Bloodstone & Diamonds Review

artist: Machine Head date: 11/12/2014 category: compact discs
Machine Head: Bloodstone & Diamonds
Released: Nov 7, 2014
Genre: Groove Metal, Thrash Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Number Of Tracks: 12
This will be the first album by the band with only Robb Flynn remaining as a founding member, and honestly is clearly the best album from their last several releases.
 Sound: 9
 Lyrics: 8
 Overall Impression: 8.5
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overall: 9
Bloodstone & Diamonds Featured review by: UG Team, on november 11, 2014
8 of 11 people found this review helpful

Sound: 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. // 9

Lyrics: 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." // 9

Overall Impression: 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. // 9

- Brandon East (c) 2014

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overall: 8
Bloodstone & Diamonds Reviewed by: Bay.of.Pigs, on november 12, 2014
5 of 6 people found this review helpful

Sound: Machine Head have been generating a lot of hype around this album over the past few months, throwing out video trailers and song samples all over the place. But does it really live up to expectations?

This is a strong album which contains some of Machine Head's best work. It also contains a lot of recycled riffs and a few tracks which would be best left in the practice room. In a similar fashion to their previous effort "Unto the Locust," I feel that this is a good album but by no means a flawless album. Most of Machine Head's previous albums (with the exception of "Supercharger") were "all killer, no filler." I don't feel that this applies to "Bloodstones & Diamonds," but there are generally enough "killer" elements to keep the listener interested. 

The production, as usual, is excellent. The bass is almost always audible in the mix and the drums are loud enough but not overpowering. The guitars sound huge and have a real bite to them. The orchestras are also well utilised and make a really positive impact. 

01. "Now We Die" - I can see why they chose this song to open the album. I don't think it's an outstanding song, but it does have a good build up and will go down well live. My main gripes with this song are the dull verses and dumb lyrics. The chorus and bridge sections are excellent, and the solo is inventive.

02. "Killers and Kings" - The first song to be released, this has some cool riffs incorporating the almost-patented natural harmonics. I'm not too sure about the shouting "gang" vocals during the chorus though. The solo and backing riffs work well together.

03. "Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones" - This is an awesome song; perhaps one of my favourite Machine Head songs of all time. Jared proves himself to be a great backing vocalist, and Robb uses his vocal range perfectly. They seem to have resurrected the harmonics-riff from "Block," but it works well in this song.

04. "Night of Long Knives" - Another cool song incorporating various tempos and even some old-school blastbeats. The vocals are slightly repetitive, but the riffs more than make up for it. The verses have a punk-vibe to them, which works well. This will definitely be a live track. They could potentially shorten this track by chopping the generic bridge section.

05. "Sail Into the Black" - This song incorporates a lot of different elements including some interesting layered vocals. I really enjoy this track, as I feel it is Machine Head really pushing their boundaries and being creative. I doubt it will be played live as it is fairly slow and downbeat, but it is definitely one of the best tracks on the album.

06. "Eyes of the Dead" - Fantastic track. Heavy riffs, good build-ups and use of clean vocals, nice solos and did I mention heavy riffs?

07. "Beneath the Silt" - This is very different for Machine Head, but it works well. This song has a real Down/southern feel to it and uses what sound like 8-string guitars. A pleasant surprise.

08. "In Comes the Flood" - Another fairly slow song with a great intro incorporating the orchestra once again. The verse sounds like a recycled riff from "Seasons Wither," but it does work well.

09. "Damage Inside" - This is very different for Machine Head. I think this is one of the best and most unique aspects of this album. It is by no means a heavy song, but it reminds me of "The Burning Red" and could well be a live favourite (it is short enough to be interesting without sending anyone to sleep). Truly moving; Robb should be proud of this.

10. "Game Over" - I'm sure lots of people will disagree with me, but this song is pretty bad. It doesn't fit with the rest of the material and reminds me of "Who We Are" from the previous album (which is still my least favourite MH song of all time). Did this make the album just to get at Adam Duce? The album would be stronger without it.

11. "Imaginal Cells" - I really like this track, but again it does feel out of place with the rest of the material. Some interesting riffs play out in the background, but it feels slightly too long.

12. "Take Me Through the Fire" - Very disappointing finish to the album. This is a basic song with dumb lyrics and feels like a cop-out compared to some of the other gems. There is a good riff in the middle of the song incorporating some artificial harmonics, but we are then subjected to a tedious fist-pumping "hey... hey..." riff. // 9

Lyrics: The lyrics on this album are fairly basic and repetitive. There are some sections which are unique but, overall, I prefer the more intelligent and aggressive lyrics of their first two albums. The last two proper songs "Game Over" and "Take Me Through the Fire" contain some of the worst lyrics I've ever heard. Robb has a very distinctive vocal style which he uses to good effect throughout the album. Personally I felt the vocal performance on this album is one of their best (see "Sail Into the Black" and "Damage Inside"). // 7

Overall Impression: The album starts off on a good note and develops into an absolute beast. However, the last few songs are a serious disappointment and drag the rest of the material down a notch. Songs to check out are "Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones," "Sail Into the Black," "Eyes of the Dead" and "Damage Inside." Songs to avoid (like the plague) are "Game Over" and "Take Me Through the Fire."

Machine Head should be proud of this album. If only they could reign in the desire to write crowd-pleasing garbage like "Game Over" and "Take Me Through the Fire." I will certainly be listening to this regularly, but skipping a few tracks each time. // 8

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