One reason reviewers even write is to open people’s eyes to new album releases and hopefully give more of an incentive to check it out. It pleases me when I get to write about rare albums like this, an album that starts another chapter in a band that has as much history on the music scene as Machine Head does. From their debut Burn My Eyes to Supercharger, they brought forth an unrelenting thrash assault onto the same stomping grounds Metallica and Slayer are from and almost singlehandedly invented a brand new chapter in thrash metal. Through The Ashes Of Empires and The Blackening marked the re-invention of the band into a whole new metal behemoth. Unto The Locust is the beginning of the third inception of Machine Head.
The first thing I noticed was that this album has only seven tracks (ten if you count bonus tracks), which is unusually short for a Machine Head album. Based from my interview with Dave McClain [drummer] earlier this year, he stated that they have increasing difficulty writing songs under six minutes, and only one of the songs on the new album Unto The Locust is under that time.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of elements from their old releases. By listening to this without any indication, you can still tell this is the same exact band, but their sound covers a much broader spectrum than ever before. I’m even inclined to say that there is a more progressive element in the songwriting structure as well. Before you even say it, no, The Blackening is not progressive in any way. It’s straight-on heavy metal/thrash with really long songs. Song length alone doesn’t make a band progressive.
With the substantial force of the opening of “I Am Hell (Sonata In C#)” calling your undivided attention, it then goes into a full thrash onslaught with plenty of impressive guitar work that will make any guitar lover listen in awe. This is about as close as you will get to hearing their “first” inception influences (Burn My Eyes-era). If you’ve heard the so-called “advance mix” of the “The Locust,” then you pretty much know what to expect. Not really, as it sounds much heavier than the fancily titled demo track. There are a few parts that stand out over the demo; the sound spectrum placement of the drums is different and there are more guitar parts spread out in the song. Overall it’s a good fit to be the title track, as it properly sums up the entire album.
The standout track is “Darkness Within.” Usually I will say why this is the standout to me, but I will leave that Easter egg for you to discover. I will say that I love this song and it’s a very different take on Machine Head that I’ve never seen.
There have been a few albums released this year that really bummed me out, but I always know I can count on Machine Head to deliver a delightful and enthralling album that (yet again) leaves me wanting more. Although I knew it would be extremely difficult for them to ever top The Blackening, they still did an excellent job.