UG Team, on march 27, 2007 8 of 9 people found this review helpful
Sound: It's hard to believe that only a few years back that Machine Head was going through what many in the press a decline. The discouraging description came as a result of being dropped from Roadrunner Records and the seemingly lackluster record sales of 2001's Supercharger, but events like those are not likely to repeat after the band's latest release. The Blackening proves that it could very quickly be co-headlining rather than opening for groups like Lamb Of God.
Although the band's last album Through The Ashes of Empires was undoubtedly a strong album that reintroduced Machine Head (vocalist/guitarist Robert Flynn, guitarist Phil Demmel, bassist Adam Duce, and drummer Dave McClain) as a powerful force in metal, this time around the Oakland, Ca., natives have really gone all-out in terms of exploring different styles and techniques. The fact that the average song length on The Blackening is over 7 minutes may intimidate some listeners, but if you hang in there it all becomes worth it.
The opener Clenching The Fists Of Dissent is one of the best tracks on the entire CD, with an insane amount of riffs filling the duration of the song. There is an eerie, soundtrack-like quality to the introduction when you hear vocalist/guitarist Robert Flynn's echoing vocals singing in a Middle Eastern-like style. A gentle acoustic guitar quietly takes over with some of the most gorgeous, melodic playing heard in a while. For those waiting for some metal added into the equation, patience will pay all off. At about 2 minutes into the song, there is an explosion of distortion that doesn't let up until pretty much the end of the 10-minute track. While there are an abundance of musical sections, breakdowns, and the like in Clenching The Fists Of Dissent, Machine Head accomplishes creating a song that still manages to keep your interest.
Although the band did seem to focus a lot of energy on the longer songs, thankfully the shorter songs weren't merely filler material. The best example is Slanderous, which is filled with scale-like progressions that often are harmonized. At 5 minutes long, it doesn't go in all of the different directions that Fists does, but it is actually just as effective. This is the kind of track that is a fun listen, and it's likely to be a song that a lot of guitar-playing fans out there will want to add to their repertoire. // 9
Lyrics: The themes in The Blackening's songs have as much diversity as the music underneath them. Unlike some metal bands out there, Machine Head displays everything from emotional instability to anger and everything in between.
In Beautiful Mourning, the title indicates an obvious sadness, but Flynn lays out plenty of other feelings along the way. You first hear a bellowing F--k you all, but it's not just a song geared towards hatred by any means. The song continues to talk about oppression, rejection, and a lack of control, it's lays out an assortment of feelings and emotions. Flynn also uses both his trademark growl and a more melodic singing approach that mirrors the changing emotions sung in Beautiful Mourning.
Probably the only problem is the fact that you can't always understand the lyrics because of the gruff delivery. The advance copy unfortunately didn't resolve this issue because there was not an accompanying lyric sheet, but it's likely that the band provided that and more when the official release date arrives. // 9
Overall Impression: Most are going to have a hard time finding any weak spots on The Blackening, with most of the 9 tracks delivering solid songwriting all the way through. For those who get antsy at any song that lasts more than 5 minutes, you're going to want to avoid it. But if you're musical appreciation goes beyond song length, The Blackening will have a lot to offer. The solo in Halo alone is worth the price of the record
The Blackening is an impressive showing from Machine Head, and it's absolutely refreshing to see them branch out into a more melodic approach and still maintaining the harder edge. The underlying melodies are incredibly memorable and don't get covered up along the way by unnecessary extras. Sure, the band admits that some songs have up to 20 different riffs in them, but Machine Head is still very effective at tying it all together in the end. // 9
mesaboogieman, on march 27, 2007 4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 10
Lyrics: 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. // 10
Overall Impression: 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. // 10
postmortem2006, on august 20, 2007 3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 10
Lyrics: 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. // 9
Overall Impression: 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! // 10
Nathan_393, on january 07, 2008 2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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). // 9
Lyrics: 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. // 7
Overall Impression: 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! // 9
Hoodoo Child, on february 19, 2008 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: I'll go through the album song by song.
01. Clenching The Fist Of Dissent - this 10 minute anthem of complete metal is by far the best song on this album. Don't be deceived by the slow, calm acoustic introduction. It is soon choking on the dust of the masterful electric guitar work from Phil Demmel and Robb Flynn that follows.
02. Beautiful Mourning - the introduction of the fast-paced guitars and cymbals from Dave McClain immediately sets the scene for this song. At 4:48, this song is the shortest on the album, but that doesn't mean it doesn't contain as much as the longer songs such as Wolves or Halo. It is packed with storming riffs and excellent drum work.
03. Aesthetics Of Hate - this song comes a close second to Clenching the Fist of Dissent as my favourite song on the album. Again, it has a slow introduction, but more of a build-up than the other songs, gradually adding drums, and finally entering into the full song. This song also features one of the best duel solos I have heard from Phil Demmel and Rob Flynn, and also some skilfull bass from Adam Duce.
04. Now I Lay Thee Down - a very strange introduction to a strange song. In my opinion, the worst song on the album. Rob Flynn actually SINGS more on this song, but I don't think it works. The riff is good, as is the musical quality of the whole song, but it doesn't quite fit after the quality of the first three songs.
05. Slanderous - I love the introduction to this song. A brisk pickscrape leads into the main riff, accompanied by a single "Dimebag squeal". The disappointment of Now I Lay Thee Down is certainly forgiven once you listen to this song.
06. Halo - this is the first of three consecutive 9 - 10 minute long songs on the album, and is probably the first time you distinctively hear Adam Duce on the bass. As the song progresses, it gets slowly and slowly more and more layered, pausing every now and again to let Robb Flynn's voice shine on its own. The chorus is the attraction in this song, as Rob is singing, not screaming, and it works very well in this instance.
07. Wolves - a very quick introduction starts this song, followed by Robb Flynn's cry of "Unleash the wolves". When the song gets into full swing, you hear a very catchy duel riff from the two guitarists, accompanied by lots of artificial harmonics!
08. A Farewell To Arms - another slower song, which becomes faster and heavier towards the end. However, the difference between this and Now I Lay Thee down is very apparent in terms of skill and vocals. This song rounds the album off very well, with slow but powerful riffs and layered guitars.
In all, a very decent rock/metal sound to the album. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics of this album are sometimes difficult to make out, but that doesn't mean they don't go with the music. They fit perfectly, and follow the standard of the music all the way through all 8 tracks. Robb Flynn has a unique voice and talent, as he can switch immediately from screaming and roaring powerful, amazingly gripping vocals to soft, flowing singing. The only problem for me on lyrics would be on "Now I Lay Thee Down" when I don't think that his voice works on some of the singing parts, especially the vocal solo towards the end. // 8
Overall Impression: If I compared this album to another Machine Head album, for example Burn My Eyes, I would say that I definitely prefer this. Its guitar work is a lot heavier and the solos are far more impressive. My favourite songs on the album are Clenching the Fist of Dissent and Aesthetics of Hate, the latter purely for the amazing duel solo. The things that I love most about the album are the guitar work, and also Dave McClain's skill on the drums. If I had to choose something to hate, it would be the fact that some songs can get a little boring after 8 minutes or so. If this album were stolen or lost, I would definitely buy it again! // 10
machine_head, on march 27, 2007 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: I've been listening to a prommotional CD all week. Well what can I say? This is probaly the heaviest and most brutal machine head album ever made. Throughout the album is a huge thrash metal influence (no doubt from rob and phils Vio-Lence days) with duelling guitar solos, killer druming from dave, and beautiful song writing. Unlike many modern bands, machine head have produced a incredible record with a wide range of inlfluences, whilst still sounding fresh and new. The album starts of with the ten minute opener "Clenching The Fists Of Dissent" an incredibly fast and heavy track with amazing solo's, Imperium seems tame in comparison! Throughout the album is some of the most technical, fastest and heaviest guitar work machine head has ever done. If you loved the old style machine head, you'll love this record! Dave Mcclain has to be one of the most underated drummers in Metal, his playing on the record is flawless, Hopefully when the record is realesed he will get the recognition he deserves! // 10
Lyrics: Rob has Returned to more of a social commentary style of writing (like Burn My Eyes) on this record. The vocals are powerful and angry for the most part. Vocal highlight of the record for me is the track "Halo" the chorus is one of their best MH has done. Another highlight on the album has to be "Asthetics Of Hate" which is a tribute to Dimebag Darrell. In the song robs expreses his disgust with the hatefull article written shortly after dimebags death. // 10
Overall Impression: The Blackening is simply the best album machine head has ever recorded (yes better then BME) no doubt plenty of people will disagree with me, but overall this record is superb, a breath of fresh air to metal. Compared to other bands? Most metal bands (e.g. Trivium and Avenged Sevenfold, KSE) just sound boring in comparison to the Blackening. Colin Richardsons production is Perfect. And the Albums surpases Through the Ashes of empires in every way. I think all fans of heavy metal (not just MH fans) will enjoy this record. // 10
thashat, on march 27, 2007 1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: My first listen to the album I could tell the band tried to make something epoch with much longer songs than the last cd. The initial song, "Clenching The Fists Of Dissent" really grabs you into the theme of this CD right away. What I can hear after listening to this CD is that at times it seems The band sometimes "tried too hard" to make long songs because there are parts of some songs that don't really mix into each other too well (transition at 4.31 into the first track being an example of what I am talking about for those who were lucky enough to get the album before the release date). This record sounds a lot like passed efforts by the band but with a lot more effort into evolving the song which ultimately keeps you interested into the songs all the way through. This album is full of a lot of very great riffs as you would expect from Machine Head and definitely gets your head bobbing with a lot of heavy chugging guitars. Robert Flynn does sing on this album of course and "Beautiful Morning" is a great example of his vocal work on the album. // 8
Lyrics: Overall Roberts Lyrics are very angry (4.15 into track 3 "Aesthetics Of Hate") is a great example of even when he is speaking very quietly you can hear his emotion he is pouring into this song. "May the hand of God strike them down." There are more examples but I will leave it up to you to explore them for yourself when you pick up the record in stores. // 8
Overall Impression: I would say this is a great follow up to passed records by Machine Head. They have added further technicality to their sound by experimenting with lengthening their songs which ultimately makes songs a lot less repetitive if you end up listening to them over and over again. One of the more impressive songs for me as a listener right now is "Aesthetics Of Hate" because of the main riff and that the song is very well constructed overall, although my opinion will probably change as I listen to the record more and more seeing as how I've only had it for less than a week. Only negative to the record is that some of the songs do not flow into each other as you would expect as which it almost seems like they just cut the track and slapped another track at the transition. // 8
nobles_cranium, on march 27, 2007 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: This is easily machine heads best album to date, I like I'm sure many others have been watching the videos on their official website previewing their album shoing them in the studio etc etc, and watching these made me aven more intent on getting this album, it is, for me the most anticipated album of 2007. The album itself is fantastic, robert flynn's vocal abilities are right up to scratch, and the music is mind blowing, each song has at least 4 top notch riffs, others have more, the best songs on the album for me are; 'Clenching The Fists Of Dissent', 'Halo' and 'Aesthetics Of Hate,' they all contain some brutal riffage and solos, 'Halo' and 'Clenching The Fists Of wbeing extremely diverse with melody mixed with brutal riffs and solos throughout. This album is what machine head set out to achieve 'just metal'. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics on the album are outstanding, and as expected generally very angry, the song with lyrics that stand out most for me is 'Aesthetics Of Hate', the song is a tribute to dimebag, the band knew him, and this song shows their pain and anger at the death, and the reaction of the media to it. There is one song in which I believe the lyrics are poor, and that is 'Wolves' the song is about themselves as a band, being like wolves, I suppose it represnets thier toughness and durability or something, but to me it just seems a little pathetic, and a bit gangsta rap style, where they spend an entire song boasting about how 'cool' and 'hard' they are and what amazing things theyv accomplished. However apart from this one disspaointment (for me) the lyrics are absolutely outstanding and as always with machine head, deal with topics such as discrimination and anger at the political/social situation of the world, and as always these are extremely effective and hard hitting. The singing itself fits perfecty with the music, and some of the more melodic singing on the album matches and combines with violent roars from flynn perfectly. // 9
Overall Impression: This album is t ebest album I have got in a long time, and I belive it will be the biggest metal album of 2007, it will not fail to impress or live up to expectations, in fact it was better than I first assumed it would be. If it were stolen or lost I would buy a new one definately then go and excrete on the persons face who stole it, hwoever it's on my itunes now so I wouldn't need to but I'd still be prtty pissed off. So yeah get this album. // 10
boyan89, on march 28, 2007 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: The first time I heard this album I was thinking what I was going to be in for. Then I heard the intro to the first song "Clenching The Fists of Dissent" and I knew Machine Head we're improved since Through The Ashes of Empires and I thought that was gonna be pretty hard to top considering TTAOE was their best album to date until this brilliant masterpiece came out. Holy Shit Phill And Rob do their best effort on this record it is absolutely brutal. A lot of the songs solo's average about 2-3 minutes, who knew a band that were dead could do this but they did and proved everyone wrong. The riffs on this album are displayed out very nicely and go along perfectly with the songs, also when they both harmonize during the solos that is just amazing. The drums on this album, Man where do I even begin Dave McLain has improved so much as a drummer on this album, his double bass is insane and just his overall use of drumming techniques is just brutal. Adam Duce one amazing bassist I'll tell you that much his riffs aeren't simple most of them are actually pretty hard and the intro he does in "Halo" is just awesome! So great sound I would give it a 30/10 because yes Machine Head have improved that much! // 10
Lyrics: This is Rob Flynn at his best vocal perfermance yet. Whether he is screaming, yelling or just singing with a melodic voice he proves it all on this album. You can tell that the lyrics aeren't your typical lyrics(I live in Ottawa and no one understands metal here except maybe a few 1000 people). They are your typical metal lyrics though but are expressed with a lot more anger than most bands out there today and none of them are about like dumping and shit like that all of them just want to smash you right in the face because Rob is a lyrical genious. // 10
Overall Impression: Machine Head overall cannot compare to this album. Can it compare to other Machine Head albums though, absolutely not this is the bands most progressing album ever. As I mentioned it has been the best release of the year so far. My favourite songs on this album have got to be well. I don't know because I don't think I have a favourite song on this album all of them have different musical approaches and yes they do have acoustic guitar on this album it is beautiful. Man who would hate this album (unless you listen to pussy music) taking into account the old shit I used to listen too until I found out about Metal and Machine Head. If it we're stolen/lost I would buy 5 f--king copies and give some of them to people to see how great this album is and tell them to throw away their Simple Plan shit or Green Day. // 10
trainwreck666, on march 28, 2007 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: The album has been in the making for over a year and for those impatient fans when you hear it you can see why. The music of this album technically surpasses all of the previous efforts from the band with some of the best vocal and guitar work I have ever listened to, this album is going to be big in the world of metal from the second you press play it sounds like an epic with the harmonised acoustic guitars and thunderous riffs. This is the new Master Of Puppets. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics of the album are all very dark and cover topics such as war, religion, death and love; the lyrics fit so well with the music. The lyrics are mainly focused on social commetary like burn my eyes. You can tell flynn has put a lot of thought into the lyrics and how he was going to sing them as they are not just a percusive instrument like some metal singers. Flynns skill as a singer and rhythm player has dramtically improved over the years and this album would even challenge hetfield as the greatist rhythm player, the choruses are big and the growl is getting better with flynn and his iron lungs. // 10
Overall Impression: As I said this album is the new master of puppets, there are no songs on the album that I dislike as all songs cover controversal subjects such as halo, this song looks at religion and it's bad points I believe flynn wrote the lyrics to that song after seeing that the church was trying to make abortions illegal. Every lead played has so much power to it and the lead trade offs between flynn and demmel are insane the guitar tone is so good it makes you drool at the mouth. If I lost this album I would go ape because the CD came with a DVD which is good to watch and after moping around for a few hours I would go to town to buy a few copies ensuring that it doesn't happen again. If you are a fan of metal music by this album. // 10
unregistered, on july 18, 2007 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 10
Lyrics: 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. // 10
Overall Impression: 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. // 10
wigman0001, on july 23, 2007 1 of 10 people found this review helpful
Sound: Now to me, when the band Machine Head are mentioned in conversation, I automatically think of there iconic album Burn My Eyes and start drueling and feeling a bit peculiar below the knees! For me, the sound of that album was not only a shining example to the style of music popular at the time, but encapsulates the intensity and aggression behind every not made to make the record. For The Blackening, I feel the sound lets the it down, and it doesn't convey the message that the band seem to want to put across as well as it could do. I appreciate that due to the media hype over this record, they probably wouldn't have been allowed to release a record that sounded as 'dirty' as Burn My Eyes or The More Things Change, I think this is a crying shame, and love to one day hear the tracks of The Blackening mixed as though they had been recorded ten years ago. Admittedly, this is a very personal preference, and there will probably be a long line of people ready to try and shoot my ideas down in flames. If you like albums to sound incredibly polished and 'smooth', then you will have no problem with this album. If, like me, you like the aggressive sound of albums such as Burn My Eyes, The Great Southern Trendkill and anything by Hatebreed, then I think the sound of this album is something you might be a little disappointed with. // 6
Lyrics: As always with Robb Flynn, his lyrics are emotionally truthful, contemporary, and politically astute. Though this band (which I must point out is possibly my favourite metal band in existance)has had it's trouble's with relatively unsuccessful albums, lyrical content ha never been a problem. The lyrics in The Blackening bring to mind the impact of the media, organised religion, and current warfare across the world. After I listened to this album several times, I still felt I hadn't completely grasped some of the compelling lies within some of the songs, I don't find this a bad thing! They are the sort of lyrics that aren't as black and white as a lot of bands lyrics can be, they allow to ponder the issues being sung about, and realise the exact message trying to be put across. // 8
Overall Impression: Overall, young kids who have never hear of Pantera, Anthrax and early Machine Head records will get a hold of this album, and love it to bits. It's inevitable that albums nowadays have to try and incorperate 'what sells', and it's for this reason that there is more guitar-based soloing and harmonic riffage than ever really heard on a Machine Head Record. (I blame Trivium). There are some absolutely storming tracks on this album. Wolves, which to me seems to be a tribute to Metallica, is a trash metal song that will never get old. Also, tracks like 'Beautiful Mourning', 'Halo' and 'Aesthetics of Hate' really seend the message through the music that the band are mightally pissed off. Unfortunately, other tracks such as 'Slanderous' and 'Clenching the Fists of Descent' are disappointing for me. The first track on the album 'Clenching the Fists of Descent', just seems to be 'Imperium' Part II, structurally, musically, and ideologically. I didn't want to hear 'Imperium' the sequel! In conclusion, I like this album, I like all Machine Head albums, but I was more disappointed than I hoped I wasn't going to be. // 7
Shabalaba, on september 20, 2007 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: As the CD starts, there is a feedback/ reverb sound with some vocals, then an acoustic comes in, but then the mood of the song changes when an electric comes with slight distortion, then a fast, distorted riff brings you into Clenching Fists of Dissent, as soon as this starts you know what is to come fast solos, riffs that are heavy as harsh vocals. On the next song Beautiful Morning another heavy fast riff comes in, then Robb screams f--k you all the chorus of this song is melodic and heavy at the same time, a ace solo comes in next. Then Aesthetics of Hate comes in with one of best intros on the CD, and one of the most catchy songs on the album, the guitar solo begins with a very, very cool riff then pounds into a powerful solo. The next song is Now I Lay Thee Down with what I think is the best intro on the album and one of my favourite songs on the album, due to the fact of the melodies in the verse, excellent guitar work, harsh vocals and excellent lyrics. Slanderous has a cool rhythm for the main verse, the type of rhythm you would bounce to in the crowd. Halo is next up with a clean reverby into which goes into a heavy riff with pitch every so often, one of the best songs on the album. Wolves begins with Robb shouting Unleash the wolves pounding into the intro solo, one of my favourite songs because of the catchy verse with super-fast guitar work. With a big intro and a lot of melodies A Farewell to Arms begins but don't worry that soon gets heavy with some killer guitaring. Possibly the greatest cover next, Metallica's Battery is one of the best songs on the album, for those who haven't heard the original it was on Master of Puppets and it was amazing when Metallica did it but Machine have just made it better. // 10
Lyrics: I think Robb wrote most of lyrics for the album, and he did a good job. The song Aesthetics of Hate was inspired by a news journalist who was saying bad things about Dime the day after he died, which is harsh, so Machine Head wrote a killer songs about it. His singing skills are fabulous, incorporating harsh growls with melodic parts, which makes the song Now I Lay Thee Down shine through. // 10
Overall Impression: This band is amazing, I just love their music. I love the sound of Machine Head, the guitar work in this album is the type of guitar I want to play, heavy riffs, Harmonies and fast technical parts. This album is a definite buy for any metal fan, and it is Machine Heads greatest album. I Bought the Special edition version because of the DVD, and it is great a 30 min documentary on the making of The Blackening, and them on sounds of the Underground. I thought the art work on this album was amazing and just everything about was amazing. My favourite songs on this album are Clenching Fists of Dissent, Aesthetics of Hate, Now I Lay Thee Down and Slanderous. I play this album all the time and is definitely my favourite album. // 10
unregistered, on october 31, 2007 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: When most bands open and close an album with political songs, you know that the album will suck and the band will turn into another cheap minion of Bob Geldoff. However, with The Blackening, you barely notice that the songs are anti-war, because they're just so damned awesome. The first song [Clenching The Fists Of Dissent] begins with a low swirling intro, which is then joined by Flynn singing in a middle-eastern style. Then you hear a tender melody, played out on accoustic guitar. The sound begins to intensify until it explodes into a relentless thrashfest, which barely lets up until the end of the track, some 10 minutes later. The sound on this album is brutal and very heavy, yet somehow still accessible to fans of lighter music. When I showed this to my ska-punk and Indie loving friends, it wasn't long before they were headbanging and air guitaring along. // 10
Lyrics: In a time where the mainstream's lyrics seem to be going downhill ('I said I'd rather be wiv your friends mate, 'cos their much fi'er') the lyrics in metal seem to be on the up. It is quite clear that Flynn has been writing like a bitch since Throught the Ashes, and he has come up with some gems. The post solo in Aesthetics of Hate ('Long live memories, live his freedom vicariously') sounds like it could have been written by a poet or bard. Also the manner in which he delivers the words is amazing. I find it quite hard to understand how he can switch from soaring melodies to the ferocious growling as quickly and effectively. Over the course of the album, his lyrics seem to summarise the feelings of extreme loathing to fevered moaning and everything in between. If I arrive home extremely angry, all I have to do is stick this album on and the agression and power of the vocals help release me emotion. // 10
Overall Impression: This album doesn't really seem to fit in with the times. It isn't drowning in sea of all the pathetic metalcore pretenders, and they've not gone for the let's get listeners by being uber-contravertial. As with Lamb Of God, there is no real movement for them to ride the back of, and yet this album is something special. I can't choose any standout tracks, but my favourite bit at the moment is in Halo, when everything has dropped to a whisper and suddenly, there's a massive and moving vocal harmony between Flynn and Duce. If this album was stolen, I would search for the thief, bludgeon them to a pulp, and then act out the lyrics to Slayer's Angel of Death on them. Or just buy another. // 10
Hammerzeit, on february 16, 2008 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: When I picked this up, the following went through my head. "Cool, a new MH album, If it's half as good as the last one it'll be ok". So I bought it, went home, stuck it on, expected nothing special. Then I got hit by "The Blackening". This album is Machine Head's masterpiece. Written in the aftermath of the death of Dimebag Darrell, this is the first real classic album we've had, since possibly Nirvana's Nevermind. In terms of Thrash and all things heavy, this is the best and most important release since Master Of Puppets in 1986. We've waited 21 years, it's here. Sonically, unlike Machine Head's previous efforts, This is a more progressive/thrash album, Laden with riffs, Guitar harmonies and plenty of aggression. There are only 8 tracks, However the shortest is 5 minutes long, with two 10 minute epics. Machine Head wrote this mainly in dropped B tuning (i.e. strings with channel tunnel diameters) but with one song (Aesthetics of Hate, written on a guitar given to Robb Flynn by Rita Abbott (dimebag's girl) which were in standard D tuning. There are beautiful clean sections such as the start of the opener "Clenching The Fists Of Dissent" and "Aesthetics Of Hate" mixed with heavily distorted riffs laden with Harmonics. The Guitar work is exceptional musicianship, The Bass solid and dependable and the drumming perfect. Above all the Robb Flynn growl is there and back to it's raw best. Overall Machine Head sound like a well oiled machine. I can find very little fault. // 10
Lyrics: Robb Flynn sticks mainly to obvious topics for his lyrical inspiration (War in "Clenching The fists Of Dissent" and "A Farewell To Arms", drugs in "Halo" and Love lost in "Now I Lay Thee Down"). The Lyrical hilight of the album is Aesthetics of Hate, a glowering tribute to Dimebag Darrell whilst showing the metal communities attitude to William Grimm, a nay sayer who spoke bad things aboout metal fans after Dime's Death. Robb Flynn screaming the words "Long live memories, living freedom vicariously" will live long in my memory. The lyrics Definitly suit the music. They are almost like a different instrument. Talent wise, Robb Flynn is never gonna be as good as Corey Taylor and Robb Halford, but Boy is he getting close. The growl is brilliant as usual and there are some clean vocals in there too. Certainly his best performance so far on a MH album. // 9
Overall Impression: 01. Clenching The Fists Of Dissent - this song epitomises "The Blackening" and sets the the bar very high for what is to come. The song starts with clean vocals and guitar for about 1 min 45. Then what I consider to be the riff of 2007 kicks in. The riff is immense and the distortion does not relent for the rest of the song. There are 2 sweet solos, a bass break and More riffs than I've written in a life time. Can't think of a better opening track. Even Battery (to which it bears serious similarities). Only downside is that it's 10 and a half minutes long.
02. Beautiful Mourning - this continues where the opener left off, Riff heavy, neat solos, cracking vocals from Flynn. The opening line to this song is a bellowed "F--k you all!" That is always a winner with me.
03. Aesthetics Of Hate - the Dimebag Darrell tribute track. Brilliantly done. Dime would be proud. Two excellent riffs, Massive solo section and brilliant lyrics. I bet William Grimm feels Small now!
04. Now I Lay Thee Down - this is a love song, machine head style. Great bass guitar harmony here. Not my favourite song but good nonetheless.
05. Slanderous - relatively simple song, based around one riff. One of the shorter tracks. Good solo. Lyrics deal with bullying and racism. This isn't played live because Flynn allegedly can't play the riff whilst singing.
06. Halo - this is the best track off "The Blackening". it's nine minutes long yet somehow seems way shorter. there's a Bass led intro, a riff that keeps pummeling you and a massive chorus. Then there's the typical MH breakdown, followed by the solo section to dominate all solo sections. It lasts 1 minute and 40 seconds and it's just one of those classics, like "Sweet Child 'O Mine" or "One". It has it all. If you even vaguely like metal, download. Now.
07. Wolves - this is IMO the albums weakest song, Still good though. The lyrics are about how crazy fans get at shows. Good solo's and riffs but a little long.
08. A Farewell To Arms - a perfect and melodic closer, something I thought MH couldn't pull off. Clean vocal intro again. Robb Flynn is lyrically strong on this song. Solos are brilliant. War Themed lyrics and a perfect close. They played this on the first Brixton night of the Black crusade and I was awed. It definiltly seems like it's 11 mins long though, which it is.
Overall, it's pretty awesome but a couple of tracks prevent me from giving it 10, I believe that it's a very strong album. If I lost it, it buy it again for certain. If you like metal, you shouldn't really hate this album and if you're looking for a place to start with Machine Head. This is definitly it. Welcome back MH. // 9
thisHATEinside, on march 01, 2008 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 10
Lyrics: 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. // 10
Overall Impression: 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. // 10
FinalDivinity, on march 28, 2008 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: The sound of "The Blackening" is beautiful, angry, and full of tone. This album may be considered the album of the decade. "The Blackening" represents this generation's return to true metal. The sound of Machine Head will crush you at certain points and then draw you into a beautiful melodic sense. Whether you've heard Machine Head before, or just like metal, you will respect this album. There is a large thrash influence on this record. The guitar tone on this album is incredible, the cleans have a slight flanger with delay, making them sound distant and mysterious, yet drawing you in to listen closer. The heavy distortion will blow your mind. This album has incredible tone, beautiful cleans, and uniquely crafted solos that will make you simply go "wow." // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics on this album are influenced by the world around us. They were not written neccesarily to inspire us to but to make us think. The album obviously is very political with songs such as "Clenching the Fists of Dissent" and "A Farewell to Arms", obviously relating to the horrors of war. "Beautiful Mourning" is written possibly about a murder/rape and find yourself waking up to see this tragedy the next morning. "Aesthetics of Hate" is written about an article that said anyone mourning the loss of Dimebag Darrell was pathetic and ugly, it was also written to symbolize the opression that many listeners to heavy metal encounter. "Now I Lay Thee Down" is written as a Romeo & Juliet brought into modern context, possibly written to show the suffering a spouse or child can go through when they find out their father/husband has lost his life in war. "Slanderous" is written about social opression and stereotypes a person can receive, simply because of a person's race or what they choose to do in life. "Halo" is a song describing organized-religion and how it can cause one to be blind, by following words that you are told, whether they be truthful or not. "Wolves" describes Machine Head's "Winner Take All Spirit" and savageness of their fans. The singing style of Robb Flynn is not melodic, but very angry, but somehow makes almost perfect sense when put in context with the lyrics and music style. They are heavily thrashed influnced vocals, but are not purely thrash as exemplified on songs such as "Now I Lay Thee Down." The vocal styling would be strange if it were any different on this album. // 9
Overall Impression: This album is certainly a beacon of light in today's scene of what people consider "metal." The songs "clenching the Fists of Dissent" and "A Farewell to Arms" are the most diverse songs on this album, demonstrating multiple vocal and musical styles. "Aesthetics of Hate" is commonly considered the song that best represents a true metal anthem on this album. There are no fillers on this album, every song serves as a transition to the next while remaining an incredible song in it's own right. There is nothing you can hate on this album! If you are a person who cannot stand the truth or cannot stand "bad" words, you will find this album very offensive, but if you listen to it the way it was written, it will make you think twice about everything you see in the media and the world today. This is is still the album to own a year after it's release. // 10
Titansfan920, on april 08, 2008 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: So my friend gives me a call saying he has tickets to the Rockstar Mayhem Tour. I look up and see that Machine Head is on it, however I had never listened to them, although I read their stuff was good. So I figured I would give the CD a shot. Wow I'm blown away by this band. How I never heard them is beyond me. They play fast complicated riffs and the combination of this with Flyn's monster growls with his sometimes soulfull singing, you have something very unique and original. Lastly, I just have to say, Halo is probably one of the greatest songs I've ever heard in my life. It's so epic, I can't stop listening to it. // 10
Lyrics: The songs on The Blackening are very well written. My favorite song lyric wise definatly goes to "Aesthetics of Hate", a song written against William Grim in response to an article where he praised the death of Dimebad Darrell. The whole CD is well written and full of emotion. It's hard to find negatives about it. The singing is the perfect mix of scream, anger-ridden growls and smooth vocals. // 10
Overall Impression: As for overall impression, I will go out on a limb(yet a very short one) and say this could possibly be one of the greatest CDs of all time. The band is pretty popular but they still don't get the justice they deserve. I looked really hard to find some negatives and really just couldnt do it. One thing that's for sure, I am definatly going to get the rest of the Machine Head cd's and I suggest any metal fan to give this album a listen. // 10
Orion999, on january 29, 2009 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: *This is a rating for the special edition, which includes the band's covers of "Battery" by Metallica and "Hallowed Be Thy Name" by Iron Maiden.
This is one of the best albums I have heard in a long time. I have been searching for a while for another band that I could really sink my teeth into, and Machine Head is quickly becoming a front-runner. I only started listening to them a few months ago when I found out they were going to be opening at a show I was going to. In an effort to be a good fan I picked up some of their material and it turns out I did myself a huge favor. Virtually everything about the sound of this album is epic and satisfying. The guitars have an awesome rich and colorful sound that seethes with power. The drums are ultra loud, ultra heavy, and really add a whole additional dimension to the music (rather than just being a beat-keeper, a la AC/DC). The bass is also a very satisfying element in the album.
I'll tackle the bass first: Machine Head has definately strayed from the unfortunate metal trend of de-emphasizing the bass to the point of almost non-existence. Yet on this album it truly has it's own voice, and makes good use of it. Machine Head have taught me how a bass can add much to a metal song. I used to think it just shadowed the rhythm guitar, and I felt that when people tried to bring out the bass in metal (like Mudvayne) it brought in a weird almost funk flavor that subtracked from the power of the music. But on "The Blackening" the bass adds it's own deep growling voice to the instrumental mix that adds a sweet sinister bottom end presence and works with the drums to that they feed off eachother.
Drums: Dave McClain is sick. Kontos had some dirty fills on "Burn My Eyes," but I think he is overshadowed by McClain, if not before, then certainly on this album. Dave's double bass drumming and speed add a concussive force to the mix of the album that just brings it's sound and power to the next level. Moreso than just the power of his sound, though, McClain's drumming is interesting. It never just shadows the rhythm parts, or maintains any one beat for too long. He uses a variety of patterns and styles meshed together to created an energetic and enduring sound.
Guitars: Well I love the bass and the drums, but honestly "The Blackening" is all about the guitars. Demmel and Flynn shred together on this album like a modern Downing and Tipton. They sound the way A7X should. The riffs are brutal and sick; the slow and clean sections are melodic and beautiful and provide excellent contrast to the heavy distortion; and the solos are like a gift from the gods of metal. I have not heard guitar solos that were as interesting in a long time- at least in metal. That's not to say that there aren't other extremely talented guitarists out there, but the writing on this album is flawless. Flynn and Demmel switch rhythm and solo parts, dual solo, and compliment each other much like the bass and the drums in a way that makes them both stronger. The dual soloing sounds like a composition rather than a competition and it puts the solos a cut above the rest in a way that only Wylde, Darrell, and Slash have done in recent history (excepting some of the better new releases from Judas Priest and Iron Maiden).
As for the songs, they are excellent as well. There are moments where the momentum lags a little, and where the songs start to "feel" long. But these are few and far between. For the most part, the band has managed to craft epic tunes with great skill; this keeps the songs interesting and makes them rewarding to work through as a listener. // 10
Lyrics: I like to split this section into two parts: vocals and lyrics.
Lyrics: 6 to 7. This is a difficult section for me to be objective on, and I admit that up front. I don't love some of Flynn's lyrics. They certainly aren't bad by any means, but they are often not great either. They're usually good (and I do mean good, not mediocre). I find them a little obvious in places, and they're also too political for me at times. I love "Clenching the Fists" and "Halo" but the lyrics are a little heavy-handed. Of course it's Flynn's right to express himself, and I don't mean to suggest he shouldn't, I just personally find that sometimes when a message is too in your face it takes away from the overall quality of an album. For that reason, I get tired of Rage Against the Machine very quickly even though I like the band. But, like I said, the lyrics overall are good, and most of the time they work really well with the songs and add to the enjoyment of the album. I particularly enjoy the lyrics of "Aesthetics of Hate" and "Wolves."
Vocals: 8.5. What may well be more important than the lyrics themselves for the sound of an album is their delivery, and Flynn's is really good. He has a powerful voice, and his roars are visceral and satisfying. Clearly Phil Anselmo is a huge influence here, and Flynn does him proud. There are times when he lacks some of the melodic tone that would add to his performance, but for the most part he sounds sick and adds the icing to the cake for this album. He is particularly good on "Hallowed Be Thy Name" and demonstrates a good, solid range. // 8
Overall Impression: "The Blackening" isn't perfect; there are a few minor areas where the album could be "fine tuned." And if you ask what I do reserve a 10 for, it would be albums like Vulgar Display of Power and Master of Puppets, or Kill 'Em All- you know, the ones that change music forever. But I want to stay positive; the album is top-knotch and should be in any self-respecting head banger's collection. The instrumental sound is excellent, the vocal performance is very strong, and the soloing blazes. More importantly, all the parts of the album work well together and the songs are well-written and crafted. Nearly all of the twists and turns throughout the album's many riffs and pieces remain captivating and take the listener on an insanely sick journey... not for the faint of heart.
On a final note, for anyone thinking about picking up the album, I just want to offer a few parts I found particularly satisfying: first of all, it's worth it to get the special edition because it has some nice extras and both covers are good. This is particularly true of "Hallowed Be Thy Name"- Flynn's vocals might be at their best here. Second, the beginning, solo, and breakdown (immediately post-solo) of "Clenching the Fists of Dissent" are really really sick. The beginning of "A Farewell to Arms" is equally sick. "Hallowed Be Thy Name" is sick. "Aesthetics of Hate" is an excellent song (and a truly worthy tribute to the Dime), particularly near the beginning of the song where Flynn and Demmel have the alternating slide riffs that escalate almost like sirens- one of the coolest riffs I've ever heard.
Moral of the story: pick it up... if you have balls. // 9
Eurasian_C, on february 18, 2009 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Before I ever bought this album, Machine Head was just a metal band whose name I'd heard of countless times. Their brutal live reputation lead me to buy this CD last year, and I must say that this is still one of the best musical purchases I'd ever made. The music is everything that I love in metal: fast, thrashy, heartfelt and more shout-screaming vocals, great low-end, and probably some of the best drums I've heard production wise and skill wise. The songwriting is just so dead on amazing. Nowadays, there are so many bands that play too melodically, some play really dirty, and some try to really blend the two well but not successfully. I feel that for a record, not only has Machine Head done this with flying colors, but they've seriously made quite the epic record.
01.Clenching The Fists of Dissent: probably one of the craziest songs I've ever heard in modern metal. The intro starts off with this atmospheric, yet eery Middle Eastern vocal styling (which I guess is being done by Robb Flynn? ) and then into this classical guitar melody fortified by war-like beating snares. My favorite part of the song is definitely the 7-10 track layered crowd chant of "FIGHT! FIGHT!" because it just brought the song to a whole new level of bad ass. And the breakdown at the end is just incredible.
02.Beautiful Mourning: the first riff ensues while there is a hesitant guitar scratching going on until things finally tighten up. By the time Robb goes "f--k YOU ALL," all of Hell breaks loose with the pummeling guitars and blistering double bass. What I really liked the most about this certain song is the guitar melodies on the chorus-like part, "This lifetime in sorrow, God let the angels die... " Robb and Adam's vocals really come together and compliment each other on this part.
03.Aesthetics of Hate: there's only one word that can really describe this song: rage. Right from the fading in drum beat, one could only imagine the chaos that would come shortly after. When it comes to guitar work, Robb and Phil just bring on the thrash and the dirty riffs on this part, while adding in the glorious intricate guitar harmonies and solos. Robb's visceral and barking vocals really shine in this song.
04.Now I Lay Thee Down: the clean eery guitar in the beginning draws the listener in to a bludgeoning 3/4 melodic wall of guitars and drums. The tom work in the verses really bring the eeriness of this song out while the guitars lay low. Robb's vocals, once again, shine through because not only can he scream in pitch like a champ, but he also has very awesome clean singing abilities. This definitely comes out in the chorus, strongly back by soaring melodies from the guitars. The solos, while short, are extremely complimentary to the song.
05.Slanderous: this song is just plain dirty and heavy. From the moment the whole band goes into the first riff, everything is just ridiculously heavy. The breakdown that goes after the first chorus is by far one of my favorites in this album because of the shrill chords inbetween the palm mutes. The solo work, as always, is nothing short of astonishing.
06.Halo: the clean, ambient intro leads into one of the dirtiest and heaviest riffs I've heard on this album. Followed by face melting guitar harmonies and solos and rib-sticking moshy-riffs, this song is nothing short of epic. Not only that, it's extremely well written and free-flowing. The solos in this song are absolutely off the wall as well.
07.Unleash The Wolves: awesome song all around, but it's a little flawed in my opinion. There are some times that it can get a bit repetitive with the part of "unleash The Wolves! Carnage Has No Rules... " The guitar work on here though is absolutely killer. There is a breakdown in this song that is just absolutely tight and in the pocket. And what can I say, Rob's vocals are just that awesome that they push this song to it's heaviest extent!
08.A Farewell To Arms: the most epic song I've heard to date. An undisputed anthemic and melodic masterpiece with clean and then heavy guitar work, awesome drum work, and the best example of Rob's vocal diversity on this album. For a song that's 10:13, people would think that they'd lose interest and attention within five minutes; no freakin' way, this song has you pretty much hooked throughout the whole thing. The song ends in a very Metallica-esque freight train fashion which all the more compliments the song and drives it home. // 10
Lyrics: When it comes to overall lyrical impressions, this has to be Rob Flynn's finest yet. From watching the Making of The Blackening on the website, he stated that there's so much stuff out there in our country and the world that could make someone so angry that why would he just write about heartache like everyone else? His lyrics have always been very dark yet passionate, political and personal; but The Blackening is by far the perfect blend of both those realms, whether it be from the stampeding war anthem of "Clenching The Fists of Dissent" to the dark and eery "Now I Lay Thee Down". Out of all the songs though, my favorite one will have to be "A Farewell To Arms." The lyrics in that song are so deep, dark, and pensive, circulating around the losses experienced from the war, but then ridden with rage and resolve. One line that really caught me was "Who has won when we're all dead" not only because it's deep, but it's sung in such a way that even though it's a small line, it has such emotion and meaning to it. The overall compliance of the lyrics to the songs is just downright perfect, and I could not imagine them in any other way.
Rob's singing has been an influence to metal singers all around, especially to incoming thrash metal bands such as Trivium and BFMV. His overall deliverance of the lines is just spot on perfect. Watching him in the studio (on the documentary), he really put forward his best performance in each song. His diverse range from the thrashy, shouting, yet on pitch singing to the soaring, clean vocals comes out perfectly on this record. // 10
Overall Impression: There have been many bands that I've liked and checked out, but neither of them have such a standing in my mind as Machine Head. "The Blackening" won Best Metal Album 2007 from Metal Hammer, what more could you expect? In this record, they've captured the best of what they do, from the writing to capturing the live aspects. For me, this album is a perfect listen, and if anyone stole it I'd buy it again. // 10
SGofawesome, on january 27, 2010 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Machine Head is a thrashy progressive metal band who has one of the best metal CD's of all time, and that is The Blackening. Rob Flynn actually states that they listened to Rush's album, A Farewell To Kings while writing this album. It's hands-down the best metal album of the new millenium, and they're saying their next one will be even better.
For the sound, I don't know how they make it sound this good. The guitars have so many harmonics in them i can't even count. It's crazy. Dave McClain is a showoff on this album, and it works too. His drumming will blow anyone away, except for Neil Peart, that is.
This album has a nice tone, not very rough, it's a clean distortion, which fits really well. The solos are impossible, Halo has some of the best guitar soloing I have ever heard, but Clenching the fists of dissent has the best opening riff, excluding that acoustic intro. // 10
Lyrics: Overall, the album has amazing singing and lyrics, there isn't a song on here that has poor lyrics, Halo and Now I Lay Thee Down have the best lyrics and vocals. You can't deny the raw power of Rob Flynn's voice. Beautiful Mourning has the best lyrics over Halo and Now I Lay Thee Down though. The amazing "f--k You All!" at the beginning foretells that song is going to be pure thrash, and you got it right. Halo has some amazing lyrics as well, but Now I lay Thee Down has the best singing.
Overall Impression: Now to break it down:
01. Clenching The Fists Of Dissent: I about shit bricks when i first heard this opening riff. I heard the acoustic intro, and being me, I already wrote it off as a gay song, but decided to give it a chance. I was wrong, and was eating my words. Best riff on the whole album, amazing two solos, and the breakdown where Phil Demmel and Adam Duce shout "Fight, Fight, Fight!" is orgasmistic. One problem, it's way too dragged out. 9.5/10
02. Beautiful Mourning: the first time I heard this was on Guitar Hero Metallica. Never thought you could get interested into Machine head off a video game? Think again. This song is amazing in every way, has a sweet solo, and the opening riff is amazing. 9/10
03. Aesthetics Of Hate: nice intro, love the way the drums enter. Just too dragged out though. The guitar work is awesome, no denying that. Just listen to Dave thrash around on the drums, that's the best part. 9/10
04. Now I Lay Thee Down: a softer song, but the chorus makes up for that. Best vocals here, a truly amazing song, but I'm not that into the clean riff. 8/10
05. Slanderous: the worst song on the album, but still isn't that bad. I don't listen to this song very much, so I'll leave it at that. 7.5/10
06. Halo: and here it is. Just listen to it and you will get what I mean. The intro with the bass is soooo awesome, the one time you actually hear Duce. The solo is better than any other, and the length of the song is perfect. 10/10
07. Wolves: a good follow-up to Halo, amazing guitar, parts at breakneck speed, this song isn't memorable, but it sure is amazing guitar. Not great vocals however. 8.5/10
08. A Farewell To Arms: a perfect way to close this amazing album. Man, I gotta tell ya this song is perfect. If you hate this song, just get off this page. It has amazing acoustics, and where it has distortion, it blows you away. 9.5/10
Most impressive songs are
Clenching The Fists Of DissentBeautiful MourningHaloA Farewell To Arms
I would definitely buy this again if I lost it. // 10