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The Blackening

Machine Head

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Album Review

Machine Head's The Blackening is an over-the-top rage and pummelfest with all the qualities that earned the group its enormous fan base by touring and recording. The record starts out unlikely enough, and gladly enough, with a left-of-center call to arms to the youth of this nation to not accept blindly the words (and threats) of "patriotic brutes." It calls for rage with triple-timed slamming beats and blistering lead guitar breaks, as the piece alternates between death metal, industrial metal, thrash and prog. It blends seamlessly. At ten-and-half minutes for an opening cut, one can tell this is no original heavy metal record. "Beautiful Mourning" is anything but gothic heavy metal; it begins with a taut, explosive riff matched by the drum kit, and then Robb Flynn is off and running, celebrating being "taken under" by her, and the seductive power of both women and death. The thrash element here rivals Slayer at their very best, and breaks new ground within the realm of composition for aggressive music. The intense dual arpeggios between both guitarists — Flynn and Phil Demmel on "Aesthetics of Hate" (as just one example) are among the tightest ever. The drama produced by Dave McClain's blastbeats and the steady guidance of Adam Duce's basslines comprise a deeply intuitive rhythm section for the six-stringers to fly from. They don't so much fly as fight, though. Other standouts include "Halo," and "Now I Lay Thee Down." Recommended.

Biography

Formed: 1992 in Oakland, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Influential West Coast heavy metal quartet Machine Head formed in 1992 around the talents of ex-Vio-Lence guitar players Robert Flynn and Phil Demmel, bass player Adam Duce, and drummer Chris Kontos. Their D.I.Y. work ethic, aggressive playing, and relentless self-promotion eventually landed them a deal with Roadrunner Records, a relationship that would extend all the way through 2005. Their blistering debut, 1992's Burn My Eyes, blended the powerful, modern attack of Pantera and Alice in Chains...
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The Blackening, Machine Head
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