Sound — 10
Machine Head. They've been around for nearly 15 years, their first album "Burn My Eyes" instantly made an impact on the music scene in 1994, since then they haven't been able to top what they achieved in the early '90s. 2004's "Through The Ashes Of Empires" supposedly came close to doing that, it brought Machine Head back after being dropped from Roadrunner Records and losing their guitarist Ahrue Luster due to band complications, and it showed just how confident Machine Head gotten in themselves. "The Blackening" shows they are on top of the world. This may well be one of the best metal albums of the last 20 years, this is (as they put it) their "Master Of Puppets" and it is definitly up there with the likes of Slayer's "Reign In Blood" and Pantera's "Vulgar Display Of Power". The sound as far as instruments go on "The Blackening" are quite a bit different to the sound of "...Empires". It's much more balls-out-metal, no clever effects, just straight into it. With the exception of album opener "Clenching The Fists Of Dissent" Starts with an epic acoustic guitar section, gradually building up with Dave McClain's snare drum, creating a marching/army sound. I might add that War (though it is not a concept album) is a very strong topic throughout the songs. The song then breaks through into a thundering set of riffs that set the mood for the next 10 minutes of the opening song. Yes, I said 10 minutes. And it's not a one off, songs such as "Halo" and "Wolves" are both just under the ten minute mark, and epic album closer "A Farewell To Arms", just under 11 minutes. Let me say first off, that when you think, four 10 minute songs on one album, "wow, that really can't be very interesting atall", and may put people off, but unlike others, you don't feel that the songs drag on, they sound like they are just ment to be. The songs take you into different moods from incredible anger to soothing melodys, thrashing solo's and amazing guitar/bass harmonies. Not to mention Dave McClains astonishingly underrated complex drumming.
Lyrics — 10
Like I said before, War, is a very strong topic throughout the album. That's not saying what'soever that Rob Flynn has gone political or any of that crap. If you're a Machine Head fan you probably know by now that Rob Flynn writes straight from the heart, he is not afraid to speak out. Lyrics like "You're not alone in thinking, this is f--king insane!" and "To you the revolutions call, time to fight, I wont deny you!" Songs like "Now I Lay Thee Down" is a kind of 'Romeo and Juliet' themed song. it's basically about having to let go of someone close to you, again this could reflect back to the theme of war, an example is the beautifully sung chorus "Dream... over, Dream... No more... And breathe one last time... Now I lay thee down". After reading a short interview with Rob Flynn I realised that "Wolves" is a song about the fans, it's about what the four of them see night after night on the road, and this is Machine Head giving something back to them, the opening lyrics to the song "Release the wolves - courage has no rules. Comparison, come protection, we'll bury one and all!" Is just a circle pit waiting to happen. The song "Slanderous" relates back to songs like "Left Unfinished" and "Days turn blue to gray" off of "...Empires". The chorus goes "I love you, why do I hate my father, I love you, why do I hate myself" etc. Overall I think Rob Flynn has become 100% confident in his songwriting, and is his best work to date.
Overall Impression — 10
Nobody thought it was possible, that just 5 years ago Machine Head were on the brink of breaking up, they almost decided to call it a day, and even go by a different band name and start from scratch. There is nothing to say that I haven't said already, other than, "The Blackening" will blow your mind, over and over and over again. Machine Head truly deserve the title of the best metal band today. Thanks for reading this review.