Machine Head are back! With their first album in four and a half years, ‘Unto The Locust’ has much to live up to after the frankly phenomenal previous effort ‘The Blackening’ which was named Metal Hammer’s ‘Album Of The Decade’, although I personally felt that there were better albums to be given the title it shows in how high esteem ‘The Blackening’ was held. Machine Head therefore were always going to have their work cut out to top or even match that level with the new offering!
Opening track ‘I Am Hell (Sonata in C#)’ is a song of 3 parts and kicks off with Rob Flynn’s vocals being harmonised over themselves a cappella style while repeating the term ‘Sangre Sani’ (Latin for ‘Blood Saint’ according to Rob Flynn). After such a pleasant start you knew it was only a matter of time before the crushing brutality would kick in and Machine Head are never one to let you down! The next part of the song is quite possibly the most brutal piece of music ever put forth by Machine Head before Part 3 kicks in with it’s lightning fast riffage which is reminiscent of ‘Clenching The Fist Of Dissent’ from their previous album. It is a great way to start the new album and it needs to be said it becomes immediately clear just how good the production is on the new album, the instruments are all blended together perfectly in unison and the vocals are at enough of the forefront without overpowering the music below. Next track ‘Be Still And Know’ is the shortest offering on the album clocking in at 5:43 and is the only track under the six minute mark. It starts with a melodic guitar line that reminds me slightly of Iron Maiden’s ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ before the drum fills then the second guitar comes in to harmonise, once again after the niceness of the intro the band unleash with Robs cry of ‘In This Struggle.. Are We Dead Or Alive’. The chorus however is strangely quite upbeat for a song this heavy but it works and the track has one final trick up its sleeve with a really nice solo to finish us off. ‘Locust’ is next which I’m sure most fans will have already heard due to it being the lead single from the album, ‘Locust’ takes a different path to the previous tracks as this is much more of a grove ridden song, it has taken a few listens for me to really get into this song and if I’m honest I still feel it’s a little all over the place in places (mainly the way it switches from verse to pre chorus as it just doesn’t seem to flow right for me) but it has some great moments of promise as well the verse riff is immense. Final track ‘Who We Are’ is a more uplifting affair even if slightly cheesy in its lyrical content, it starts with some kids singing to some clean strumming before Rob and the distorted guitars come in. After working its way through the verses and chorus’ the song includes another couple of really nice solo’s before the song builds up to its conclusion slowly winding down to some drumming and string ensemble.
Overall I would say that ‘Unto The Locust’ is a strong album and a good follow up to ‘The Blackening’ without ever quite reaching the heights of its predecessor. Any fan of Machine Head will no doubt already of heard it and loved it, for others that are fans of the genre it is definitely worth listening to as it is a great album and the production is phenomenal. My biggest criticism of the album however has to be the track intros as too many songs on the album seem to take at least a minute to get anywhere and in places this is quite unnecessary.
1.I Am Hell (Sonata in C#)
2. Be Still and Know
4. This Is the End
5. Darkness Within
6. Pearls Before the Swine
7. Who We Are
Recommended Tracks: –
‘I Am Hell (Sonata In C#)’, ‘Be Still and Know’, ‘Locust’, ‘Who We Are’