Robb Flynn is a true underdog. Despite founding one of the most successful and influential metal bands almost a quarter century ago, his band Machine Head is rarely acknowledged as one of the top-tier metal bands. Which is a shame, because they should be as revered as Metallica, Slayer, and Slipknot are. Their journey, which started with the classic Burn My Eyes, has stayed a remarkably tight course, despite veering off into nu-metal (no, that’s not a bad thing where I come from!) territory in the late 90’s/early 00’s. They have since tightened up their sound, and have consistently put out 10/10 material ever since Through The Ashes Of Empires.
Now, in 2014, the metal scene is as redundant as it is diverse. Most popular bands rely on extreme downtuning and/or gimmick posturing. Is there still room for an unapologetically “old school” metal band? You bet your ass there is. Which brings us to Machine Head’s latest album, Bloodstone And Diamonds (due for release November 7th on Nuclear Blast Records).
Machine Head’s signature sound consists of melodic leads and choruses, guitar harmonics (I remember the Machine Head drinking game: take a drink every time you hear a harmonic played! Best played with their debut album), a groove “in the pocket” feel, and lyrics that deal more with social injustice and personal insecurities than with typical metal “dungeons and dragons” lyrics.
The opener “Now We Die” has all these trademarks in spades. It is undeniably catchy, with layers of strings on the chorus to bolster the epic sound. Other tracks include the moody and morose “Sail Into The Dark”; “Night Of Long Knives”, which references the infamous Manson family murders; “In Comes The Flood” with its stomping rhythm section and powerful guitar riffing; and “Take Me Through The Fire”, with its Aesthetics Of Hate-esque beginning and groove.
Bloodstone And Diamonds, overall, is MH’s best album since their masterpiece The Blackening. This is yet another brilliant effort, and I strongly recommend you buy this one.