Machine Head: Unto the Locust

After releasing the best metal record of this generation (in my opinion), Machine Head have finally released the follow up album to “The Blackening”, but is it better than “The Blackening?” After what seems like forever of consistent touring, Machine Head have finally released “Unto the Locust” and after my first listen, it doesn’t quite reach that mark, but it’s still an incredibly strong record, certainly not one to ignore. Machine head have solidified themselves as modern metal giants and aim to keep riding the wave they’ve made for themselves out of the cascades of brilliant and technical riffs and melodies that they’ve created.

It’s been over four years since we were blessed with “The Blackening” and now that the hype over that album has finally started to subside, we move on and follow the band in deeper and darker trenches as they dig up the newest edition to the Machine Head catalog. The big question remains however, how do you top an album that was so critically praised? How do you top what is arguably the greatest metal record not only of this generation, but the best metal record since “Master of Puppets?” It’s an enormous order to fill, one most would say is impossible from the get go, but in my opinion, Machine Head really rose to the occasion and delivered an amazing record. After a few listens, I still don’t think it’s better than “The Blackening”, but it’s very close and being very close is still extremely impressive. I honestly don’t think anyone expected it to be as good as “The Blackening”, but I’m sure everyone can unanimously give praise for this record.

This album is considerably shorter than “The Blackening”, with only seven songs as opposed to the nine songs on the last record. Also none of these songs go over eight and a half minutes, whereas “The Blackening” had the epic song, “Halo” clocking in at over ten minutes. But, as we all know, time is relative and  none of this matters just as long as the song itself is really good and the songs on here are. Most of you will have no doubt heard the single from this album called “Locust”. That song came out in the middle of summer if I’m correct. If any of you were fortunate to have seen Machine head live on the Mayhem Festival, you will have seen the band perform “Locust” to eager crowds. Anywho, other noteworthy songs on this album include the opener “I am Hell (Sonata in C#)” This song is actually split into three parts. It starts out with “Sangre Sani”, which means “Blood Saint”. The band is featured singing this chant repeatedly over and over in a choral fashion until the sludgy guitar riff for the next movement “I Am Hell” take over and stomps all over everything. Finally the song concludes the wonderfully complex and intricate riffs of “Ashes to the Sky” bringing closure to the movement as a whole. A great and well rounded start to this album.Following that we have, “Be Still and Now”, which I would say is this albums “Halo”. My personal favorite song off this album is the song before the last called “Pearls Before Swine”, which is just a relentlessly evil and pissed off sounding song, much like the rest of the album. There’s no rhyme of reason why I prefer this song over the rest, I just really like it. The album concludes with the anthemic declaration of “Who We Are”. Just by hearing the title, you can probably imagine what the song is about. It’s a great closing song for the album, and mixed with the fantastic opener and brilliant songs sandwiched in between, makes this record a phenomenal metal record, probably the best of 2011.

Machine head have now built themselves a three album curve not to be messed with. “Through the Ashes of Empires”, “The Blackening” and now “Unto the Locust”. You can’t fuck with that curve right there. Every one of those albums is a stonewall classic and i strongly believe that Machine head would be a great draw for metal festivals this summer. Unfortunately America has not seemed to have grasped onto the brilliance of this band like the UK. The band has even stated that the UK is their spiritual home because we here in America just seem to think that band is alright. See America can’t seem to hold onto a metal band longer than a few minutes unless if you’re a nerd and only listen to proggy bands. Hopefully people will start to catch onto the idea of Machine Head. they certainly have the material to prove themselves and if you went to Mayhem Fest (it may not have been like this for every show but the one i went to, camden, was like this) then you would have been part of the sea of people that completely filled the parking lot for Machine head’s set. I’ve never in all my days of concert-going (i’ve only been going to concerts for four years, but i’ve seen a lot) I have never seen so many people surrounding the side stage for a side stage band. Maybe its because the band are much better than second stage status….(wink wink nudge nudge). Mayhem already had the band twice now, so they probably wont be on the bill this summer, but the would be a great draw for any other summer bill this year so keep your eyes and ears peeled for the mighty metal machine that is Machine-Fucking-Head!!!

Luke Helker

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