Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Machine Head "Bloodstone & Diamonds" (2014)

Machine Head are an American four piece Groove Metal band from California who over the 20 years since their first album "Burn My Eyes" have become one of Metal's most popular and celebrated heavier bands. In 2007 the group released their magnum opus "The Blackening", an album that showcased their musical maturity, ability to write captivating songs and their mastery of heavy, grooving riffs that saw song after song shred through neck snapping head banger after banger. It set the bar high for this band, their 2011 effort "Onto The Locust" underwhelmed me at the time. Thanks to this blog I have learned to be more patient with music, to give it more spins before giving my thoughts and opinions, and in the case of this record I was underwhelmed at first, but stuck at it and after a few listens I started to really enjoy this one.

Production wise this album sounds loud, bold and engaging, a step up from "The Blackening" with time doing providing progression as expected. Its a fantastic modern production that captures the character of the band without over doing the squeaky clean sound some modern Metal records suffer from, ie Slipknot's ".5: The Gray Chapter". With a great sound laid down all Machine Head need to do is deliver those slamming heavy riffs in captivating songs as they so often do. On the first few listens the "money riffs" were there, with no failure to excite, but the songs and themes didn't initially do much for me, feeling a little dull and dry at times. After several listens the familiarity helped me understand and appreciate what Machine Head were up to. For a band who may of passed their creative peak there was no shortage of ideas, song after song progressing with plenty of new ideas and interesting song structures that felt organic and epic, however these ideas would be a little expansive as the album drew on.

This is an album of two halves, from "Now We Die" to "Eyes Of The Dead" Machine Head sound their usual selfs with the exception of "Sail Into The Black", a moody, brooding track that gentle progresses, roars, and then fades back in the darkness. The second half finds each song sounding distinctly different from Machine Heads usual arsenal of sounds, "Beneath The Silt" brings some low sludgy Crowbar like grooves to the fold with Flynn showing the gentler side of his voice with dreamy leads. "In Comes The Flood" is a blatant social political commentary about America and capitalism that delivers all attention to the lyrics. "Damage Inside" has Flynn bringing a folk like solo vocal leads to some reverb soaked ambiance that builds up and dissipates a climatic moment. "Game Over" focuses its attention on a thrashier sounding rhythm than usual and "Imaginal Cells" bring more anti-system commentaries through sampled vocals over a quiet instrumental. The album ends on "Take Me Through The Fire" and like the ones before, something is a little differed. These songs are all decent, its great to hear the band expand their sound, but the track arrangement makes it very noticeable, and maybe with a more mixed line up I would not of noticed. But either way it doesn't change the fact that this album is loaded with good songs, and that Machine Head still know what their doing, the inclusion of the symphonic strings on a couple of tracks worked well and Bloodstone & Diamonds is another solid part of their discography.

Favorite Songs: Ghosts Will Haunt By Bones, Beneath The Silt, Take Me Through The Fire
Rating: 6/10