Sound — 10
The first time I heard this band was the week this album came out, and listening to it all I can say, even now, is "Holy (enter expletive of choice here)!" This was almost as memorable as the first time I heard "Master of Puppets." How fitting that is, because I am certain that "The Blackening" is this generation's Master of Puppets. As far as I'm concerned about, they had some serious balls in the album's length and style. Coming off getting kicked off their label and releasing their first album in 4 years from a band based on songs like "Davidian" and "Old," they really did hit the ground not running, but rocketing, switching from pure groove metal to almost thrash, and making it sound great. Only one song is less than 5 minutes long, and it begins and ends on songs over ten minutes long. When I see an album like that it ends up boring me to death, but each song actually feels much shorter because each is jam-packed with breathtaking riffs and solos. The band also proves that they can pull off emotional parts and not make them sound lame, but even just as awesome, i.e. Beautiful Mourning and Halo. The drums are also insane, and Rob Flynn's voice is just so sick that it alone makes you want to headbang.
Lyrics — 10
Machine Head's lyrics have always been somewhat varied over the years, ranging from the Waco Branch Davidian standoff in "Davidian" to family issues Rob has in "Days Turn Blue To Gray." On this album for the most part MH decides to turn up the political factor a lot, which for any recent band other than System of a Down has turned into a complete disaster (Trivium and Megadeth). However, the political themes on this album don't just beat you over the head like those bands, relying on symbolism and satire instead. The only somewhat slip-up on lyrics is a minor and indirect one; the irony of writing the song "Aesthetics of Hate," which already almost any metalhead can quote verbatim, and then writing the song "Slanderous" about why people hate each other. Then again, perhaps this is actually in Machine Head's favor, because it shows the difference between righteous anger (such as that directed at the author of "Aesthetics of Hate") and unjust anger, like attacking people because of race or religion. The lyrics may not be the most looked-at part of this album, but to me they are just as classic as the album itself.
Overall Impression — 10
Really there is not much left to say about this album, so I'll just answer the questions they give above the text box. "Does it compare to other albums (artists)?" Well, really it is probably the biggest stand-out album of 2007 as far as metal as a whole goes, and it really is to see a major band go back to metal's roots and yet make it original and headbang-worthy. "What are the most impressive songs from the album?" Even though every song to me deserves a 10/10, easy, those that are the top 3 are the now-classic "Aesthetics of Hate", "Now I Lay Thee Down" and "Halo." "What do you love about it? What do you hate?" I love the guitars, drums, vocals, lyrics, and bass when you can hear it, and really the only two things I don't like is that the bass a lot of times can't be heard very well (rather common unfortunately), but it sounds great when it gets to stand out, and that the album ends. "If it were stolen/lost, would you buy it again or get something else?" I don't think I even need to answer that question after writing this whole article. Basically, if you are one of the few metalheads who HAS NOT heard this album, buy it, even if you didn't like Machine Head's other studd, because it really is a classic, as corny as it sounds. If I could, I would give "The Blackening" an 11/10.