“The Blackening” by Machine Head

Artist: Machine Head
Title: “The Blackening”
Label: Roadrunner Records
Release Date: 3/26/2007
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

I remembered the first time that I heard Machinehead I had felt that they were a little too brutal for my tastes, but at the time I had been experiencing a slight Metal lameness. It’s on this frame of mind that I am choosing to blame my absolute lack of experience in the overall quality of the group. When “The Blackening” arrived and I spun it once around the changer I found myself almost finding something new and exciting once again. For a band that had been around for some time, there was a good chance that others would find this a new feeling as well based on some of what was happening on the new release. From first track to last, the new CD by these guys is an absolute cruncher of Metal and for the first time we find the band delving into some new territory by expanding the brutality with lengthy tracks. Let’s use the opening number for example with “Clenching The Fists Of Dissent” they clock in at almost nine minutes and while that is dangerously close to that of any top notch Progressive Band, they have not given us any long-winded experimental musical forays. Don’t get me wrong, in Prog its great but Metal it’s a risk. It’s thunderous drumming, on top of thrashing riffs and some seriously angry vocals all around here.

Machinehead also shows a lot of maturity that presents elements of their past with the Thrashing side but a lot of the contemporary Metal feels of today are presented as well and give us tracks like “Slanderous” and “Wolves”. These are two of my favorite tracks even though there are only eight. Guitarist/singer Robb Flynn is in top form and blending the aggressive side along with some nice clean vocals. I really liked the idea of their extending tracks for this one as its too long been associated with the band only being Progressive or the music being boring after a couple of minutes. If anything, the longer tracks by Machinehead serve best to keep your blood at the boiling point for a little longer than they used to. Phil Demmel’s lead guitars are everywhere and he showcases some nice technical chops on many of the lead breaks while the rhythm section of Duce and McClain test the limits of their individual roles with multiple groove changes whenever the chance is possible. Yes, the band is in synch with one another and it shows with every lick on this addictive CD.

The album closes with “A Farwell To Arms” and its on this track that we see just how much the band has grown since their inception with a multiple amount of different genre samplings to experience. With “The Blackening” I am sure that Machinehead will not only impress their long time fans, but also win over legions of new ones. The “new” listener in me was pleased to find just how good this was and how much potential the band actually has and what this potential offers Metal as a genre on the whole. Tear it up guys.

Track Listing:
1. Clenching The Fists Of Dissent
2. Beautiful Mourning
3. Aesthetics Of Hate
4. Now I Lay Thee Down
5. Slanderous
6. Halo
7. Wolves
8. A Farewell To Arms

Official Website: www.machinehead1.com

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