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Title - 'The Blackening' (Roadrunner)
Artist - Machine Head

Machine Head's past is nothing along the lines of consistent. Their debut "Burn my Eyes" is widely considered one of the most classic thrash albums of the 90's and among Machine Head die-hards, their best album that could never be touched, even by MH themselves.

Their follow up "...The More Things Change", while remaining true to their thrash roots was subpar on the songwriting. Then "The Burning Red" came out, causing a division among MH fans. Some fans dismissed the effort, labeling it Nu Metal and basically calling the band a sellout. Others, including myself, appreciated the band's new direction and realized that this wasn't MH trying to be like every other mainstream metal band.

Instead, they were showing everyone else how it should be done. The next effort "Supercharger" is widely considered to be the band's biggest flop. However, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. "Through the Ashes of Empires" exploded onto the scene and silenced all their more critical fans that said that they had went soft and didn't know how to write good songs anymore.

Now, we come to "The Blackening", which some are saying surpasses the almighty "Burn my Eyes", and others are still saying no way. I say, it's different times and they're a different band now. It's sort of unfair to compare the two. In any event, Machine Head have delivered a stellar, uncompromised, amazingly heavy and refreshingly musically tight effort. Although it's early in the year, I have a feeling it will come within the the top five metal releases of 2007.

From the opener "Clenching the Fists of Dissent" it's clear that they're not fooling around. They raised up the ante big time. The whole album is unrelenting and doesn't release it's grip from you until the rousing finale "A Farewell to Arms", a track which start off slow(er) but finishes with a section typical of the rest of the album. This album is flawless, in the sense that there are no skippable tracks. The rhythms are pounding. The riffs are heavy and well thought out. The lead work is amazing and more progressive than ever before.

It will be a long while before I'll feel the need to go back in MH's catalog and listen to another album. This one has everything a metal fan can ask for. Way to go, Machine Head!





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