, however, and the song isn't a total loss.
06. Pearls Before The Swine - Hands down this is the best song on the album. My only gripe is that the first riff sounds too upbeat (along with most of this record), but overall this is an intense piece of songwriting. The last riff is an absolute beast as well.
07. Who We Are - Why? Why? WHY?! I cannot believe this even made it onto the record. For me, this song is just about the worst thing the band has done since American High. A children's choir... awful stadium-filling lyrics... endless riffs that make no sense what'soever... Whenever I listen to the album I just skip this track and go back to I Am Hell. Such a shame, considering the band are renowned for excellent album closers (Block, Blood Of The Zodiac, The Burning Red, Descend The Shades Of Night, A Farewell To Arms). // 7
Lyrics: Although Robb Flynn has undoubtedly improved his vocal skills (and the performance here is perhaps his strongest to date), the lyrics on "Unto The Locust" often seem contrived and even childish in places. I cannot help but feel that so many of the lyrics on this album were written purely to appeal to the masses and to sound good in a stadium. Flynn has definitely raised the bar on this album though; sounding more pissed off than ever, and has once again proved that he can indeed sing. // 7
Overall Impression: Ultimately, this album is too short, particularly as I cannot stand the last track. Seven songs in four years? Surely the 'Head can do better than that? There are moments of inspiration to be found on this album for sure, but it falls short of many of their previous efforts.
I would put this album on-par with The Burning Red - some great ideas, but the experimental nature and desire to please the masses has once again hindered the band's momentum. I don't feel that Unto The Locust meets the standards of the first two albums, nor the previous two releases, and it's certainly not worthy of the hype it's received.
Machine Head are still my favourite band of all time, and I will undoubtedly listen to this album from time to time, but for now I'll just stick to the back catalogue and wait for the next one. // 7
Unto The Locust
The_Crunch, on october 13, 2011 0 of 8 people found this review helpful
Sound: Machine Head's highly anticipated follow-up to The Blackening is an exercise in regression, if nothing else. Everything they achieved on that album, they have tried to achieve again here. With the faux-Pantera grooves, neoclassical shred, and disjointed, incongruent songs being passed off as progressive, you could easily mistake this for some young band's debut. You can tell they're trying, and there are even some good ideas. In the majority of the songs here there are some good riffs. A good solo, maybe even a good hook. But the overarching theme here is frustration. Listening to the album is frustrating, as it schizophrenically changes from one thing to another, failing to develop any ideas well, and frankly ending up in a mess. The opening 'sonata', "I Am Hell" exemplifies this more than any other song. A confused orchestral instrumental is a clear bid to get these nu metal upstarts recognised by serious metal critics at first, but at second a cynical attempt at a metal anthem. It crescendoes, it goes up and down, it's filled up with meaty riffs, and there's a rather long solo. But unlike Dream Theater, Opeth or any actual progressive metal bands, it's boring, and has no focus. It's like a mashup of Godsmack, Hellyeah, Pantera and film music. The rest of the album continues as such, each song trying to one up the previous one in terms of epicness, length of solo, bounciness of breakdown or shoutiness of vocals. But where The Blackening did these things well, this seems like a rehash. Robb Flynn sounds bored both on vox and guitars, and the majority of the album is unmemorable and a poor testament to their strong discography and live reputation. Ironically, the most memorable moment is the closer 'Who We Are', the worst song Flynn and the gang have put their name to (not discounting their horrendous nu metal days). Robb Flynn's children belt out a hideous chorus and it is reminiscient of a charity single. However it is certainly the most epic song of the album, so in a way Machine Head have acheived their purpose. Although if you want epic pop music with heavy guitars, you can always listen to 30 Seconds to Mars. Doing a track by track is worthless, as they all meander along as one, in disappointing monotone. // 2
Lyrics: If there's one thing on this album worse than the music, it's the lyrics. From the opening line "I AM HELL!" (note the capitals, as Robb Flynn is very angry), you know this is going to be quite an embarassing affair. The majority of the lyrics would appeal to 13 year olds who had just discovered metal, and I imagine will look brilliant on the front of their brand new "Machine Fucking Head" black t-shirts. They shout about locusts, darkness, the apocalypse and other such faux-evil concepts in a very tiresome manner. In the closer they throw in some shit about unity, perhaps trying to vary the mood, but it's either too late or wouldn't work anyway. However on the upside, the lyrics are compliant with the music - very tedious, lacklustre and juvenile. // 2
Overall Impression: Horrible. On 'Unto the Locust' Machine Head effectively made The Blackening part 2, but in this case it was more Weekend At Bernie's 2 than The Godfather 2. Nothing stands out other than in being worse than other tracks, the most positive comment I can think of is 'Pearls Before the Swine' isn't actively offensive, and neither are parts of 'I Am Hell'. Overall, topheavy, but even the top is shit. // 2
Unto The Locust
BL4CKENED, on october 14, 2011 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Being the follow up of The Blackening, it has a lot to live up to, and for the most part it succeeds.
1. I am Hell - It starts off with some haunting, and eerie chants in Latin. When the band comes in it is very powerful, but the main riff and the middle of the song, is very boring and uninteresting, but the song ends really great and powerful like the beginning. It just feels like the the song was just filler for the amazing beginning and end of the song. 7/10
2. Be still and Know - By far the best song on the album. The intro is great, the main riff is heavy and powerful, the bridge riff is interesting/different and i really like it. The solo is similar to Aesthetics of hate, and sounds great. There isn't anything negative I can say about this song. 10/10
3. Locust - The first single and one of the best tracks. The clean intro is eerie. The main riff of the song isn't the best but it isnt bad either. The Chorus is the best part of the song. It uses the same octave riff as the intro, and the lyrics are probably the best on the album. 10/10
4. This is the End - This song is Machine Head. Everything about this song is typical Machine Head. The acoustic intro reminds me of battery. The main riff of the song is really similar to Seasons Wither, and one of the riffs off of Imperium. Very thrashy song. Not a big fan of the chorus vocals or riff they just sound out of place to me. 9/10
5. Darkness Within - The ballad of the album, and the song thats getting a lot of hate. I for the most part like the song. The beginning of the song with just acoustic is great, the build up of the song is what I don't like. I don't like the guitar in the buildup at all. The half way to end of the song is where this song shines. Powerful riffs, powerful vocals and chorus, and some amazing lyrics.
6. Pearls Before the Swine - The second best track on the album. It has a great start and transition to the main riff. The main riff is so simple and brutal sounding. The pre chorus riffs are my favorite parts of the song. The first one is a breakdown type riff , and goes to this calmer sounding one. It's a great transition over. Several great riffs towards the end. Then it's the breakdown. The breakdown is the most metal a breakdown can be. It is all kinds of amazing. 10/10
7. Who we Are - It starts of with children singing "This is who we are". And its a great intro to the song. The main riff is yet another amazing one on this album, especially when it hits the pre chorus and the riff is played in a higher octave. The chorus is very simple, but great, and has some good lyrics. The solo is powerful and fantastic. 10/10 // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics were all around my favorite, and best of any other Machine Head album. The lyrics fit in so well with the theme of the songs and album. Robb Flynns best vocal work to date. // 10
Overall Impression: Every album Machine Head releases is better than the last, and this is no exception. If the only song on this album was Be still and Know I still would have payed full price for it. The only thing I didn't like about this album was track 1. It was overall a unimpressive song and was mostly filler. I had high hopes for the track and I was overall disappointed with it. I would most defiantly buy it again if it was stolen. // 10