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Machine Head: The Blackening

Genre: Metal
Label: Roadrunner

Oakland, California's metal matadors Machine Head is a great example of when a record label puts their faith in a band's own creativity and willpower. The result is Machine Head's 6th studio album The Blackening, produced by the band's lead singer/guitarist Robb Flynn, engineered by Martin Birch, and mixed by Colin Richardson (Bullet For My Valentine. Funereal For A Friend). The album has several epic tracks with bars of acoustic guitars stacked with spiraling metallurgy-chromed effects, counter-melodies, and angular tweaks which make listener's feel like they are in the center of a seven way intersection. The average song length is about 7 minutes long with two numbers extending over the 10 minute mark. The lyrics express human rage with anti-war slogans and anthems for the defenseless. Machine Head's songs show the bleakness of humanity but offer rays of hope that no one has to give in to the grim conditions imposed on them. This mimes their own lives when in 2002 the band dissolved their relationship with their record label Roadrunner and found themselves left in the middle of the desert without options. Some times that desperation inspires a band's most epic pieces which were the case for Machine Head's The Blackening, and this time Roadrunner International wanted to be the ones to bring it to the public.

The album's opener "Clenching The First Of Dissent" clocks in just over 10 minutes. The track merges metal, acoustic, and melodic riffage balancing jarring metal toned tabs with melodic sequences and using the transitions to make the gradual modulations come off evenly. The song's preamble of acoustic guitar strokes and marching snare drums give the number warmth before the blast of puckering guitar chords and rhythmic thuds come in like a stampede. Flynn's vocals take on the shape of the riffs, singing with a tuneful resonance and resonating with a throaty growl that chews and gnaws at the bristling textural twists and sonic burns. The sections of rapid hammering snare and bass drums by Dave McClain and heavy bass pickups from Adam Duce make way for Flynn's and Phil Demmel's guitar spikes, squeezing holds, and ear piercing pick slides or careens. The stomping metal moshing on "Beautiful Mourning" has silos of brutal slamming riffs along stapling drum strikes. Flynn's vocals take on the mood of the movements becoming as formidable as the instrument parts. The opening line of "Aesthetics Of Hate" sets the stage as Flynn shouts out, "Spit in the eye of a dead man's face." The song releases the band's emotions about Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott's murder back in 2004 and their anger towards the media for foddering stereotypes placed on heavy metal music, their bands and their fans. Some of the band's deepest instrument meltdowns and most seething chord arrangements are in this number.

The song "Now I Lay Thee Down" emotes a tender sentiment in the fluid tempo mixing in mood changes with the time signatures that coordinate hardcore metal coils with the softer barrage of soaring chords. The vocals return to being impaling and scornful on "Slanderous" as the caustic drum mallets and savage bass and guitar thrashing move at hell raising speeds. It's like the ground beneath your feet is being uprooted with the violent rage of a tornado. "Wolves" also has vocals and riffs that rip, tear, and howl with a tubular resonance carving out reflections of Exodus, Merciful Fate, and Mastodon. Machine Head likes to tweak their instrument parts with angular chords that perforate and spiral to add more action and texture to the piece like the intricate guitar rings on "Halo" which escalate and intensify with efficiency and confidence. The vocals resonate strong like a patriarchal figure and sculpt that voice into the final number, also more than 10 minutes long, "A Farewell To Arms" as Flynn cries out, "War hawks and senators they sit tight so trite/ Never their songs will know what it's like to fight/ But soldiers are dead/ And children have bled/ And the silence is numb/ What have we become?"

When the band members made the claim that they never want to make their albums sound the same, they meant it. Though The Blackening and their previous five albums follow a heavy metal regiment, each one has different textures and instrument compounds. Their rashness, complexity, and blistering passages have different dynamics, extensions, and compressed aspects. Heavy metal to Machine Head is about developing different techniques and combining them into unique and often lengthy compositions that express humanity's treatment of one another. The Blackening has lots of epic material that mimes the sheer willpower that people can have. It was indelibly a good decision then that the band went with their own creativity instead of someone else's. Just imagine what they would have lost without their own will.

Added: May 3rd 2007
Reviewer: Susan Frances
Score:
Related Link: Visit Machine Head Online
Hits: 2170
Language: english

  

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