Album Review: Machine Head – Catharsis

Since three tracks were released online, this highly anticipated release from Oakland metallers, Machine Head, received mixed feedback.

Opener Volatile certainly rushes out of the traps with a cry of ‘F**k The World’, a refreshing prime slice of old school thrash. Title track Catharsis is also excellent with the time changes and epic riffs that is expected from the band. Next up is Beyond The Pale which has that heavy, down-tuned sound with a catchy chorus that you can expect the audiences to sing back at gigs, along with some superb duelling guitars and harmony vocals. All excellent stuff……so far. California Bleeding follows and this is where things begin to get a little patchy. Whilst this is certainly heavy with plenty of colourful lyrics, it all starts to sound a little adolescent at times. Triple Beam is next up and tells the story of drug dealer’s life-styles with a rap style narrative which involves the graphic description of a gang knife fight.

The following tracks are a mixed bag of styles including hand clap intros, cries of ‘I don’t give a f**k’, acoustic, almost folk-metal and rapping. It starts to sound disjointed and lacking cohesion. Whilst the level of playing and production is certainly high and seldom falls below the expected level of a band in its twenty fourth year of recording, clocking in at 75 minutes it does tend to be a tough listen in one sitting.

In interviews, Robb Flynn hinted that it was more of a return to the style of 1999’s The Burning Red, but why would he? Since 2003’s Through The Ashes Of Empires they have grown and developed, becoming almost reborn and have gained so much respect from their fans and peers. This album is by far the weakest of their recent output. Whilst not terrible it could, and should have been so much better.

PHIL ASHDOWN… the world’s largest online retailer of rare and out of print vinyl, CDs and music memorabilia – since 1987.

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