Sound — 9
As a newcomer to Machine Head, I can safely say that I approached this CD without bias towards the band (although I admit I wasn't expecting utter garbage after reading the reviews on the site and seeing that this was UG's pick for number 3 metal CD of the year). The nice thing about this album is that it's a fine return to thrash sound. A lot of people are comparing it to "Master of Puppets", although I feel that due to it's lyrical themes it's closer to "...And Justice For All". I have to admit I find the first two minutes of Halo to be boring and repetitive, and a few other parts of the CD feel the same way. However, this problem has always plagued thrash (unless your CD is Reign In Blood"). The solos are good, but they're certainly not the greatness people make them out to be. However, the fact that this is the best "true" thrash record in the past ten years makes that almost negligible and in a way, like the ending of the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie, allows for more development in the next Machine Head outing. Don't buy the lie that all of those parts are complex, harmonies are not used as often as a lot of the advertising for the CD on the Internet makes you believe. And a lot of the riffs are doubled, which is fine, but it's not as complicated as the band members would have you be. Having 30 different riffs in a song does not necessarily mean complicated or complex, it means "hard to memorize". That being said, the CD variates so often that it's almost impossible to find it boring (except for the painful first two minutes of Halo).
Lyrics — 7
Rob Flynn is a fantastic metal singer. His lyrics are amateur and very clichd (which I know I'll get flamed for saying), but his singing makes up for most of the lyrics. The worst lyrics are on Aesthetics of Hate. Now, don't get me wrong because I know the story and know what the song is about, but the way he just cusses out the individual who was anti-Dimebag is juvenile and very traditional metal. The lyrics are their best on Clenching the Fists of Dissent, Halo, and A Farewell to Arms, all of which have excellent (but extremely biased) lyrics. Wolves is as good an ode to your fans as any, and Now I Lay Thee Down is beyond twisted, but in a good way. Aesthetics of Hate, unfortunately, almost ruins the whole CD though. They're pathetic and definitely ruin the song. It's not the only lyrical disappointment, but it is the biggest.
Overall Impression — 9
This album is perhaps the best thrash offering the metal community has heard since Shadows Fall released "The Art Of Balance" in 2002. Five years is a long time to wait for a great thrash album, but this one doesn't disappoint. It's modern thrash, and elements of metalcore are there, but if you've been waiting for an album to stomp nu-metal out of existence entirely, this is the one. By far the best songs on the album are Clenching the Fists of Dissent, Beautiful Mourning, Now I Lay Thee Down, Halo, and A Farewell To Arms, although I can recommend the whole thing. If this CD were stolen, I would probably find myself buying another copy as soon as possible (because killing the thief is a little extreme). If you're looking for a solid album with lots of potential for future Machine Head efforts, this is it!