Machine Head – Bloodstone & Diamonds – Nuclear Blast – Release 07 – 11 – 2014
Whether you like the band or not, one cannot deny that Machine Head have always been on the forefront of popular metal. Being built upon a healthy dose of ‘80s thrash and heavy metal, coupled with a lot of groove, absorbing some nü-metal during their puberty stage and growing up into a fresh and modern sounding mix of neo-thrash and groove metal. The diversity has gained them fans, though at other times even pushed away fans. Luckily the last few albums show that fans have little to fear and the upcoming album “Bloodstone & Diamonds” only reinforces that.
Machine Head is:
Robb Flynn – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Dave McClain – Drums
Phil Demmel – Lead Guitar
Jared MacEachern – Bass, Vocals
Bloodstone & Diamonds
After a short violin intro “Now We Die” throws you right into the mayhem as Machine Head pump out of your speakers. A strong groove accompanied by addictive lead guitar line. The violins keep popping up, but rather than subduing they actually add a very good melo-dramatic touch to the song. Add in superb ‘80s inspired guitar solos and you’re good to go for this album, what an opener! Fans will be familiar with both the opener and the catchy follow-up “Killers & Kings” as both have already been released to the fans. Very good choices, as these are two of the stronger songs on the album.
“Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones” shows the more melodic side of the way, while retaining the heaviness. There’s actually quite a lot of ‘space’ left between the instruments in a lot of parts of this song, giving it that empty feeling. My personal fave is “Night of the Long Knives”, of which the title may mislead you, but it’s actually about the Manson murders. There’s just something about the power in the chorus, the way Flynn spews out the lyrics and the sublime instrumental part that just gets to me. Loving it!
“Sail Into the Black” is another one of the gems on this album. It really takes its sweet time in going, drawing out the melancholic intro halfway into the eight-minute song when the solitude gets replaced with anger as the rage slowly builds its way up into a bombastic crescendo. “Eyes of the Dead” picks up the pace, though I think it’s a bit too big on the constant breakdowns. The slower pace is continued with the groove-tastic “Beneath the Silt”, with heavy grooves alternating with softer melodic bits. The contrast between the two styles works perfectly, without really having an audible clunk in-between sections.
We get back to the bombastic side of Machine Head with “In Comes the Flood”. I love the long sweeping parts, yet I’m not too fond of the more nü-metal-like part of the song early on. It’s just one of the very few things I don’t like about this album, but it’s good to keep acknowledging works of the past.
One of the reasons that Machine Head fans have been so loyal is that the band really knows how to speak to their hurt inner being with the rare softer song. On this one it’s “Damage Inside”. If you didn’t know about Flynn’s voice before you’d be quite surprised to hear how he pulls it off. The contrast with “Game Over” works great as Flynn starts off the song with his softer voice, making for a perfect transition. It’s just a shame that it continues as a heavy MTV-punk sort of song. Luckily there are better parts in the song, but the damage is done.
Right on before the end there’s a bit of an intermezzo song with “Imaginal Cells”. An audio dissertation on mental evolution of mankind gets carried by a great instrumental track. While it does come off as a little bit pompous, really listening to the text combined with the music will likely give you a few chills. That’s not wholly due to the vocal content, but rather the way it is told and how it goes with the music.
“Take Me Through the Fire” is the final send-off from the album in typical Machine Head fashion. Made for great sing-alongs and a good mosh. Get ready to replay the album right after that.
Machine Head is still going strong over twenty years since their beginning. this album solidifies and strengthens their position in the metal world. Highly recommended!
- Now We Die
- Killers & Kings
- Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones
- Night of Long Knives
- Sail Into the Black
- Eyes of the Dead
- Beneath the Silt
- In Comes the Flood
- Damage Inside
- Game Over
- Imaginal Cells
- Take Me Through the Fire
Score: 4.5 out of 5
Text by Robert Popovic