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Machine Head Unto the Locust

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Machine Head - Unto the Locust
1. I Am Hell (Sonata in C#)
2. Be Still And Know
3. Locust
4. This Is The End
5. Darkness Within
6. Pearls Before The Swine
7. Who We Are
2011 Roadrunner Records

OUR SCORE
9
Reviewed by: David Keevill   //   Published: 10/21/2011

Unto the Locust, first and foremost, is a Machine Head album. From the barrelling chug of every elephant-heavy riff to the searingly tight guitar harmonies and Robb Flynn's coarse snarl, this release stands testament to the enormity of the work that the band have done over the last nineteen years. What Machine Head have managed to do with Unto the Locust is go beyond the sound harnessed by The Blackening to the extent that their previous efforts now look like a statement of intent.

As the start to an album that roils and spits with intensity, "I am Hell (Sonata in C#)" is a fitting opener. The song rips through Machine Head in a familiar way; crushing opening riff, fast-paced discourse from Flynn, breakdown and finger-dissectingly-fast solo. However, a walk down memory lane this is not, as the track breathes new life into this well-known framework. The choral vocals that start the song are unexpected, as are the lyrics sung by children at the start of "Who We Are," and both instantly stand as proof of the diversity of the album. It would be hyperbole to laud Machine Head for walking unfamiliar climes, but this album does see the four-piece moving further into unknown territory.

"Darkness Within," for example, reminiscent of "Descend the Shades of Night," lyrically pitches the listener into the psyche of the band, more clearly than has been seen before on a Machine Head record. The frankness about their simultaneous gain and loss from their involvement with music is staggering, emphasizing how cyclically reliant they are upon their art to express personal devastation, 'We built Cathedrals to our pain.' Introspection has never been a hallmark of a Machine Head album, and nor is it now. However, it does speak a thousand words that this is the place in their musical careers to so explicitly wear their hearts on their sleeves.

The emotional backdrop to the Unto the Locust fuels the abject ferocity of its music. Standout track, "Locust," consumes you, spits you out again and then, with relish, finishes you off; Dave McClain's double bass-drum punches rapidly through the track, underlying the superbly angular verse riff, all the while Robb Flynn suffocates you with the vivid imagery of the locust motif, 'clouds above converge to choke us.' After the second chorus, Flynn and lead guitarist, Phil Demmel, give us the chance to see how well they've perfected that duelling guitar harmony, devastatingly complex and yet still so tight. What's more, the slow crush of the outro riff is so monstrous as to even shake the weighty sludgesters from Crowbar to their very foundations.

Bottom Line: The maelstrom that Machine Head whips up around themselves with this album is admirable. From start to end, it's impossible not to get caught up in the musical intensity and the completeness that this record evokes. Unto the Locust has no moments of carelessness, very little that is reminiscent of Supercharger and, thankfully, no inklings of nu-metal. It seems so condescending to say a band has reached maturity, but Machine Head have pioneered such an instantly brutal and recognizable format, that I find it difficult to think of a group who have so risen to the challenge in the last twenty years. This album is a brilliant and deserving summation of their craft, and likely the finest metal release of 2011.

Comments
StevenGlasl   posted 1/14/2012 6:29:47 PM
LET FREEDOM RING WITH A SHOTGUN BLAST!!!!!!!
Stooooopid   posted 12/12/2011 5:43:51 PM
Awesome album.
anonymous   posted 12/5/2011 9:48:48 AM
amazing