Machine Head have been enjoying more of a run of dominance than Luke Bryan running a gauntlet of tailgate parties. 2007’s “The Blackening” took the metal world by the throat and Chokeslammed them through a table, whilst 2011’s “Unto The Locust” demolished more ears the way that Epic Meal Time demolishes burgers (not that I’m comparing Machine Head to EMT). I guess what I’m trying to say is that, Machine Head can always be counted on to be original, to stay true, to be Machine Head.
“Bloodstone & Diamonds” is every bit as chokeslamming and burger demolishing as the previous two records, as well as being 12 tracks long (a tome by MH standards) as well as being hugely experimental and as fucking raw as a grilling from Gordon Ramsay.
Lead single “Now We Die” is gracefully punctuated by strings before the band come in and smash everyone’s violins with an absolutely pulvarising riff and Robb Flynn’s easily detectable snarl only adding to the subsequent ear pummeling. An equally catchy chorus and Dave McClain’s colossal drum sound set the tone for a sonically titanic album with a lot more grit to it than previous records. “Killers & Kings” (don’t know what it is with Machine Head and (&) the “&” symbol?) powers through just as brilliantly as its predecessor, featuring riffs that chug more than a white middle-class frat party whilst Phil Demmel starts to let rip with a shredding ability that should make any and all lettuces shiver with fear.
“Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones” is very reminiscent of “Now I Lay Thee Down” off of “The Blackening” except with a bassline throwing more punches than Jose Aldo on a hotstreak (courtesy of newcomer, Jared MacEachern). “Night of the Long Knives” follows suit, featuring an absolutely thrashtastic verse accompanied by a melodically punctuated chorus.
Lyrically, “Bloodstone and Diamonds” brings the thunder like mjolnir. Songs like “In Comes the Flood” (my personal favourite) perfectly sum-up the viscerility (is that a word? Well it is now!) that the band were going for, screaming out lines like “I wanna burn down Wall Street baby! And fan the flames of discontent like Hades!” adding to one of the most aggressive American social commentaries since Michael Moore discovered his own testicles. Once again the perfect balance between ambience and beautifully shred solos is struck by Demmel, and rounded off brilliantly by the classical Machine Head twin guitar harmonies.
Whilst Flynn and co. are now synonymous with brining absolute desolation with each album that they release, they’ve also been known to reign supreme when it comes to haunting and doom-tinted tracks. “Sail Into the Black” contains a deep throat-sung refrain (yes, I did just use “deep” and “throat” in the same sentence pahahahah) before marching straight into a riff so ambiently heavy that it sounds like the reaper himself had emerged from the shadows, whist “Damage Inside” sounds almost like the illegitimate love-child of Alice in Chains and Paradise Lost. “Game Over” and “Take Me Through the Fire” round the album off with a triumphant thrashy fanfare, sounding off the return of one of the genre’s most reliable bands, both behind the tape decks and on stage.
Honestly, very few bands release just TWO brilliant albums in succession, let alone pulling off a hat-trick and doing it a third time. Machine Head are such a band and “Bloodstone & Diamonds” has combined the best aspects of their past three record (“Through the Ashes of Empires” (2005), “The Blackening” (2007) and “Unto The Locust” (2011) whilst adding a darker and more thrash infused element to their sound. Flynn’s vocals especially sound particularly raw!
I’m glad to see Machine Head back in the ring, and cannot wait to see them when “Bloodstone & Diamonds” descends on London!
I’m giving “Bloodstone & Diamonds” a rating of:
“Bloodstone & Diamonds” – 9/10
“Bloodstone & Diamonds” is out NOW via Nuclear Blast