Machine Head

Through The Ashes Of Empires (Roadrunner UK 2003)

Album review

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Machine Head have had a rough time of it lately. They started off ok, first album was incredible...then drummer problems, 2nd album was badass...then guitarist issues..then things kinda started going to hell if you ask many oldschool fans. Alot of people wrote Machine Head off over the course of the last 2 albums, and the new look didn't help much either. Looking back The Burning Red and Supercharger weren't bad at all, but I guess I was still longing for those Agnostic Front influenced riffs that caved my head in on the first album instead of catchy nu-metal sounding hooks. And it seemed like the band themselves were still trying to figure out what direction to go in. Well, Machine Head still seem like they are feeling out what direction to head in, but thankfully they seem aimed back towards their hardcore and oldschool metal roots on this new offering.
The entire Machine Head spectrum is represented here, little bits from the last 4 albums, the album is completely littered with some of the sickest, heaviest, most hardcore riffs Flynn and Co have ever committed to tape. And hats off to Dave McClain on this one, he's one sick little monkey on the kit. There are even old school Maiden-style metal breaks on here, (Shadows Fall take note). Where on earth did those come from? 80's thrash metal solos abound. Musically this is a really sick Machine Head album, but there's one thing that really irks me. "Elegy" is a great example, I was losing my shit when this track first came on, it starts off all heavy and groovy, Robb's vocals are killer, the verse and chorus are great, then at 2:20 into the track there's this little nice, inoffensive bridge part that just doesn't have any business whatsoever being in this previously badass song. It then builds into a predictable heavier part, but by then I'm holding my head in my hands and wailing "whhhhy? oh god, why did they go and do that?" This distrubing trend of really killer Machine Head tunes (with Robb doing his gravel-growling) being interupted by sensitive guy vocals and clean guitars goes on throughout the entire album. This is where Machine Head seem split between their roots and what will appeal to the masses. This band needs to decide if they want to go down as one of the best metal bands ever to launch out of the bay area with their own style, or just another band chasing what's hot on the radio and Headbanger's Ball.
That said, it's still the heaviest album I've heard from Machine Head since 1997's "The More Things Change", just shows what this band can do if there's no record label tampering going on. Machine Head are back and definately deserve a listen.

Album Rating:

Reviewed by: Wolfie