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Machine Head
Catharsis
Type: CD
Company: Nuclear Blast
Release: 2017
Genre: Heavy/Extreme
Reviewer: Eric Compton
Published: 1/5/2018
Hard-hitting, heavy-handed slabs of abrasive metal
Aside from early jeers, I honestly think this new Machine Head record will have a surplus of fans. Flynn already advised the masses to "lower your expectations for the heaviness, lower your expectations for the speed". After the dust settles, the Nu-metal finger pointing should subside, making way for 'Catharsis' to find its rightful place among the band's heftiest albums. It contradicts Flynn's promise of less heaviness with a massive wall of sound and weighty production values. Zack Ohren (Immolation, Deeds of Flesh) co-produced with Flynn and the duo's excessive experience provides the perfect stability for an album that's...unstable lyrically.

Right out of the gate, "Volatile" proclaims "fuck the world" with a backbone of double bass, heavily distorted guitars and Flynn's gravel throated command to put your head on the block. While moments of the album's Nu-ish 'Supercharger' come to mind ("Bulldozer"), the band's effectively washes the factory grit with Maiden-styled melodies at the minute mark. That same vibe ebbs and flows on "Beyond the Pale", a monumental cut that builds in intensity with shovel-headed groove while still injecting loads of melody over Flynn's clean, soulful singing. The album's early writing hinted at more rock-oriented sensibility and that overflows with what I consider album highlights--"California Bleeding" and the Lemmy ode "Razorblade Smile", the latter utterly filthy with lyrics like "eating p*ssy by the dumpster, beard stinkin' like snatch". It's that kind of writing that proves Flynn and the boys just throw the middle finger up to everyone and anything. It's angry and socially preachy when it wants to be, but has a bearing of imprudence that is mistaken for immaturity.

Early detractors have found fault with rap-rock influences, citing the failed experiment of the band's 'The Burning Red'. Certainly "Triple Beam" parks in that neighborhood, but Flynn has always had a bit of street scrub--it's part of the appeal. The song is rap, but arranged within meaty slabs of groove, swirling leads and a hardcore stance. Lyrically, it's more violent and daunting than any extremist act's "1-2-3 Kill" anthem. "Kaleidoscope" is the most symbolic track of the record, a modern approach that is similar to Bring Me the Horizon but firmly encased in the band's early and later characteristics. "Bastards" is the downgrade for me personally and just doesn't fit the album's motif. That song, as well as non-album track "Is There Anybody Out There", were written and released years ago. Unfortunately, the band chose "Bastards" to include on the album, excluding the far better song to a vinyl 7".

At 15 songs, or a destructive hour and 15 minutes, there's plenty of meat on the bone. If you can't find seven or nine songs here to like...then maybe hard-hitting, heavy-handed slabs of abrasive metal just isn't your forte. Like 'Bloodstone & Diamonds' and 'Unto the Locust', 'Catharsis' is another "safe" album despite its reckless sense of abandonment. It's a steadfast, safe effort in terms of longevity and preserving the band's legacy. This decade has shown that Machine Head still has a whole lot of creativity and drive in defiance of their nearly 30-years as a band. The group's discography is one of the strongest of any artist, of any genre. While 'Catharsis' will have its unbelievers, I think there is very little weakness being exhibited from this indomitable metal giant.
About this Writer:
Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: MACHINE HEAD
CD
TITLE BAND
DOR
REVIEWER DATE
CatharsisMachine Head
2017
Eric Compton1/5/2018
HellaliveMachine Head
2003
Eric Compton3/19/2003
The BlackeningMachine Head
2007
Eric Compton2/23/2007
Through The Ashes Of EmpiresMachine Head
2003
Eric Compton1/5/2004


ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: MACHINE HEAD

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ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: MACHINE HEAD
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