Sound — 9
Machine Head doesn't disappoint with their seventh studio album "Unto The Locust" by progressing musically while still keeping their signature low and heavy sound. Overall "Unto The Locust" is in general faster than their albums before and they incorporate more of a melodic feel with even a slight touch of neoclassical sound. The album is very well mixed with a prominent powerful sound. 01. "I Am Hell": The album opens with arguably one of Machine Head's heaviest songs yet. The song screams "neoclassical" with a intro completely comprised of Rob Flynn's vocals layered in a Latin chant. The song explodes into a section of sheer heaviness that consists of layered vocals before going into a balls to the wall thrash metal with Rob barking mercilessly about a female arsonist fueled by passion. After several insane solos, the song breaks down into a soft interlude played on the classical guitar, one of my favorite endings on the CD. Don't miss this song. 02. "Be Still And Know": This song opens up with a very Iron Maiden like lead guitar lick that showcases how melodically driven the album as a whole is. the song features some very varied vocal ranges while remaining very guitar driven. The verse riffs have a very cool Lamb Of God styled groove to them,and the song wouldn't be complete without the very intricate dual guitar solos toward the end. 03. "Locust": The title track has everything that any heavy metal fan would want. This seven and a half minute epic builds up from a slow cleanly strummed riff into a monster of a song that doesn't come short in heavy riffs and hooks that will be stuck in your head for days. The guitar solo battle in the middle is a huge highlight of the song and and there are very clear influences from early Kirk Hammet and Dave Mustain. 04. "This Is The End": The fastest song on the album opens with another classical guitar lick. The song showcases lightning fast tremolo picking and ferocious drumming by Dave McClain. It has a slight metalcore feel to it, and showcases how well all the instruments of the band can work so well together. 05. "Darkness Within": An instant classic, this song incorporates some of the finest lyrics written by Rob to date: "Because God is in these clef and tone, salvation is found alone, Haunted by its melody, Music, it will set you free." Though the song may be off putting to pure thrash fans, the song has a haunting feel to it. It is a very hard song to put into words, but it is the most emotional song on the album, and is very vocal driven. 06. "Pearls Before The Swine": A very complex and less catchy song on the album, "Pearls Before The Swine" is very rhythm driven and has a darker vibe to it. The song progresses riff by riff before ending with an insanely heavy guitar lick. An overall solid song, but I find it slightly monotonous. 07. "Who We Are": The last song opens with a choir comprised of the bands offspring singing pretty badly off key. A very anthem-y song, it has a lot of cool guitar parts and a hell of an epic ending, but lacks anything that the band hasn't had yet.
Lyrics — 10
Rob Flynn brings amazing vocals to the table with some of his best written lyrics yet and a lot of vocal maturity and increased range. The lyrics in the songs "I Am Hell" and "Darkness Within" are especially great. His raw anger fits perfectly with the lyrics and the instruments on every song. If you are unfamiliar with Robs vocals, the are much more emotional rather than distorted, and he uses a lot of clean singing and growling. In essence, he sounds like a pissed off guy screaming in your ear rather than Satan, which really separates him from a lot of other modern metal vocalists. His singing is very well produced and almost always layered, particularly in this album.
Overall Impression — 9
"Unto The Locust" is just as good as, if not better than, their previous album "The Blackening". The complexity, intricacy, and skill it takes to write the album isn't something that too many bands possess today. An instant classic. Overall: +Every instrument shines, insane solos, thundering drumming, heavy and solid rhythm section, emotional vocals +Very dynamic, will be heavy as hell one second and chillingly calm the next without interrupting the flow +Complex, yet catchy, a very hard combination to pull off +Progresses from their last album while keeping true to their sound +no fillers -The last two songs could be better -Seems short -the bonus tracks aren't particularly good.