Album Review: Machine Head - 'Unto the Locust'

11 October 2011 | 7:01 pm | Staff Writer

Thrash 'n' roll.

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Ok, can we just pretend that period between 1999 and 2001 didn't happen. Easy enough!? Let's put those pseudo rap vocals used over a nu-metal groove blueprint that seemed so prevalent well and truly behind us. Thankfully, Machine Head now have.

The Bay Area influence is back. And thank God too. This is thrash. This is punishing. And this is deliberate. 'Unto the Locust' is indicative of a band back in a defining and comfortable element. Flynn and Co. seem guided and focused once more and it's the listener that is the beneficiary. Where 'The Blackening' steered the ship back in the right direction, studio album number seven continues on in its own crushing way. While we look at old-timers and music stalwarts such as Metallica and Megadeth to continually deliver the newest slabs of thrash it seems Machine Head may have beaten them to the line.

Intense, loud and evocative, are qualities that signpost this release. Although in terms of being careful with wording, it must be stressed that 'Unto the Locust' isn't this generations 'Black' album and/or 2011's answer to 'Slaughter of the Soul'. It is good but not that good. Instead, it should be appreciated and received for its honesty and precision.

Beginning with the eight minute 'I Am Hell (Sonata in C#)', the track shifts from an almost ambient, classical introduction to an ominous distorted riff before finally launching into a blast beat musical feast, with solos and circle-pit tempos throughout. 'Locust' explores the melodic death metal elements and groovy styles that made up the band's repertoire in the past. 'Darkness Within' can do with a miss while 'Pearls Before the Swine' reverts back to the more thrashier elements.

What 'Unto the Locust' achieves is a convenient reminder of what made Machine Head potent and fearsome in the first place. The studio album makes you want to re-visit past achievements like 'Davidian' and additionally gives you reason to persevere with a band seemingly getting better with age.

Soundwavers might want to stock up on their fluids before Machine Head's set because if 'Unto the Locust' is anything to go by it's not going to end pretty. Machine Head show that the return to form that was 'The Blackening' was by no means a fluke. There's still some small areas of improvement but we can look the other way on those trivial things.

1. I Am Hell (Sonata In C#): 
I: Sangre Sani (Blood Saint) | II: I Am Hell | III: Ashes to the Sky
2. Be Still And Know
3. Locust
4. This Is The End
5. The Darkness Within
6. Pearls Before The Swine
7. Who We Are

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