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Machine Head - Bloodstone & Diamonds

Machine Head
Bloodstone & Diamonds
by Brown Dwarf at 10 November 2014, 3:07 PM

I’m a MACHINE HEAD fan, a massive MACHINE HEAD fan. In 1994 I was 17, and I remember vividly the first time I heard the opening drum beat of “Davidian”. I remember exactly where I was when I first heard it, and I remember how the pure power of that song, pretty much changed the direction of my life. “Davidian” unlocked something inside me, and from that moment 20 years ago, I knew, like the T-1000, I would always have metal pumping through my veins. To this day that opening riff still gives me goose bumps.

In 1994 American Heavy Metal was on the ropes, it had been fighting a hard, drawn out bout with American Alt. Rock. “Burn My Eyes” was a call to arms. That album allowed Heavy Metal to rise up, draw strength and once more with clench fists, start to fight back against the constant onslaught of grunge. MACHINE HEAD went through turbulent times during those early years, with constant lineup changes, albums of varying strengths, and issues with labels. But, Rob Flynn’s visions for MACHINE HEAD stayed true. He navigated the band through the many rocky patches and come hell or high water he demanded that MACHINE HEAD continued to work hard.

The rewards came in 2007 with the monstrous album “The Blackening”. MACHINE HEAD were back, and at the top of their game. Questions were asked by many about how any band, not just MACHINE HEAD, who released an album of such intensity, could ever follow it up. So, how did MACHINE HEAD Respond? They made “Unto the Locust” in 2011, an album that effortlessly picked up where “The Blackening” left off and destroyed everything that it came into contact with. It seemed MACHINE HEAD were unstoppable, and this brings us to the point of my historical MACHINE HEAD ramble. In my hands I hold “Bloodstone & Diamonds”, the 8th studio album from MACHINE HEAD.

 In the three years since “Unto the Locust”, MACHINE HEAD haven’t sailed the smoothest of seas. Adam Duce founding member and bass player is no longer part of the MACHINE HEAD machine, they have moved homes to Nuclear Blast records but most importantly, “Bloodstone & Diamonds” comes off the back of two of the most impressive and important Metal albums that have been released in the last 10 years. As a MACHINE HEAD fan this makes me nervous, really nervous. Surely, “Bloodstone & Diamonds” can’t be three from three. Can it? From the opening seconds, it’s clear that “Bloodstone and Diamonds” is different. The calming, smoothing sounds of a Wolfgang Amadeus type string quartet are almost instantly dominated by Robb Flynn’s voice. And with this “Now We Die”. We are inside a minute and it’s starting to happen again, how do MACHINE HEAD keep writing songs of this strength? The strings kick back in to compliment the chorus, adding an extra layer of substance.  “Now We Die” has all the usual MACHINE HEAD trimmings, the strong slow breakdown, the blistering guitars and of course the powerful thunder of Dave McClain’s drums. The first single from “Bloodstone and Diamonds” is “Killers & Kings” another MACHINE HEAD classic. “Killers & Kings” is the first time we get to hear the MACHINE HEAD signature harmonic squeal. “Killers & Kings” is remarkably shorter than we have become used to with previous offerings, clocking in at a respectable, four and half minutes, another sign that things might be a different with “Bloodstone & Diamonds”.

The down tuned, swirling riff from “Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones” really steps up the harmonic signature, but the one thing that is audibly visual here is the bass.  Jared MacEachern’s bass has a very strong presence and pulls a number of these songs together very well. “Night of Long Knives” is epic, a classic thrash song, with a massive chorus. I cannot wait to get into a pit with my pals and pay homage to some of these songs. “Night of Long Knives” also demonstrates the quality of Rob Flynn’s vocals which have really stepped up a gear on “Bloodstone and Diamonds”. By the time we hit songs like “Sail into the Black”, “Eyes of the Dead” and “Imaginal Cells” its clear MACHINE HEAD are starting to play with us. They know the throne is theirs and they are enjoying their view of the kingdom. “Beneath the Silt” is another stand out. This could almost be on a “Black Label Society” record, it’s low, it’s slow, and it’s damned mean, even the vocals offer something different. As we draw to the close of “Bloodstone & Diamonds”, “In Comes the Flood”, “Damage Inside” and “Game Over” continue to test what the MACHINE HEAD sound could be.

All of the songs on “Bloodstone & Diamonds” have the trade marks you would expect on any MACHINE HEAD album, but it’s the way they are delivered that is different, almost special. MACHINE HEAD are pushing boundaries and trying to expand their rule. MACHINE HEAD are one of the hardest working bands around; this has become very clear over the years. “Bloodstone & Diamonds” is yet another MACHINE HEAD masterpiece. The final song, “Take me Through The Fire” ends the album in style. It sums up the MACHINE HEAD legacy nicely, leaving a want for more. It shows why MACHINE HEAD should be crowned the new kings of Metal. But, there is something different with “Bloodstone & Diamonds”, you can’t help but feel within these 12 songs there’s a hidden intent, it feels like the “Bloodstone & Diamonds” journey doesn’t end here. It feels like MACHINE HEAD are not finished yet, like there’s more to come, and if this piece of work is anything to go by, god help us all, who knows what is coming! All should bow before the kings of Metal.

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
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
12. Take Me Through the Fire
Lineup:
Robb Flynn - Vocals, Guitar
Phil Demmel – Guitar
Jared MacEachern – Bass
Dave McClain – Drums
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records
     


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