Sound — 10
I might as well say this straight from the start, this album hit me like a goddamn freight train. I mean, I knew it was going to be an awesome album but damn! In my opinion, Machine Head have raised the bar on metal so high that even veteran bands such as Slayer etc. haven't got a snowball's chance in hell of competing with this. This album is almost perfect, the riffs are crunchy, heavy, catchy and memorable, the solos are technical and brain-meltingly awesome and the vocals? Lets not go there. Robb Flynn can out-scream anyone who dares to question him. Opener 'Clenching the Fists of Dissent' tricks into a sense of security with it's beautiful acoustic intro before ripping your a new one with a deadly thrash riff, and this lasts for 10 and a half minutes. Lead single 'Aesthetics of Hate' is one of the best songs this band has ever coughed up, with dual guitar work, some brutal in-your-face lyrics and memorable hooks and it pretty much continues through the rest of the album. The only real rest from the sheer force of this album is at the beginning of the closing track 'A Farewell to Arms' and even then it kicks in with some more crunch. Trust me folks, this album isn't for the faint of heart. This might be too heavy for most, even death metal fans. Any band that manages to keep 10+ minute songs fresh all the way through deserves praise if you ask me.
Lyrics — 9
Lyric-wise, the album is sound. No generic metal lyrics here (so none of this 'Hail satan in blood rawr' crap) instead we get to the more political side of things, 'Clenching' and 'A Farewell' are just two great big middle fingers to the american government for the war in Iraq. 'Aesthetics of Hate' is a legion of hate towards one Mr. William Grimm, the sick bastard who insulted Dimebag Darrell (and the metal community as a whole) very shortly after his death. 'Now I Lay Thee Down' has a Romeo and Juliet style love slant to it, 'Slanderous' is about being insulted by all those haters in the world and throwing it right back at 'em, 'Halo' tackles organised religion and 'Wolves', to quote Robb Flynn himself, is about the fans, for the fans. And you can't argue with that.
Overall Impression — 10
Now I know people will read this and just go 'Blah blah blah you're a MH fan of course you'll give it 10/10'. Not true, in fact I'm just telling the truth straight up. This album is quite possibly the greatest metal record ever created. it's impossible to even choose which songs stand out the most, as they're all so well crafted and brilliantly executed. Honetsly, there is nothing I can find to dislike about this album, and I'm extremely picky when it comes to metal. If anyone stole this album, I'd find them, shake their hand and buy them a beer for having such a fantastic taste in music. If you love metal, then you quite simply need this album, you're not a metal fan if you don't. End of discussion!