Sound — 10
Black Sabbath were the most important innovators in heavy metal in rock music. Led Zeppelin were the most important innovators of blues in rock music. What's exemplified in 1972's "Machine Head" is that Deep Purple were the most important innovators in blues-inspired metal in rock music. Keeping in mind that Deep Purple was composed of musical geniuses, the musical depth of the album is just astounding. Tight, almost metal-esque rhythms and vocals, classically-inspired complexity, and bluesy keyboard and guitar solos all fill up the album in such an amazing combination that Deep Purple define a style that's all their own. For 1972, this was important. Very important. A new, fresh genre of rock was already starting to emerge. Black Sabbath do (quite fairly) get credited with pioneering heavy metal, but Deep Purple no doubt played an important part in the explosion of the genre. Setting themselves apart from other rock bands at the time by having faster, tighter, and overall darker musical themes and concepts, "Machine Head" remains today to be one of the most important albums of all time. And I'm not exaggerating when I say that.
Lyrics — 10
Lyrically, the album displays an incredible balance between epic poetry and lyrical genius (a la "Pictures Of Home"), while at the same time showing off a very rough metal-like edge (a-la "Highway Star"). All in all, I do believe that Ian Gillian is one of the best rock lyricists of all time, and one of the best rock vocalists to match. Manipulating falsetto in a rough way that was previously unprecedented, Ian Gillian's impressive vocal range no doubt inspired later metal bands of the same vein, such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden (fronted by the awesome Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson, respectively; two metal vocalists also well-known for their falsettos). Again using the combination of metal, blues, and more classically-rooted elements, the album's lyrics, much like its music itself, contribute in making Machine Head a masterpiece even today.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, Deep Purple were one of the most important bands of their time, and Machine Head is perhaps their greatest release. It is a mastercraft of classic blues and a forerunner of metal, and it's importance is matched by very few albums of it's time. The album serves up 7 songs and roughly 37 minutes of pure genius, and whether you're a classic rock person, a metal person, a classical person, whatever, just get Machine Head. If you're a fan of music at all, you can't possibly not love it.