Sound — 10
Machine Head have been a definitive force in metal since their landmark 1994 debut 'Burn My Eyes'. Be it the crushing, restless, savage musicianship of that era, or the radio friendly, nu-metal drenched overtones of 'Supercharger', Machine Head have never failed to astonish me, however, I have never found myself able to listen to a record in it's entirity from start to finish. Until now. The Blackening is much more than just another metal record. It is a genuine moment in history. It displays brutality within melody, with complex yet subtle arrangements. In short, The Blackening is where Machine Head have finally hit the nail on the head. It combines the classic breakneck pace of the early '80s thrash metal scene with the groove drenched riffery that made Machine Head stand out so much in the beginning, with all the melodic moments that we have come to expect from any Machine Head record to date, but has been stepped up to a whole new level. The band are playing out of their skin. Never have Machine Head as a unit sounded so tight, intricate and, actually, like they're really enjoying themselves. Right from the sombre, Metallica-esque intro to 'Clenching the Fists of Dissent' to the dynamic climax of 'A Farewell to Arms', you know all the way through that you've really got your hands on something special.
Lyrics — 10
Robb Flynn is truly on top of his game on the lyric front. The angst and hatred that fills 'Clenching...' should send shivers up the spine of any self respecting metalhead. The lyrical subjects differ greatly throughout the record, yet all seem to have some kind of subconcious connection with eachother. 'Beautiful Mourning' seems to deal with suicide, while 'Now I Lay Thee Down' is simply a fictional Romeo and Juliet-like story in which two people both end their lives out of love for one another. As far as vocal melodies and lyrics fitting with the music goes, on first listen, it is a match made in heaven, almost as if the lyrics and music were two seperate existing entities awaiting to conjoin with eachother. Accented by Robb Flynn's trademark growl, it makes for a truly untouchable experience.
Overall Impression — 10
As I've already said, nothing can compare what to Machine Head have delivered with The Blackening, the bands sixth effort. Not any other band, not even their own past material. Right from the off, it is an unrelenting, epic and utterly amazing piece. Machine Heads masterpiece. With this, Machine Head have firmly placed themselves alongside 'Master of Puppets', 'Reign in Blood', 'The Number of the Beast', records that are considered by many to be metals most important. The crushing, complicated guitar work of 'Clenching the Fists of Dissent', the thrash dominated structure of 'Aesthetics of Hate', the progressive rifforama that is 'Wolves'. Each song, each movement, each minute, each second. They are all awe-inspiring. They all solidify the fact that this album is indeed a masterpiece. Not just in Machine Heads career and not just in metal, but in music overall. To all who have not yet purchased this record, you're doing yourselves a great disservice. Any who consider themselves true fans of metal and music in general should own this album. Heres to a new Machine Head in 2007.