Bloodstone & Diamonds review by Machine Head

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  • Released: Nov 7, 2014
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.4 (61 votes)
Machine Head: Bloodstone & Diamonds
5

Sound — 9
Machine Head originally formed in 1991, then fast forward to 2013 and you have Robb Flynn firing bassist, Adam Duce, from the band, leaving Robb as the last remaining founding member. He replaced Duce with Jared MacEachern, who had been playing rhythm guitar for the band, Sanctity. The album "Bloodstone & Diamonds" is the band's eighth full-length studio album, and the band began recording in early 2014. This happened just a few short months after the band left Roadrunner Records for Nuclear Blast Records, making this the first record by the band not released on Roadrunner Records. The album's title is taken from lyrics from the opening track, "Now We Die." The album has 12 tracks and clocks in at 1 hour and 12 minutes, which if you do the math equals some slightly longer songs. The lead single from the album, "Killers & Kings," was released in April 2014. 

The album opens up with the track, "Now We Die," which actually opens with a string quartet but then comes in with some truly heavy riffing and a pounding and relentless bass and drums. "Killers & Kings," which is the lead single, is also the next track on the album, which opens with some fast riffing has gang vocals in the choruses. "Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones" has a very quirky intro, with an odd melody and triplets on the percussion and actually uses the riffing on the song as the hook, which is always a positive thing for me. "Night of Long Knives" opens up with a voice screaming "You won't see us come" over and over, and uses a lot of melody and tremolo picking on this track. "Sail Into the Black" uses chanting in the opening, which creates a creepy vibe for the song. The song is probably closer to progressive metal than the heavy metal you would normally expect from the band, and immediately my favorite track on the album. "Eyes of the Dead" has a spastic, almost "Flight of the Bumblebee" thing going on with it, and then some almost spoken vocals that work really well with the track. "Beneath the Silt" has a pretty different thing going on with it than most of the rest of the album - almost something I would expect from Mastodon instead of Machine Head. "In Comes the Flood" has an orchestral and choral opening, which slowly builds up to a crescendo of "America, The Beautiful" and then the heaviness comes in with lyrics dealing with the corruption of modern American culture. "Damage Inside" opens up with some clean singing by Robb Flynn, a capella - if you don't count a lot of reverb/delay going on. No instrumentation comes in for almost the first minute and a half, then a guitar comes in, and instrumentation builds up. "Game Over" has an almost hardcore vibe to it, and uses both Robb's vocals and the drums powerfully. "Imaginal Cells" opens up with some sampled audio from different speeches and people speaking from news programs, which ends up being the total lyrics from the song. The album closes out with "Take Me Through the Fire," which is another song where the guitar riffs really act as the hook in the song, and has a pretty unique vocal delivery for the album. It definitely is a strong close for the album.

Lyrics — 9
Robb Flynn is one of the strongest vocalists in modern metal, and he has proven his skill and versatility in the past 2 or 3 albums, especially. His vocal performance on this album is both versatile and well-executed. As a sample of the album lyrics, here are some from the opening track, "Now We Die": "And with this now we die/ Standing at the edge of the world/ Uncertainty calling as the page unfurls/ Fortune, heaven or hell/ Shedding my body of this mortal shell/ Black steel and iron/ A lion heart is forged from these bones/ Fear not, the discontent you hide/ Awake from the slumber and define this time/ No fear to pay the price/ And with this now we die/ Ashes to ashes/ The ocean crashes/ Louder and louder it cries/ Over and over/ The sands wash over/ Facing, embracing the tides/ And with this now we die/ And with this now we die/ Screaming violence into the void/ Is anyone listening or is all destroyed/ Fighting heaven and earth/ Saving your children from their pain and hurt/ Bloodstone and diamonds/ Nothing can break the strength of these stones/ Cast off the shackles of the past/ Live in the moment nothing ever lasts."

Overall Impression — 9
My only complaint is I'm not really fond of Jared MacEachem on bass, but as he is transitioning from rhythm guitar, maybe this will improve over time with the next release. My favorite track from the album is definitely "Sail Into the Black," by a pretty large margin, but I like most every song on the album. Some other standout tracks for me would be "Night of Long Knives," "Beneath the Silt," and "Take Me Through the Fire." This is possibly my favorite album by the band from day one.

26 comments sorted by best / new / date

    SB_79
    I'm still trying to fully digest this album. Have given it several listens now but it hasn't quite sunk in for me yet. I've been there from the very beginning loving the brilliant Burn My Eyes, through some of the shaky years but relishing the last few releases. Blackening and Locust are just phenomenal albums for me, Blackening being near perfect (IMO). I'm hoping B&D grows on me, I think it is a strong offering, possibly overshaddowed by the high bar they themselves have set.
    franciscanavarn
    have to agree. There are some standout tracks, particularly Sail into the Black (that intro!). Locust took a while to grow on me, but afterwards I wore my cd out from listening to it so much. I hope this one goes a similar route, cos there does appear to be a lot to enjoy here! Can't wait to see them in London next month as well!
    Fuku-san
    100 % agree. IMO this album is boring as hell. There is nothing outsanding at all. Blanks riffs and awful singing.
    SB_79
    I'm not sure where you agree with me here if you think it's boring as hell. That's not at all what I said. Just that it hadn't grown on me yet. I think it's a very good album in amongst 2/3 fantastic albums.
    Fuku-san
    Yeah my bad. I don't know how to read. In fact I just agree with your first sentence. It's hard to digest.
    Aldog8
    I don't know how the reviewer can honestly say "This is possibly my favorite album by the band from day one." For mew that shows a little inexperience when it comes to Machine Head as the latest release (on a few listens now) is way short of their best work. The Blackening is a stunnign album and although I didn't feel Locust stood up to it, it is much more appealing than B&D, even now, a few years on. SB_79 - It would seem that your boy Fuku-san is on the wind-up.
    chauhan174
    I agree in places its boring, but the the better songs on this album are quite special to me. The chorus from Ghosts Will Haunt my Bones is just stuck in my head and won't leave
    CMepTb
    Yeah, I guess it was good. Not as good as "Unto The Locust", but definitely surpassed my expectation, cause I didn't think they would pull it off, especially after reading an interview where Robb told he's out of ideas. "Now We Die" is probably my new favourite song by them now. That chorus and solos are just perfect. Also loved "Beneath The Silt" with that Meshuggahny intro, and "Eyes Of The Dead". Also didn't get why they needed two "haunted" songs on the album. One - is the right amount i think. A strong 7/10
    henrihell
    I think it's better than Unto The Locust. It can't compare to the real classics, but it's still one hell of an album.
    satansnachos
    These recording sound pretty good but, (IMO) Machine Fuckin Head is just one of those rare bands that sound WAY better live. After hearing these songs right now, I can't wait to hear them live. I just hope they bring Deathklok with them, like they did last time they came here. Damn, that was a good show
    MyUserName777
    Beneath the Silt and Ghosts Will Haunts My Bones are the standout tracks. I wouldn't say this tops Unto the Locust or The Blackening but there's some great material. I have to give it several more listens before I can make a final opinino.
    Shavyi
    I was totally blown away when I discovered Machine Head with Unto The Locust (yayay, I'm was late, sorry), because of the heaviness, complexity and unbelievable melodies. I was really looking forward to this new record, even more since I saw them live in August 2014. And I must say that I'm not disappointed. Yes, it isn't as "groove metal" as the Blackening, but it shows some previously unexplored areas of their creativity. Now We Die is a classic MH song, referring to their classics as Halo or Locust. Ghost We Haunt My Bones shows some new stuff, like for example a crazy tapping based riff that drives the song. The whole record has some interesting and unexpected riffs. Flynn shows some of the best singing he is able to perform, definitely one of the best voices in modern metal. The only "meh" points are the solos, which aren't that original, MH accustomed us to better I guess. Can't really say a note, but it would be surprising if this record wasn't in the top 10 of 2014.
    DaniArrow
    I think it's good. Not as good as Blackening and TTAOE but better than Locust. It fits in there, couple great tracks on here.
    bichkarjoff
    Phenomenal record - musical diversity has gone farther than on Unto The Locust, heaviness is close or on the level as the Blackening. Plus, Damage Inside was a fabulous throwback to the "Burning Red-Era". So far, epic - hopefully, this feeling will last.
    DEG_III
    An incredible album. I'm completely shocked at the negative response on here, for me it's not far behind The Blackening and that's saying something! Sail Into The Black could very well be the best MH song ever...JUST. SO. EPIC.
    Swizzlestix
    My only complaint is it takes a little long to get started. They could have easily shaved off 1:30-20 and the song would have been even better IMO, but still heavy as all hell, one of my favorite songs to blast in my car to and from work. Great album all around!
    Shredx
    I like this album as a whole more than The Locust I think.
    maximumrocker
    Agreed man. I found Locust to be kind of disappointing. Though some good tracks on there. This album I enjoy a lot more
    mlukeroberts222
    The writer of this review can in no way be a real HEAD CASE. For one, everyone knows Flynn spells his name "Robb" with the two "B's." Next up, to say this is "their best album in their last several releases?" HAHAHA….I love MHEAD but this album doesn't touch "Through The Ashes of Empires" or "The Blackening."
    Burnzyburns
    The "Beneath the Silt" riff sounds like a lot of bands that aren't Machine Head, but I don't think Mastodon is among them... Either way, it's badass and one of the stronger tracks on the record imo.
    JimBell
    Great album. Wrong songs were chosen for pre-release though In my opinion, I'm unsure if they know what their best songs are. It seems like they're not going to play ghosts will haunt my bones on the current tour.. wtf is up with that?! Even though there's quite a bit of experimental on this album the songs definitely appear to be more neat and tidy compared to Locust. Something of which I think if applied to the previous album would have made it much better! Production is beefy delicious as always. See you on the 6th December!