Machine Head return to heavier roots on ‘Do Or Die’

A heavy, if shallow, return to Machine Head’s older sound on ‘Do Or Die.’

Produced by frontman Robb Flynn and Zack Ohren (Carnifex, All Shall Perish, Machine Head’s last album), ‘Do Or Die‘ is the classic, follow-up metal band move after doing something a little different: insincerely returning to a much more familiar, heavier sound on the following release to try to appease disgruntled fans who now may be moving on. Yet even in returning to a heavier, pissed-off nu-metal sound remiss of something between ‘Through The Ashes Of Empires‘ (2003) and their debut album ‘Burn My Eyes‘ (1994), with some flourishes of their masterpiece, ‘The Blackening‘ (2007), this latest turn doesn’t seem all that genuine. As all of the rapped-vocals, screaming, breakdowns, twin-guitar harmonies, and divebombs in the world could not save this new Machine Head song from sounding so goddamn shallow.

Do Or Die‘ really isn’t a subtle or nuanced song lyrically, and a man of Robb Flynn’s age at 52 maybe shouldn’t be seriously rhyming “scene” with “memes,” like he does in the second verse. Some may argue that Machine Head was never subtle in their writing and wording, and while that’s most likely true, the ‘Through The Ashes Of Empires‘ days leading up to ‘Unto The Locust‘ (2011) showed that whilst corny at times, instrumentally they were on-point and still had important things to share in their music. But here, we get Robb not taking shit lying down: rapping fast, childish-sounding lines about his and the band’s haters online. From taking pot-shots at reaction videos, memes, negative comments, to those who didn’t like 2018’s ‘Catharsis‘ and talked shit about the simultaneous departures of long-time guitarist Phil Demmel and drummer Dave McClain in 2018. (Decapitated guitarist Wacław Kiełtyka and Devilment drummer Matt Alston are now the new replacements.) Oh well, I guess he won’t care for this article then.

However, all of it’s honestly just a lot of empty, boomer posturing that reeks like a lame Five Finger Death Punch number, with self-aggrandizing lyrics mentioning how “We’re not Chimaira, nor Strapping Young Lad“; how every band is the same now (there’s some truth to that); and how there isn’t a band in the game that Machine Head hasn’t influenced. Oh dear. This is kinda what I assume a meltdown sounds like, and it’s all quite sad. I also cringed a little harder inside each time Robb would sing “it’s do or die motherfucker, die motherfucker” in the choruses. (Did anyone else have those parts, unfortunately, remind them of Dope?)

So it’s a big ol’ fat no from me regarding this new Machine Head track. Maybe you’ll feel differently about it, but I can’t imagine what the real die-hard Machine Fans out there are feeling about this one. No word on a new album just yet though.

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