Sound — 9
I first saw Machine Head open for Metallica in 2009, and within a week I had every album and was already eager for the next. I then heard the single "Locust" and saw the band again this august at Rockstars Mayhem Festival. It would be no easy feat topping the Thrashterpiece that was "The Blackening" but this Is a noble attempt. They are still my two favorite MH albums but I have to see how this one grows on me before I decide. Overall the songs are top notch, Weather its the thunderous riffs, finger blistering solo's, melodic vocals. I'll be the first to admit that I didn't like the intro to "I Am Hell", while the rest is solid I just didn't enjoy it. The tracks that I really dug where "Locust", "Be Still An Know", "Darkness Within" and "This Is The End". "Who We Are" had its moments and "Pearls Before The Swine". The two bonus tracks covers of "Witch Hunt" and "The Sentinel" are good but I could have thought of better songs for them to cover. 01. "I Am Hell (Sonata In #c)" - the album opens with the heaviest song In my opinion. Despite the intro that I must say I didn't like, the rest picks up, This is the kind of song that would create a mosh pit with out a second of doubt among the fans. The classical interlude doesn't take away from the heaviness of the song and then the outro picks up again while not as heavy it does the job as it progresses into a fade out. 02. "Be Still And Know" - I have to agree with one of the previous reviews in saying that this guitar intro is very reminiscent of Iron Maiden, the drums roll in and then a monstrous riff enters with Robb's vocals that launch this track off into a blazing epic only to be improved upon by its chorus, the solo remind me of something off of "Master Of Puppets", easily one of my favorites off the album and hopefully a new addition to the live setlist. 03. "Locust" - the build up was easily one of my musical highlights on 2011, both hearing it the first time on iTunes and then live, the guitar stars off in a ominous tone followed by they build up of the drums, until finally the drums explode and the main riff starts. Robb enters with the vocals and I am reminded of why Machine Head rapidly climbed my top ten bands until it became tied for #1 (w/ Metallica) The chorus is solid with the guitar in the background It is nothing short of masterful. It isnt the fastest song but it is still amazing. The "Halo" of this album. 04. "This Is The End" - the classical build up with a combination of Acustic and Electric guitar shows how the band as musicians have matured since the last album, the drums roar And we still get a classical feel out of the fast paced shredding that ensues until Robb screams "THIS ENDS NOW!". We get a thrashy riff, I hear similarities to "Wolves" and "Slanderous" from "The Blackening". The rest of the song offers a solid sound and another Hammettesque solo. 05. "Darkness Within" - another slow intro, with lyrics rivaling Descend the shades of night (my favorite slower Machine Head song) The song shows how the power of music can help you in time of need when you have lost your faith (a problem I myself have faced, thought I am on good terms with both Music and faith now). One of the best Machine Head Chorus's of all time and hands down my favorite song on the album. 06. "Pearls Before The Swine" - is sort of the odd song here, its good but it feels out of place, compared to the other songs. I don't really know why but it didn't do it for me the way the others did. 07. "Who We Are" - When I heard kids would be singing on this track I expected ominous Brick in the wall children, this is more like 1st grade chorus where the kids are sloppy and off key but the parents still tell them they did good because they have to. After that it really picks up, Robb's version of the lyrics are needless to say better, they song picks up in an almost boastful manner even though the lyrics don't explain nice things to brag about. The song is what different but the similar to typical machine head. The chorus is good but the build ups are what really stand out. A different solo, still good but then it picks up into a thrashy metallic assault. The soft outro with violin's I'm assuming, is a nice touch after soo much face melting. Easily a song to get the crowd moving and jumping while singing the chorus along. 08. "The Sentinel" (Bonus) - originally by the kings themselves Judas Priest, the song starts off in typical Priest fashion with a machine head feel. I feel it is well sung and performed, the chorus is something to brag about, It's not easy to cover most Priest songs (except the generic "Hits"). If I handnt known it was a cover I may have thought it was a Machine Head original 9/10 09. "Witch Hunt" (Bonus) - a Rush song originally, an odd choice to be honest, it has its moments but Rush is a hard band to cover, much like priest but different at the same time. Not bad but not my favorite cover 7/10
Lyrics — 9
I've always loved Machine Head lyrics, (even on "Supercharger", which despite some hate I loved). "I Am Hell" had some moments, for me the chorus where I thought the lyrics where sick and I could find myself singing along in the car until I'm at a stoplight and the old Asian woman is staring at me. "Be Still And Know" was easily one of my favorites in the terms of lyrics, inspired by the biblical passage "Be Still And Know That I Am God" I still get chills when I hear the chorus "And the sun will rise, Dawn will break through the blackest night Distant in it's glow, This shall pass be still and know". The rest of the song is filled with great lyrics as well. "Locust" had been getting some heat for "Cliche" lyrics, it would be true if it where about the apocalypse and the hordes of Locusts, but it is a metaphor. The locusts being those people who pretend to care or be your friend so they can drain you of all your worth until there is nothing left and move on to the next one... Like a locust moving from crop to crop. "This Is Then End" isn't a lyrical masterpiece but it will have you singing without realizing it at time, It's one of those songs where its energy compliments the lyrics. "Darkness Within" is the pinnacle of lyrical writing for Machine Head in my opinion, the intro is sung with such care, you can almost feel the pain in Robb voice. A triumph of music, the chorus reminds us the power music can have over us. Admit it, there is that one song that can change your mood immediately, maybe even saved your life (Fade to black) overall this is my favorite lyrics off the album. "Pearls Before The Swine" nothing really special here, not as catchy as the other tunes but decent. "Who We Are" lyrically this is good, not great but it does have that anthem, everyone get up and sing feel to it.
Overall Impression — 9
3 solid albums in a row. I feel safe knowing these guys will be around when older band retire, hopefully these guys can fill a stadium and headline instead of co headlining or supporting other bands. The songs are amazing and well written, I can't compare it to "The Blackening" because I'd just keep contradicting myself The Blackening is placed just bellow "Master Of Puppets" on my list of the greatest Thrash Metal albums). The covers are good but I'd replace "Witch Hunt" with a cover of something like "She-Wolf" by Megadeth or off of "Holy Diver" by Dio Overall the album is a solid Thrashterpiece, It's too bad they couldn't make the Big 4 into the Big 6 to accommodate Machine Head and Testament. I'm already eager to hear how there going to follow up this.