Record Reviews

Album review: Machine Head “Catharsis”

Just over three years since the acclaimed album “Bloodstones & Diamonds” was released, Bay Area giants Machine Head have returned with an awesome, emotional and heavy album called “Catharsis”, writes Caroline Misokane.

“Catharsis” is Machine Head’s ninth studio album since forming in 1991. “Volatile”, the first song on the new album, shows a band that never gets tired of making heavy riffs and putting their hearts on display through Robb Flynn’s lyrics and screams. The album is very versatile, but for the most part dominated by the heaviness they are known by. “Bastards” is a ballad composed of acoustic guitars and Flynn’s voice speaking words of protest based on a conversation he had with his sons after the Trump election in the US. “Hope Begets Hope” and “Screaming at the Sun” are two songs in the classic Machine Head style, alternating fast drumming by Dave McClain with the amazing bass lines of Jared MacEachern. The second ballad of the album, “Behind a Mask”, is another beautiful song about sadness, grief and depression, subjects present in many Machine Head songs. Once again, Flynn does a perfect job, bleeding his heart out as the song goes on. The four last songs are as heavy as they must be, reminding the listener why this band has become one of the most acclaimed metal bands of this era. The closing track, “Eulogy”, shows a combination of different vocals and a melancholic melody. The guitar duo of Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel did a great job on this album, not losing their essence, while at the same time trying new elements.

On their last tour, they performed two and a half hour shows of classic and new songs, with no opening acts, billed as “An Evening with Machine Head”. They are doing the same this time around. With a new quality album out and many old classics piled up over the years, it is almost impossible to pick a set list without missing one or two favourite songs.

Machine Head will be back on stage in Japan in July for five shows. Full details here:

Machine Head’s album “Catharsis” is out now via Ward Records in Japan and Nuclear Blast internationally.