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Okay this was my first review, i've learnt alot so please re read and if appropriate, re-rate.
To say that Machine Head are a significant band is an understatement. As is the fact that they speak their own mind. For a metal band, this isn’t unusual. But this band, the f**k off comes in a different package, not the whiny, i-was-bullied-at-school, Korn-esque fashion but in a real, ball busting, straight from the heart feeling. The sort that make YOU want to make a difference. Like a true rock band, they had a lean spell. After the awe inspiring first two albums, they lost a guitarist, Logan Mader. At this point, many people thought they would dust themselves off and bounce back but what no one knew that they were about to release they're 'touching' and 'emotional' album. In hindsight, it was a good thing as they may have burnt themselves out. Then there was the album which was under pressure from the record company. They jumped on a pseudo bandwagon and decided to rap with heavy guitars in the background, for me it worked and after all, they grew up in oakland listening to Ice-T, arguably they are the most deserving of this genre mixing. However, the music press also jumped on the bandwagon and more or less ended their careers.
Then there was 'Through the Ashes of Empires'. Released at the end of 2003, it restated themselves as the kings of hard driving, pounding metal. Due to the recent departure of Pantera, there certainly was room for it. A new guitarist has given Machine head a much-needed kick up the arse. Phil drummel was Rob Flynn's former band mate a long time ago in Vio-lence. His need for heaviness has re-kindled something inside of Flynn and co which is astounding.
Each track sends tears to the eyes, hands together and praying for more Here's the track listing
Even after months of listening and a live gig, I find myself hard pressed to find a stronger or more apt song for this moment in time. As Flynn bellows out
HERE! ME! NOW!
I find it hard not to go, if you excuse my French, apeshit. It bursts out a devilish riff which kicks the album off nicely and is a good 7 minutes of pure unadulterated metal. Bring it on.
2) Bite the bullet
After the first 30 seconds I feared the worse due to the overly distorted mangle of noise but it comes back down to a grass roots old skool metal. Up and down, up and then......down in volume really packs a punch. As mr Flynn rightly says,
You want more? You'll get it!
3) Left unfinished
At such an early point in the album comes my favourite from the lot and just too sweeten the taste it was an absolute blinder live. Flynn talks about the pain of his 'once were' parents giving him up and their relative interest in him now he is famous. Song starts with a disconcerting fairy box kind of ditty. The main riff took me straight back to '97 and the more things change. Quality.
Again I feared the worse as a pretty mundane riff starts off this monster of a song. This is where the album starts to stabilise and a clear pattern emerges as to the order of chaos. Solid, good song.
5) In the presence of my enemies
Partially hailed as an almost classic by critics. Thudding drums and feedback open this scorcher. The main riff comes in shortly and kicks you in the nuts squarely. This song is an active rebellion against ruined childhoods and caring for his own. Clenched fists and jaws a plenty.
6) Days turn blue to grey
Possibly this riff is the weak link on the album. Simplicity can give way to naivety. It sounds a bit like something a blind and deaf dog would come up with if it stumbled over a guitar. However the quality of this pseudo ballad makes it all worth it in the end.
Double bass pedals must have been going cheap the day this was recorded because there is more on this track than in the entire slayer back catalogue. You remember the days when bands actually liked having solo's you could get your teeth into...well hold and to your air guitar cos this baby is worth listening to. Disjointed lyrics and riff make this an interesting venture which shows accomplished musicianship. Nice break halfway through and cool solo.
8) All falls down
I really panicked here. Strange little effects pedal sounds and Flynn casually banging out hickish mumblings, but low and behold, it turned out to be as mean and aggressive as its predecessors. Another solid song.
9) Wipe away the tears.
To be honest, much the same as the last one. But hey, why give up on a good thing.
10) Descend the shades of night.
This is such a quality track no description will do it justice, just like when you try to describe nothing else matters by metallica or this love by pantera. It does its own critique. Just grab a listen in hmv, I can't put it in words. It’s a ballad but its not. Its heavy but it isn't. All I can say is
Scream with me Bleed with me Seethe with me Sing with me
When you hear those words you will realise why you are part of this whole affair. That feeling deep down. Machine head have got it, and it appears.... in abundance.
THE SHADES OF NIGHT ASCEND. Guitars drone the c.d to the end. Along with a classical guitar in the background. The perfect blend. The perfect album.
I bought this, as I do all my c.d's, at www.play.com for 8.99. Cheap as chips.
You will be playing this for ages. Buy it. Buy it now
If you buy this, it means you still want to believe that metal isn't dead. Go for it because Machine Head are trying to believe the very same thing.
This band is a deffo one to follow. a great live act and some great albums. 'timeless metal music'.
great review. dont agree with your disadvantage thoough but that doesnt go againt the review. nice one!
Kezzalea 26.02.2004 23:22
Hey Great OP, I not heard many Machine Head tracks but hoping to see them at the download festival in June, sounds like a album to be had.. even for an young old skool metal lover :)
monsieur.Joda 25.02.2004 12:00
This album is just great. After Supercharger, I thought Machine Head were crap in the end. But "ashes of empires" prove me wrong. They are back. They are stronger heavier and better. Hopefully they are back for good.