Four years since their last effort Bloodstone & Diamonds the American Groove Metal outfit return with a lengthy seventy four minute record that has divided opinions across the board. I was somewhat unexcited about Catharsis for the aspects that Ive ended up enjoying it for. Machine Head peaked with The Blackening back in 2007, a riot of a record that's worthy of being mentioned alongside the best Metal records ever unleashed upon the world. Since then their output has felt like stagnation, more of the same sound and so I went into this record hoping they would do something new. Whats ironic is there attempts to broaden their horizons are an utter turn off and the predictable Machine Head is here in droves sounding pretty wild and fun!
Stomping, chugging grooves, bendy, bouncy riffs and the razor sharp gleam of stiff guitar leads wail away in their typical uniform. The opening three tracks throw together some cracking riffs held together with lyrics to sing along to. These numbers will fit great into the live show but the next stretch from California Bleeding to Bastards sees singer Robb Flynn attempt to break the mold firstly with his voice, embracing the rougher, grouchy and musky, liquor stained attitude. Plain language, the blunt vulgarity and graphic story telling weighs down the atmosphere with its downtrodden tone. Going into Bastards the instrumental tries to come along with him into uncomfortable territory, reaching beyond their grasp it falls flat.
The soreness of failed experimentation casts quite the shadow over this record as the reasonable portion is great if not atypical of the band who are sinking into a broad range of ideas they have covered before in the past. They do however get their experimentation right on Behind A Mask, echos of Spanish guitars and the gentle build up to soothing, soft vocals, soaring in the moment is wonderful. Given its length and lack of unification in theme, Catharsis is really just a big cluster of songs from a band saying "here you go, have fun". If I were to cut the time in half and fill it with my favorites It would make a killer record, however its bogged down by a lack of filter and purposeful direction they were able to maintain on previous albums.
Favorite Songs: Volatile, Catharsis, Screaming At The Sun, Behind A Mask