I love Machine Head; they’re innovators of groove metal… but this one is as dull as dishwater. There are points that almost hurt reviewing this album, because it gets close to being outstanding – then the vocals come in and ruin it. On the surface, this is a good album. Like everything since “The Blackening”, it’s okay: good songs, great solos, neat ideas and one stand-out song. Although, for a band that is so respected and important in the development of groove metal this just isn’t good enough.
I say that as a fan. I don’t know what it is about 2014 but most records that I review from bands I like just suck or fail to live up to their past glories. Stop reading this and listen to “The Blackening” or “Through the Ashes of Empires” and come back to me.
Again, there is no reason why this album shouldn’t be great. Colin Richardson makes this sound glorious and it has all his hallmarks that makes him one of the best producers in metal today.
All I can think of is that there is no groove; new bassist Jared MacEachern, who replaced former bassist Adam Duce in 2013, is not very good. He is inaudible and does nothing with the material. We can all ride root notes, buddy. Play your bass and turn up in the mix. Duce could play circles around you.
The opening track “Now We Die” contains everything you need to know about this album. It tries way too hard but misses the point. It sounds like a track that was discarded from better album sessions. That is what this album is B-Sides from “Through the Ashes of Empires” in a lot of ways. It’s the only way I can describe it.
“Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones” has an awesome intro that is ruined and sounds so freaking heavy that I just love it. But once Flynn starts doing his annoying low singing/talking. Dude, cut that junk out. The chorus grows on you and makes the song mediocre.
“Game Over” is a thrash throwback, again ruined by the vocals, but it’s a new sounds for the band and I like that they tried something new.
“Night of Long Knives” has great moments but it is lost in the shuffle of the milieu of this album. The fact is that every song, bar two, sound exactly the same as the last. It’s very upsetting.
Flynn’s vocals are the pits. The absolute worst thing about this album, they’re not as bad as an Avenged Sevenfold album, but still. Why did he makes this strange vocal choice? “Sail Into The Black” makes my blood boil.
This album is saved, I do mean saved, but the instrumental “Imaginal Cells”. This track is excellent and one of my favourite songs of the year. Again, there is always one standout track from a Machine Head album and this is it.
This instrumental features audio samples from the audiobook “Spontaneous Evolution” by Dr. Bruce Lipton and Steve Bhaerman. I love using samples in my music and this is what “perfect metal” sounds like to me. It’s melodic with a pumping beat and with a strong, beautiful message. Kudos, sirs. This is the reason to buy this album!
Overall, the album is okay. It is one of the worst albums of their careers however you have to hear “Imaginal Cells” so pick that up.
“Bloodstone & Diamonds” was released by Nuclear Blast on 7 November 2014.
1. Now We Die
2. Killers & Kings
3. Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones
4. Night of Long Knives
5. Sail into the Black
6. Eyes of the Dead
7. Beneath the Silt
8. In Comes the Flood
9. Damage Inside
10. Game Over
11. Imaginal Cells (Instrumental)
12. Take Me Through the Fire
Machine Head are:
Robb Flynn – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Phil Demmel – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Jared MacEachern – Bass, Backing Vocals
Dave McClain – Drums