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I used to love Machine Head. I worshipped at the altar of Robb Flynn in my late teens and in retrospect I can see that MH were a gateway band for me. I'd already obsessed over Slayer and Pantera and needed more of this heavy, extreme stuff. Machine Head weren't heavier or more extreme, but were heavily influenced by both those bands while still having a style of their own and on this album one massive weapon-amazing songs.
Machine Head never topped this debut. I call it Guns N Roses syndrome-an amazing debut where the band expends all or most of its songwriting ability and spends the rest of their career trying to live up to the hype...and fails. People say 'The Blackening' tops this, Metal Hammer even gave it album of the decade. What a load of bollocks! 'The Blackening', like most of MH's material, is a genre chasing piece of shit that falls flat. Even 'Burn My Eyes' was riding the groove-thrash wave that Pantera took mainstream, but at least this album is packed with quality song after quality song.
Any metal fan who hasn't heard 'Davidian' obviously isn't doing it right. An iconic song, a great opener and that immortal battle cry of 'Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast' make this an instant classic. 'Old' is another song that should be familiar to fans of the genre, another classic song and mainstay of the live set. I could go on but the next 7 songs are all utterly brilliant slices of groove/thrash metal, fueled by a passionate frontman. Flynn ruled back in 94, a powerful barking of angry lyrics without any of the pathetic metalcore clean vocals of modern MH. Behind Flynn, a very capable band delivering solid performances on guitars, bass and drums. Modern Machine Head goes for fancy guitar solos that although well executed, sit poorly in their sterile songs. On this album the solos are a better fit and the trade offs between Flynn and Mader are excellent.
The only fault I have with this album is at the very end. 'Real Eyes, Realize, Real Lies' is ultimately pointless but maybe would've worked as an outro. As it is, the album ends with 'Block' a poorly written song with 'Fuck it All' shouted approximately every 6 seconds and crappy verses. A shame really because the opening 9 songs are absolute beasts, from 'Davidian' to the slow, crushing 'Death Church', the almost-ballad 'A Nation on Fire' and the blistering 'Blood For Blood'. Even though I don't listen to this album very often these days, I'd probably rate it 95 if it wasn't for the last 2 tracks.
All in all, this album amazed me when i was 18 and it's still a monster of an album now. Great riffs and solos, powerful drumming, top quality songs and lyrics written and delivered with passion. If only the band had continued down this road.
Recommended: Davidian, A Thousand Lies, Death Church, A Nation on Fire, I'm Your God Now
Machine Head's debut "Burn my Eyes" has always seemed to catch my attention out of the bands discography. It's definitely not their best record but as most know each Machine Head album sounds different and the best way to describe this is a groove fest and that sounds pretty great to me.
The songs are all memorable and worth listening to. You won't find yourself dozing off and getting bored anywhere throughout the record. Almost each track is structured differently, features tempo changes and has great music overall. "Block" is the only track that I consider meh, pretty poor way to finish an album. The production is something that's always made me love this album even more, it just has that dirty early 90's sound and it really suits this album.
The riffs here are monstrous, as soon as the opening track "Davidian" riff starts with it's crushing, thick guitar tone you know you've came across something great. As everything on this record, the guitar is full of relentless groove. Considering Robb came from Vio-lence who are well known for writing insanely fast thrash songs, it's odd that very little thrash is evident aside from a few select parts. Though most of "Blood for Blood" has some wicked thrash riffs and one of the best here, there's only 3 other tracks that have some thrash licks. The lead work is nothing to really go on about, this album focuses more on intense riffing than solos, no big deal. There's some really nice clean guitar work here though that's beautiful, the intro of "A Nation on Fire" is an amazing example. No complaints about the guitar work, very well executed.
If you're like me and got into Machine Head with albums later into their discography, the vocals will catch you off guard. This isn't a bad thing, Robb sounds more rough and more "I dont give a fuck". It's quite apparent that this was his first attempt at doing vocals aside from doing thrash shouts. Nothing really to brag about aside from some of the clean singing in "A Nation on Fire" and "Im Your God Now", the vocals are good and that's about it. The bass tone here is better than any Machine Head record, sound so chunky and slick, as soon you hear the bass line at the beginning of "Old" you instantly drool. The bass work itself is the best Adam ever did, this and "The More Things Change.." are the only albums he puts any effort in. The drum work is wicked as well, I can't say it's some of Machine Head's best because there's no denying things got more technical with Dave, but nonetheless there's still some skilled drumming here. Personally, what really makes this album is the riffs, the rhythm of the songs and the lyrics. The lyrical themes range from anger, depression, anti-government and anti- religion. I really love the lyrics here, over top of the crushing guitar it just sounds so "fuck the world". I'll give you a little taste of what you'll find here:
"A hatred burns inside me, emotion out of hand
but I've the will to focus this, survive, contrive, command
from pain come a courage. the strength from injustice
The rage to overcome it all, an open mind with a closed fist"
The lyrics on this album will help anyone who's pissed off, and some of the tracks including the one I just put the lyrics to (The Rage to Overcome) can be helpful during depression. There's not much else to say about this record, overall it's the most important album in the bands history obviously, it's their debut. It may not of been the one that got them some fame (The Blackening) but there's no denying this is a fucking awesome album. I recommend this to anyone who likes metal, simply put.
Machine Head's Burn My Eyes is a release that propelled groove metal to new levels of popularity and aggression and also managed to divide the metal subculture into two camps. One, a group of jaded thrash metal purists who blame Burn My Eyes along with other groove metal releases such as Chaos A.D. and Vulgar Display of Power for the demise of thrash metal in the early 1990's. The other, 90's metal fans enjoy this release for nearly everything it does and defends it almost rabidly against camp number one. These two groups of metal fans have made Burn My Eyes, like most groove metal, one of metal's big controversies.
The idea that this is a failed attempt at thrash metal is not true in the least, as it was never meant to be thrash in the first place. Sure, while Robb Flynn was a member of Vio-lence, a thrash band. You have to remember that Machine Head is a different band altogether that meant to have a different sound, even if that sound meant moving to another style of metal. You also have to consider that perhaps thrash briefly dying off in the 90's could have been for the genre's own good. Thrash metal, as much as I love it, was getting very same-y by the dawn of the 90's with a lot of bands sounding generic and highly derivative of one another. Record labels were trying to push as many new thrash bands as possible and the genre was running out of ideas for the time. Grunge and groove metal may have briefly kicked thrash out of existence, but they also gave thrash it's well needed hiatus from popularity that kept it interesting instead of becoming a pile of regurgitated, boring trash. This album helped give thrash some necessary shut eye while carving itself a unique place in the groove metal circle. But I could argue about legacies, styles, and genres all I want, but that's not what we're here for. You want to know about the music.
All I could say is that this album is blistering and pissed off. It's seething with rage and anger at almost all times. The drilling guitar tone and riffs serve to further this feeling of frustrated rage. Vocals are usually shouted angrily and the guitars are often used to make painful screeching sound effects when they feel necessary. Instrument wise, it's beyond mad; almost to the point of lashing out violently and biting your ear off.
Davidian kicks the album off with raging guitars and destructive, forceful riffs accompanied by Robb's enraged vocals which detail violent political attitude (i.e. LET FREEDOM RING WITH A SHOTGUN BLAST!) and just general destruction throughout. This song is a winner. Old starts off with a static-y narration and thudding bass which leads into one of the best groove metal riffs out there which could certainly get you up and moving. Old is also structured to build tension and it succeeds well moving towards the end with it's rising chorus that builds up into the thunderous ending. These first two songs get the album off to a good start and send a message of condensed rage.
The next four songs vary in quality with two being decent and the others falling flat A Thousand Lies doesn't start off too bad and has a decent riff to it. A heavy, driving groove is laid out for the song and turns it into a nice stomp-fest. None But My Own is mostly just chugging and shouting, nothing interesting there.Then The Rage To Overcome comes along and relies on scathing buildup to keep the destruction going. Death Church though, is flat and boring, moving at a snail's pace. You should skip that one
The last five songs finish this album on a blistering note. A Nation On Fire and Blood For Blood speed things back up and the songwriting improves into something somewhat structured. They're blistering tracks that up the ante for violence and sounds like they're just spoiling for a fight. I'm Your God Now is my favorite song off this album as it builds off of a grim intro and shows some semblance of emotion aside from anger. It starts off melancholy and morose and the anger is toned down a bit. On this album, that's a welcome break. It launches into slamming riffs while giving a swirling chorus and a structure with a break towards the end that builds tension for the shredding ending. Real Eyes, Realize, Real Lies is a transition track with sinister atmosphere and samples of fiery political material. It could be a really great experimental track, the only part I don't care for is when Robb decides to interject; but otherwise, it's a good song. And finally, Block closes the album with a rumbling riff that would be very easy to start moving around to and take out the pent up anger that Burn My Eyes builds. It succeeds as a song and it would be hard to fight the need to throw yourself around when hearing it. This last song closes the album on a satisfying note.
Burn My Eyes Is a violent and dangerous example of 90's groove metal and one of the better albums in the genre. The songs on this album are vicious and memorable, leaving an echo in your head. The later songs on the album work especially well to it's advantage and Burn My Eyes certainly works for me. It's a blistering exercise in viciousness and it would certainly do to give this one a listen.
Machine Head are perhaps one of the most misunderstood bands within the (true) metal community, and their 1994 debut is perhaps the most bright example of it. The album has gathered some criticism for it's poor resemblance of thrash metal. But why is it even considered a thrash album in the first place? The fact that the frontman of the band is a former guitarist of Vio-Lence is a laughably invalid reason for this bias. Listen to this album for what it is, rate it for what it is - a slightly thrash-influenced groove metal LP, and you will learn to appreciate it for the ass-kicking record that it really is.
One of the things I like about the album the most is its production - so heavy, yet so clear. I don't remember hearing anything produced as good as this ever before 1994 and by my own experience I can safely say that most albums produced even some years after this one fall under by quality. The guitar tone is sick, the drums are blasting-heavy and both of these are accompanied by a bass that fits perfectly into the temperature scale of the other instruments.
Musically speaking, the strongest side of Burn My Eyes are riffs - riffs that are groovy as fuck and weigh over a ton. Maybe they aren't the most technically proficient riffs ever, but I can hardly recall ones that are as groovy and catchy as the main riff of Old, or riffs that make as inspired use of natural harmonics as the ones from Davidian. Not all songs here have a solo, and even among those that have there isn't particularly many that are worth mentioning, but on the bright side each solo seems like it's in its place. Furthermore, this is the type of metal that can be enjoyable even without leads flying around in every song.
Like it is typical for Machine Head - the drumming is good. Not as outstandingly good as the work of Dave McLain on the later albums but still quite impressive. Chris Kontos on here is without a doubt much better than McLain was on the next couple of albums, and when comparing what McLain is capable of nowadays and what Kontos could back in 1994 - it's actually pretty damn close.
Adam Duce as a bassist never impressed me, and he doesn't to this day, but his contribution as a backing vocalist is worth pointing out on some occasions. I would even argue that Duce would make a much better lead vocalist than Flynn is. Which leads me to...
...the bad: Robb Flynn's utterly terrible, uninspired, sophomoric... I can't even find the right word to describe how fucking ill of a singer Flynn is. Don't get me wrong here, I respect the hell out of Flynn as a songwriter and guitarist, but he should have never attempted harsh vocals. Yes, harsh vocals, because his clean singing on some Machine Head songs like Descend the Shades of Night, Darkness Within and others is actually pretty good. That said, I don't want him to attempt power metal vocals on further MH albums, but his usual vocal style is a massive pain to the ears. Maybe if he would have attempted growling, I would give this album a 99% rating.
Another drawback are the lyrics, the second most annoying thing about Machine Head. Again, Flynn has a talent of writing decent music, but his poetry is almost as mediocre as Louie Clemente's drumming on the classic Testament albums.
Negative aspects aside, Burn My Eyes has good songwriting overall, it tries to deliver groove, and it does it damn well. Mostly the songs here are mid-tempo, but there are a few faster ones like Blood for Blood and A Nation on Fire (towards the end). There are some acoustic sections that are also really enjoyable, like the intro of A Nation Fire (one of the finest moments off the whole LP imo) and I'm Your God Now. It may run for a bit too long, but it includes some unpredictable moments in it as well that keep you from falling asleep.
In conclusion, Burn My Eyes is heavy, groovy, sometimes thrashy, maybe other times even shitty, but overall a very decent and well produced album. If you are a fan of thrash metal, don't even bother finding something to your preference in this. I do however recommend this to any listener of metal who doesn't expect anything at all from this - the best way to enjoy this classic is to drop down your preferences and give a fresh look to music that you typically wouldn't listen to. It takes time to grow, for me personally, it took quite a lot. But for now, I enjoy the hell out of this every time I decide to put it on a full spin. Do check this album out, if you still haven't, and see what Burn My Eyes might do to you.
I can’t believe how amazingly underrated this album is. I bet a lot of people who speak ill of it tend to project “core”-like sounds that aren’t there. Sure, the band did release a couple of “core” crap albums, but this isn’t it. This is pure thrash metal, my friend. Pure, unstoppable and ripping-your-face thrash metal from 1994. But not thrash the way it got so popular in the 1980’s underground. At a time when many of the movement propelling bands were releasing some of the worst crap thrash metal has ever had to deal with, Machine Head gave the style a twist of modernity, adding a whole lot of raw, unadulterated groove to the backbone thrash sound of the songs. This album was a huge gasp of fresh air to the genre.
Why? Because “Burn my Eyes” takes the typical thrash uncompromising aggressiveness and melts it into a cadence of highly intense over the top guitar riffs. The whole guitar work is excellent throughout, portraying a beastly sound, heavy as hell, and giving sway to bridges that end up in solos that will make you bang your head madly. The bass doesn’t actually stand out in most of the songs, but it really doesn’t matter that much, because you can feel the groove it conveys by accompanying the guitars, especially in the slower tempo sections. The drums contribute with an extra dose of weight to the album – they are most surely not the best drum lines in metal, but they are still awesome and fit the overall feel of the songs perfectly. There are enough blasts to make you want to spank a wall with your head, but the skin beating goes way, way beyond that mere sort of repetitiveness – the balance between faster, slower, groovier, thicker, and even encompassed passages is absolutely frantic, portraying a continuous feel of aggression. I mean, the way every single song is as heavy as a pack of mega fauna beasts stampeding towards you, is the result of an extremely thick and super enraged feel you get from each corner of the album. The result is an extremely catchy album with lots of easily reminded choruses and structures.
It is important to mention that there is not the sort of aggression you get from standard thrash songs, though. The sort of aggression you get here is very much urban, immediate, every-day, down to earth. The issues covered here are as blunt and brutal as the daily troubled existence of those living in constant distress. And what is really awesome here is the way the music itself makes you feel that distress yourself, putting images in your brain of screwed up urban zones where handguns are the answer for nearly anything.
Rob Flynn, apart from the excellent guitar work, also takes care of the vocals in a highly enraged way. From head to toe, you get the feeling he is going to grab a machine gun at any second and blast your brains with it. It sounds great, because his voice is harsh, raw and a bit moist, but shouted. Even the clean parts are great, because his voice is naturally low and somewhat cavernous.
Above all, “Burn my Eyes” is a highly intense album, one to listen to when you are really pissed off, or when you have tons of spare energy – because be sure that while listening to this, you won’t be able to stop giving sway to your neck. You will even be grinding your teeth through most of this album. Let me tell you, it is a perfect soundtrack for any riot near you. Of course, one can not overlook the political message included here, which clearly calls for upheaval towards political and social injustice, by promoting a sort of a revolutionary awareness engaged in outraged violence. But it really doesn’t matter if you agree with the political view portrayed here or not, because the lyrics are very cool anyway, and metal is about violence and confrontation as much as it is about Satan, hell, Vikings, murder or Tolkien.
This is a monstrous thrash album with lots of groove in it that make it a very heavy one. There are no stand out tracks here, the whole album is intensely homogenous in quality, but diverse enough from track to track, allowing you to individually recognize every one. Nevertheless, there are specific parts that must be pointed out, namely the instrumental fading out to the opening track (heavy as hell) and the guitar riff being repeated slowing down along with the drums at the final 58 seconds of “A Thousand Lies” – both are awesome examples of the perfect bonding of backbone thrash and slowed down groove.
This album opened a whole new set of doors to hundreds, if not thousands, of new bands. Many took the path of melting “core” crap and metal. Unfortunately, so did Machine Head in two of their albums. But this is not one such album. This was groundbreaking back in the day and still is a powerhouse of energy and raw groove thrash aggression. Make no mistake.
The albums of Machine Head of “today” are completely strange from those that were made at the beginning (though indeed those decent are only two). “Burn My Eyes” was the first album of this band and one of the best (post) thrash metal albums of the ’90s years. In a few words, a very great debut influenced by thrash metal bands like Slayer and Metallica (in regards to the riffs, solos, and lyrics…) and Pantera and Sepultura (in regards ti the style of singing of Robb Flynn).
This album proposes to us thrash/groove metal that's raw and massive from to the old and wise Bay Area and this we can understand thanks to opener “Davidian” with effective drumming from Chris Kontos and a beautiful chorus that sets off one of the phrases most famous for the band: “let freedom ring with a shotgun blast”. The next one, “Old”, is also a good song that follows the same rhythm as the previous song, but this time to give way to the dances is the powerful bass of Adam Duce that can be heard easily. “A Thousand Lies” is also a very hectic song that rages after a slow start and possesses a solo that's distorted and fast. “None But my Own” has more or less the same level as the previous songs in that the chorus issues an inhuman rage. This song also possesses an adrenaline solo.
The other songs that have fascinated me on this album are two semi-ballads, “A Nation on Fire” and “I’m Your God Now”, an element that seeks traces of the ballads of Metallica. The first is good and triggers the end with an heavy riff accompanied with the pounding drums of Kontos. The second is my absolute favourite with a fantastic instrumental section where the singing of Flynn is clean at the beginning, but once more approaches to the chorus and the vocals become aggressive. Then there is the short “Blood for Blood”, a blow to the teeth of thrash metal that remembers old Slayer, an headbanging song where halfway though is a melodic part that can resume breathing and afterward breaks out again.
Unfortunately, this album presents “filler songs”, and these are “The Rage to Overcome”, “Death Church”, “Real Eyes, Realize, Real Lies”, and the final track, “Block”. They aren’t bad, but rather on a good level, but not like the previous songs. The first has a good instrumental section, but the voice of Flynn isn’t very convincing. The second is slower and the rhythm drops, but it makes for pleasant listening, disturbing that species of a “subliminal message” that's at the beginning of the song. The third song is a semi-instrumental song of high-level when, at the end, Robb Flynn sets out screaming loudly the words of the title. The finale, “Block”, closes the album with violence, missing the solo and is replaced by an instrumental and spectacular section. Also, this one remembers the closing of Metallica’s albums (“Metal Militia”, “Damage, Inc.”, “Dyers Eve”, and “The Struggle Within”).
“Burn My Eyes”, after all, is a good album and doesn’t present significant drops in rhythm, but unfortunately after that “The More Things Change…” is oriented to a more commercial genre. But it must be remembered that this album and the next are the two open-circuits to the movement of post-thrash/groove metal, together with “Far Beyond Driven”.
1994. Corruption. Racism. Hate. Have no doubts that this is pretty cool. The church has failed. Jesus came down and he cried. That's when a thrashing avalanche of pure metal riffing is coming after you. Machine Head are one of those bands that sadly flawed their careers (not without knowing how to fix it, though), but pointing flaws on their 1994 studio debut Burn My Eyes is a very hard task - it's not by accident that this is one of the most legendary metal albums of all time. Of course, not to undermine Machine Head's impact, but this shouldn't exactly come by surprise considering that this band was formed by musicians which already had a good reputation from other bands - most specifically Robb Flynn of Vio-lence and Chris Kontos of Verbal Abuse. Nonetheless such precedents don't make it less surprising and outstanding.
Sonically, Machine Head successfully created a bridge between the intense thrash metal of the late 1980s and early 1990s with the newer groove thrash sound (of which this album would become a classic) and, to some extent, to hardcore as well. The result is an impressively brutal yet street-smart imprint completed by sociopolitical lyrical content which exploits a vast array of themes rangingfrom the 1992 Los Angeles riots to organized religion, not forgetting street violence.
The bad points of this record? The only thing I can think of is the song "I'm Your God Now". It is somewhat uninspired, not to mention that its mood and its lyrical content make it sad and somewhat depressive when compared to the rest of the record. The song was written about a friend of the band who died as a consequence of his substance abuse. While it is indeed nice to see tha band making him a tribute, it sounds a lot like the dark point of a revolted album.
Revolted, yes, because the feeling you have as soon as the legendary opener "Davidian" starts playing is that was written by someone who was angry with the system. Everything in this album seems to symbolize anger, rage and revolt against the social disorder of its era, something which is lacking not only in their subsequent output, but also in most of their copycats. One of the main contributors for this overtly aggressive sound is undoubtely Logan Mader, who gives us one of the best guitar solos ever in "None but My Own", and alongside with Robb Flynn pulls some of the thrashi riffs in history in "Block" and "Old" (3:17), contributing to the brutality of the album. But that's not all, Adam Duce's bass also helps a lot with its passages in "Davidian", "Old" and the beginning of "Blood for Blood". Robb Flynn's Phil Anselmo-esque vocals also increase the anger-filled atmosphere, either in the mythological "Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast" war cry in "Davidian", or the chorus of "None but My Own". He also uses cleaner singing and spoken word sections, such as in "The Rage to Overcome", "A Nation on Fire" and "Death Church", increasing the variety of the album while still retaining a general spirit and attitude.
The drumming in this album is arguably the best on any album Machine Head ever released, courtesy of Chris Kontos, who leads us not only to one of the most brutal breakdowns ever (the end of "Davidian"), but also (and this may very well be his finest moment in this record) to the introduction of "The Rage to Overcome". His drumming can only be described as excellent and one can be pretty sure that he would influence later drummers. The brutal yet technical nature of the drumming not only completes the album's mood but also created new standards for future metal acts, most of whom would fail to succeed in pulling what Machine Head did.
Finally, one last word on the song "Real Eyes, Realize, Real Eyes". It shouldn't be considered a song in its own, as it acts as the introduction for "Block" (and in their demo it wasn't a song of its own). However it acts very well as the instrumental song of the album, despite its repetitive riffing, and together with all the sampling on it, this track ends up by synthetizing the record's nature. I still stand that this song and "Block" should be in the same track, though.
Machine Head are a band that, due to their musical misfortunes (especially their 2001 disaster) tend to divide opinions: some people say that they are one of the best metal bands on Earth while others will intitule them as sellouts and will say that (in the words of Kerry King) "they're responsible for rap-metal". Without wanting to contest any of those opinions (bands don't endure for 20 years out of luck and Machine Head did drop their groove thrash style when it no longer was the current vibe, not to mention they influenced unmeasurable amounts of mediocre me-too acts), and as I said before, this album is not a legend by luck. This album is a legend because it is one of the angriest and most in-your-face metal albums ever. Which means that this is also one of the best metal albums ever. Many tried to reproduce this and failed. This is a recognizable classic of a sometimes underrated era.
I like Machine Head. Let's get that out of the way. They aren't my favourite band, they don't even play my favourite genre of music. But I do not understand why this album, nor any of Machine Head's albums (save for a couple) have got such poor review scores.
If you are an impartial listener, you should love this album. There's riffs, leads, hooks and actual songs. I admit some of those songs are overrated.
"Davidian" for example, gets way more praise than is due. Yeah, I like it when Robb Flynn shouts, "Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast" as much as the next guy, but it's not a classic moment. The riffs pound along very nicely and the outro riff is a touch of class in a genre where there isn’t a great deal, though some of the structuring and the solo fail to strike me as amazing as I write this.
What we do have on this album, though are several other classic moments. There's "Old" which has more exciting riffs than most bands manage in an album; there's "None But My Own" that has a solo that seems to push further and further into the beyond, exceeding itself with every note; there's real brutality on "Blood For Blood". It’s this last song particularly that sets Machine Head apart from everything else happening in 1994. Apart from a few bands, the real feeling in the music had started to wane: “Blood For Blood” has a solid opening, which gives the main riff even more venom and comparative speed. Flynn spits out the lyrics and the solo really hits home.
“Old” isn’t quite as vicious but there’s complexity and groove (not in the negative sense of the word) that makes me want to get to my feet and shout the words along with the band. The chorus is lacking in creativity and tune but really doesn’t detract from the onslaught of guitars.
Really, the so-called "classic" moments on this album are the weakest. The opener suffers from it a bit, "Block" isn't all it's cracked up to be, although I wouldn't argue with it in a mosh pit, since it has that sledgehammer riff and a great refrain. "A Thousand Lies" and "A Nation On Fire" are both slow to pick up, but really develop into good songs, the latter in particular comes to life as the chorus begins.
“Death Church” has a relatively slow start too, but is just creepy, with a repetitive melody and more emotive lyrics, touching on the alienation and hatred in the Bay Area that Flynn comes back to a couple of times in the album. “I’m Your God Now” has a similar aesthetic but is far more emotive, with the theme of drug addiction cropping up amid the choking grooves and thick sound.
The only weakness I can easily pick out on this album is the vocals which, along with the pacing, can just cause the fire to die a bit. Robb Flynn had a fairly good voice, but he's best when he's singing at pace in his gruff voice; really he didn't have the skill to carry a tune in the slow sections in 1994.
But I like it. The production causes the guitars to bite, which I don't believe happens enough in true thrash metal (not that I'm saying MH are true thrash, that's just something I feel) and the groove increase the catchiness factor quite a bit. To be honest, how many people who criticise this album today were aware of the shitty state of real thrash in the middle of the '90s? Machine Head didn't exactly save the day, but they certainly didn't ruin it either and they're still quickening my pulse with songs like "Old", "Blood For Blood" and "Death Church" 16 years on.
There has been this long enduring cliché among many fans of this band, and other bands that have allegedly declined musically, that their early work is where one ought to go to get the proper listening experience. Generally speaking, while this sentiment holds true to an extent for Machine Head ( if you discount their 2007 offering “The Blackening” ), the sad truth is that there wasn’t really much to this band from the beginning. In many other cases where the sentiment is that the early works are superior, this consequential lack of an actual greatness in the band’s origin also tends to hold true. But “Burn My Eyes” holds a unique position as being one of the most blatant testimonies of a band’s inherent inability to break away from mediocrity even when at their best.
One could probably assert that the problem lays in the groove metal style itself, as it tends to lend itself to a very monotonous mixture of hypnotic riff fragments, nearly redundant restatements of said fragments guising as points of contrast, and a really pedestrian pseudo-tough guy vocal approach that became cliché a year before this came out. Robb Flynn seems all too happy not only to embrace every aspect of this trend, which was very well established circa 1994, but to exaggerate them well beyond what even Anthrax and Pantera were seemingly willing to at the time. His vocal presentation here definitely tends much closer to John Bush than Phil Anselmo, though some obvious allusions to the latter are on full display when he tries to dirty up his voice in an attempt to sound as heavy as Hetfield did on “And Justice For All”. Likewise, the building blocks of the grungy rock character of “Sound Of White Noise” and the hyper-repetitive 3 note chug lines with the frequent and very annoying guitar screams of “Vulgar Display Of Power” are littered all over most of these songs.
But in spite of Flynn’s wildly unoriginal incorporation of the flavors of the post-thrash 90s, the collective strength and metallic nature of “Burn My Eyes” slightly edges out the 2 chief aforementioned influences on it. Flynn actually manages to craft a few solid songs here and there that come somewhat close to an “I Hear Black” sound, taking care both not to over-indulge in lead guitar work to compensate for the watered down riffs as Dimebag Darrel did, nor become a slouch at soloing as Dan Spitz did at the behest of the grunge loving media and promotion whores. The principle winner in the lot is the album’s opener “Davidian”, which listens like a heavily down-tuned and slower progression from Vio-lence’s sound on “Nothing To Gain”. There’s just enough differing riffs and attitude to the vocal delivery without becoming either Grungy or goofy, meshed with a tasteful mix of groovy and double bass happy drumming to make this flirt enough with thrash to actually earn a title such as half-thrash.
Sadly, not long after the close of the lone Machine Head classic, things start to slip away from any semblance of true aggression. “Old” does contain a similar set of simple yet hard hitting and animated riffs as that of “Davidian”, but Flynn’s infamous Bush-inspired clean voice destroys the mood set by the guitars every time the chorus sets in. “A Thousand Lies” also starts off somewhat promising, but deteriorates into a semi-rapped precursor to Limp Bizkit during the verses, though it redeems itself during the solo section where a ratcheted up speed metal section comes seemingly out of nowhere. Basically after this the album deteriorates into a night of the living half-ballads for much of the remaining duration, as the clean guitars and clean vocals usher in a really bland attempt at Alice In Chains worship. There are a couple of fairly decent songs such as the mid-tempo crusher “The Rage To Overcome” and the speed fest “Blood For Blood”, but they generally tend to either overindulge on guitar screams or bad clean vocals.
To recap my initial point, there is no mysteriously great beginning point for Machine Head, just a displaced member of the Bay Area scene who decided to turn with the winds of media opinion. What he brings to the table contains elements of what would later become nu-metal, including the addiction to down tuning to compensate for a lack of inherent heaviness in the riff work, something which even Pantera didn’t delve too heavily into at this point. Though it does carry remnants of the older style, it is easy to see where bands like DevilDriver and Slipknot got their influences from. Many may protest this assertion, but the comparison becomes pretty obvious upon closer review. Speaking for myself, at it’s best, “Burn My Eyes” is a continuing reminder as to why this style of metal bores the hell out of me, and while I can’t quite hate it as I do their later releases, there isn’t really enough for me to like in order to put it on any kind of a pedestal, let alone the one that many have put it on.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on March 18, 2010.
There is a strange realm in the world of music, particularly in metal, in which there is no true middle ground over fan reaction to a certain band. Machine Head exists almost completely in this inbetween world. Their fans generally overhype them and their detractors usually overcriticize them. There is no "well, maybe" or "kinda, but not completely" responses. Either you love or hate this band, which seems to be the truth behind most listeners out there, as one could guess by looking at the scores of this album.
I, for one, do not label bands based on style nor past releases. I do not generally hop onto the group bashing bandwagon, unless they truly deserve it (*cough* Metallica *cough*, excuse me.) Machine Head is an irony of sorts, as they do not deserve most of the media praise they get, nor do they deserve to be ripped a new by every other person on the planet. Sure, they made alot of terrible decisions in their time, such as following trends that led to mediocrity spewing forth like a busted sewer line. Still, this band has released some worthwhile music in their time, just not always stellar albums.
The media has this fascination with dubbing each and every "post-thrash" band in the 90's and today as a thrash band. I honestly think this is where most of the heated criticism comes from, as thrash fans are up in arms over a slowed down, simpler band being paraded around by media critics and are proclaimed to be new, revitalizing acts of the thrash metal world. Keep in mind that these are the same media hacks who drew up the totally bogus topic of the "Big 4" of American thrash. In reality, all of those four bands were challenged and even overcome at some point by various lesser known groups. Yet to drive the point home, I completely agree with translucent2you and Flid_Merchant in stating that this is not a thrash metal album. Hell, "Countdown to Extinction" has more thrash influences than this.
What "Burn My Eyes" does offer is a bridging gap between 80's thrash and 90's groove. The riffs are still respectable, and there are enough variations in the songs to keep them interesting. Things tend to be more melodic during the longer songs, making them more melancholic than the shorter songs, but again the energy shifts help keep things together. Rob Flynn's baritone singing voice sounds fresh thanks to the production quality, which is well done but still maintains a bit of an edge. I know one thing, Flynn's singing is a hell of a lot more tolerable than Anselmo's death grunts in a megaphone sound on "Far Beyond Driven," released this same year.
We start this off with "Davidian," which quickly establishes itself as one of the better songs here. As a groove metal song, it works on all levels and tops everything Pantera was doing at this point in time. "Old" is a similiar story, more mid-tempo work, and kicks up with more energy than most things that were happening on "Far Beyond Driven." After that song in particular, we kick into a number of longer songs that exhibit the structural changes I spoke of earlier. "A Thousand Lies," "None But My Own," "Death Church," "A Nation on Fire," and "I'm Your God Now" all fall into this category. None of these songs are bad, though "I'm Your God Now" does begin to wear out its welcome and is one of the lesser tracks here. "A Nation on Fire" is the best of these, slowly building until a thrashy ending. For those who like "The More Things Change..." it reminds heavily of the song "Violate," but it gets to the point quicker and doesn't choose to meander for six minutes.
One of my favorite songs here is "Blood for Blood." I have a feeling if this entire album consisted of songs like this, people wouldn't have such a negative reaction to it. That song isn't epic, like something off "Darkness Descends" was, but its respectable thrash metal. The riffset is simplified, as is the usual story here, but it works nonetheless. The ending in "Block" in more mid-tempo in the same vein as "Davidian" and "Old," though it comes out better than the latter song.
At the end of the day, I still like this album. I discovered rather late in my plunge into metal, but still latched onto it nonetheless. I don't get alot of the criticisms thrown at this album, but I see it comes largely because it isn't thrash, again pointing to my analysis earlier in this review. "Burn My Eyes" should not be judged as a thrash album, it should be judged as a "post-thrash" album where it truly belongs. In that scope of things, it comes out considerably higher than "Far Beyond Driven" did, which was hounded by constant repetition and a lack of ideas. Its actually more comparable to Testament's "Low," as both albums have a similiar context, though I'd argue the songs here are slightly better. If you enjoyed that album, chances are, you'll enjoy this one. Just don't get caught on that thought that this is a pure thrash album, as nothing could be further from the truth.
I have listened to Machine Head in the past and never caught onto why there are so many people who fellate them. Not necessarily on the Metal-Archives, as anyone can see their albums are not rated very highly, but what I am talking about is your average discreet metal listener who says they listen to all types of music but in reality all they listen to is things on the radio. Since Machine Head seemed to have been formulating the nu-metal sound from their very beginning I can see why they do get a lot of praise.
One problem that is bothering me though is the heavy similarity to Pantera. Now I am one who loves Pantera, as one of my first metal bands I really listened to there is nothing better than hearing 5 Minutes Alone blasting out of my speakers. This may turn a lot of “pure” metalheads away from this review, but seeing since if you don’t like Pantera at all you are an idiot I don’t care about you. The main reason why it is bothering me so much is because even though it does sound like Pantera, it is a really really bad Pantera. As a matter of fact this album sounds pretty close to the likes of Damageplan, and we all know Damageplan isn’t very good. So with the boring ripped of sound of Pantera and the beginnings of nu-metal you add the vocals from Flynn that have absolutely no power to them. If you have ever heard Zakk Wylde sing I think you may know what I am talking about, cool sounding voice, bad nasally sound, no effort, bad lyrics, ridiculously repeating parts of songs over and over and you get any son on this album.
It’s not that the songs on the album are ridiculously bad or anything, it is just that they are so boring that they could not be improved without scratching the whole thing and starting over. The simple minded discreet metalheads are the ones who listen to this music, they don’t listen to anything more extreme such as Suffocation or Obituary at the time, and they probably listen to a lot of Slipknot, Mudvayne, Fear Factory, and Pantera. As much as I dislike putting Fear factory and Pantera on that list it is true, the fans of later day Fear Factory and Pantera listen to nu-metal. Now being a former fan of Slipknot and Mudvayne and growing up in the time when these bands really prospered, the real nu-metallers were surely the type of people who made this band survive. Well that and they were on RoadRunner. They were the record label responsible for signing many nu-metal acts; this means that if bands like this had not been on a record label that was a major label this music may have died a long time ago because it is not good.
While Flynn is doing his best half ass attempt Phil Anselmo impression and his half ass attempt at creating a groove/thrash album he does seem to have redeeming qualities in guitar playing. These redeeming qualities are the solos, yet still half assed like the rest of the music they are still enjoyable. It seemed more than going after a groove/thrash album; Flynn was going after a tough guy album. With all the mellow parts it seems as if he was still confused on what he wanted to do. Overall in a tough guy album there usually aren’t a lot of things that stand out, except when you get to the breakdowns. Hence the problem with the current deathcore scene, but that is a completely different problem.
I guess around this time though bands were going for the tough guy sound, this was about the time when the first KoЯn album came out, Sepultura’s Chaos A.D., Exhorder and Pantera were popular. With the popularity of this music on the rise more thrash bands jumped on the groove metal bandwagon causing fans to like it more because seasoned veterans were joining the mix of completely uninspired unoriginal music. But just to think at the turn of the decade four of my favorite albums ever were released; Rust in Fucking Peace, Cause of Fucking Death, Seasons in the Fucking Abyss, and Fucking Painkiller. Now what caused such a turn around? Money. This music is more appealing to the average younger radio listener, hence why I liked this stuff when I was 13-16. I didn’t have a lot of access to the internet until about the age of 16 when I started to discover how good music could actually get. Now as we can all see today what is tolerable on the radio is still the more popular and more profitable music. Slipknot is headlining tours and has been on tours with Machine Head. So this brings me to what the music really is.
The music is simply a thrash album that cannot hold up its britches. In other words a thrash album where the musicians are just too fucking lazy to think of anything creative to write. Not even a large amount of solos or creative solos at that. I know I said that may be the only redeeming part of the album and that is because it is simply the only parts that do not make me want to fall asleep. The songs are all drawn on too long, I guess it makes it easier for the radio listener to pay attention and follow along. The breakdowns allowed the tough guys to tighten their bandanas and rip their wife beaters in the mosh pits to make themselves feel even tougher while jumping around like little monkeys. Listening to an album like this again makes me happy I never went a Machine Head or Slipknot concert because of the style of people that are there. Once again this is the problem with deathcore. Just like in deathcore Machine Head has implemented the use of breakdowns…just for the sake of having fucking breakdowns. Absolutely no point to them, as if things were not slow efuckingnough in the first place we have to slow it down more because this allows the listener to catch their breath from all the “intensity” from the breakdown before it.
As I have already said I do enjoy Pantera and other groove metal acts, but the same with any genre if you do not utilize your skills or the aspects of the genre nothing will be good or redeeming. I am proud of myself thus far by not mention Flynn trying to make the music “epic.” But I just have to mention it because I get the feeling that is what Flynn was going for in using an echo effect on his vocals when the music begins to slow down entering or ending a breakdown.
This album is not receiving such a low score because of the style of music, but because of the doors it opened for nu-metal acts like I mentioned before to feel like they are tough and can make music to appeal to people and make money at the same time. Had an album not opened the doors for such a horrible form of music to grow and formulate in front of every real metal bands eyes this album would get a higher score; even though I say this the album may only have gotten about a 23, but still. The biggest problem still seems to be though with this album, well with the band and musicians in general is that it could have a chance at being something special; but with the thoughts preying on teens who could not keep their slimy hands off of this music they stuck with a style that would get them money not praise. Basically stay away from this album; I gave in to someone to listen to it intently who said it was a classic and very good. I knew it wasn’t a classic and didn’t have a significant piece in the great history of metal like he told me as well; in reality it is the complete opposite.
The nineties were absolutely the period of downfall for one of the purest forms of metal that ever existed on Earth: thrash metal. The end of the 80s provided us several epic milestones in a genre that was already changing: the sheer brutality of the first wave of this genre was filtered through the acquired technique in long years of experiences and music, trying to be more mature, less obsessive and, simply, in another direction. The first years of the 90s were not bad for this genre, but the death metal was becoming more famous and well-known, while some half-thrash metal albums began to rise even among the bands you didn’t expect.
On the other hand, we had completely new realities trying to jump on this train and leave a mark, a sign of their presence. One of these was Machine Head. For Rob Flynn was easy to start something new after the good job he did with Vio-lence band and find new guys to follow him on this new adventure. The genre has changed. The influences come from several sides and what Pantera already did in this genre it’s impossible to delete from their minds. By the way, this new form of “metal” has a completely new approach. Some riffs have survived from the breakdown of the new decade but the new influences are preponderant and they are called “rap” and “hardcore”.
Ok, already from the opener “Davidian”, we can listen to an unsmooth, stop-start technique on the guitars; grooving and massive-like, tired Godzilla riffs; effects on the guitars and the really bland, annoying voice of Rob. His style takes everything from the hardcore in terms of screams and rap if we are talking about the timbre and the cadence of the voice. If you expect something fast, here everything is re-written under another kind of sense and the only speed you can find is for some parts and mostly referred to the drums. The rest is like a mid-paced progression with groove parts and shitty vocals with even too clean parts like in the chorus to “Old”. “A Thousand Lies” has a dark arpeggio while the metallic, hyper high in volumes guitars and the recurring stop-and-go technique on the guitars that sounds unflowing and horrible.
The vocals are not angry at all, they are weak, derivative and naff. The songs are way too long and it is so boring that it brings me into the arms of Morpheus. There’s nothing to be happy about. In “None but my Own” they tried to be dark but they failed once again and the guitars are just annoying with those horrible whistles and sudden doom tempo parts. The guitars are low tuned, powerful but extremely simple on their “riffs” and the aggression lacks completely. “The Rage to Overcome” is repetitive, martial, without a soul and utterly irritating. “Death Church” displays more than one eye to Korn, like in the rest of the album too. Wow, this is the crap in form of music.
Once again “A Nation on Fire” shows dark, long and boring arpeggios and bass parts by the beginning with soft, mallcore vocals to restart like the other song. The structure is always the same and it’s not good, absolutely: the groove by the guitars, the profound, rap style voice of Rob and the same pile of shit. It’s all there and all smells like a dead rat. Even in a “more violent” and direct song like “Blood for Blood” the effects are overused and too heavy. “One, two, three, four, go!!” vocal part is simply stupid while even the up tempo parts are full of groove. We scratch the bottom with “Real Eyes, Realize, Real Lies” and its burden of filtrated, artificial vocals and the innocent dark atmospheres.
All the songs on this album are identical and someone is still able to criticise the death metal or the violent thrash for this fault. Just listen to this and make your mind once for all, this album is going to help you. There’s no violence, no aggression, the old style has gone forever and now is stone cold in the modern, crappy riffs by this basically useless and even damaging band. This is one of the milestones to understand why and how the genre changed so heavily and drastically in those years.
My god I hate this album. I truly hate it. And yes, I’ve heard it hundreds of times. Some friends of mine really got into this stuff and of course they gave me a tape without me actually asking for it. And yes, I did try it. Several times. I was wondering what the hype was all about. For years everybody was talking about this band.
This album featured two musicians I liked until the day this atrocity came out, Rob Flynn from Vio-Lence and Chris Kontos from Verbal Abuse. Of course during the nineties I had gotten used to expecting something different from the eighties musicians who used to play thrash metal , but this was MTV proof bad boy music with some guitars thrown in which didn’t do much besides being heavy for the sake of heaviness and chugging a bit here and there. Not to mention the effect this kind of music had on the metal scene and the new kind of fans it drew. It is still damaged after all these years and still I also blame this band for it, even though eventually Machine Head came to their senses and started playing something similar to metal on their 5th (!) studio album.
Let me put it bluntly: this is Wiggah rock. Hearing ‘Yo’ or ‘Muthahfuckuh’, jumping to slow music... That was the whole reason I got into metal during the eighties. To be far away from that bullshit! The whole bad ass attitude borrowed from the US & German hardcore and rap scenes including tattoos made it even worse. What is this shit? It certainly isn’t metal. This is fat men music. I dislike the whole “standing-in-the-back-putting-up-your-agry-face” atmosphere of this music. Leave that to the rappers and overweight hardcore boys.
“Davidian” has some nice ideas on drums from Chris Kontos but in fact “Blood For Blood” is the only song which sounds energetic and refreshing. For the rest of the album it’s the muthahfuckah-attitude all around. Come on party people, put your hands in the air and shout “I stole some kids lunch money and therefor I’m a bad boy”. Seriously, when I’m really aggressive, I don’t groove. I rage! Or I pound! Aggressiveness and groovyness simply don’t match.
At least Sepultura, when they started playing mid paced downtuned music, had to guts to incorporate a style (Brazilian music) which normally isn’t “bad ass” and make it into something characteristic. You could say Pantera started it all a few years earlier but at least they still had some ‘riffs’ and a lot more diversity in their songs on Comboys from Hell. ‘Burn My Eyes’ sounds like being heavy for the sake of heaviness and the bad boy attitude is almost comical because of the cheap hardcore and rap metal monosyllabic shouting vocal styles. And by the way, there’s one word even worse than ‘Yo’ and ‘Muthahfuckah’ combined….‘respect’. Yuck! One could even say the shouting of the word ‘respect’ was the start of emo…
If this is the sound of the angy working class, I’m hereby declaring war on the proletariat! Metal is a ‘feeling’ which music gives to you but this album, apart from Blood for Blood (1/11 song = 09 points), never gives me that ‘metal-feeling’. Go back to ‘tha hood’ and take this crap with you.
During the mid 90s there was an abundance of groove metal, with new bands popping up everywhere coupled with some old thrash heroes changing their sound to appeal to fans of this new movement. This music sucked. While Pantera did a reasonably good job of it, the other bands were just plain bad. Machine Head's debut did a lot to help solidify this movement, and unsurprisingly it, like nearly all of the stuff that came out of the genre, isn't very good. Machine Head's sound is similar to that of other groove bands, consisting of downtuned, simplistic grooves that don't really go anywhere or change at all.
There are some good songs on here however. Opener 'Davidian' is the best song they ever did. Although it starts off with a slow paced intro it speeds up into a more moderate pace with a pretty good riff coming in and taking over. Add in an above average solo and this song turns out quite well. 'Blood for Blood' has another boring intro full of random guitar squeals and noises before it speeds up into a good, heavy riff. Although sounding a bit rushed at time, the song is pretty catchy and Flynn's vocals don't sound nearly as pathetic as they normally would. Finally, 'A Thousand Lies' is boring in the verses but it really picks up in the chorus with a nice galloping riff, which saves it from the mediocrity of the rest of the album.
The other songs on here are simply not worth hearing. The riffs are unoriginal and sleep inducing and a lot of the songs seem to drag on and on and on. Not really a good thing considering the songs average out at around five minutes. From the pointless interlude 'Real Eyes, Realize, Real Lies ' which consists of a stupid riff with random noises over the top to the grunge inspired 'I'm Your God Now' which has soft singing in the verses and some predictable groove riffing in the choruses, a lot of this stuff is just pointless and boring. And then there are Flynn's vocals. While I can usually tolerate sub standard vocals the ones on here just piss me off. For example, the song 'Davidian' is almost ruined by the overly loud vocals which are supposed to sound pissed off but are laughable. The previously mentioned 'I'm Your God Now' has him trying to imitate Kurt Cobain in parts, while 'Old' has some cringe worthy moments in the chorus. The album is over produced and polished to the point of absurdity, and the vocals and drums are pulled forward in the mix for some reason.
What really pisses me off though is that despite the blatantly groove riffing, the slowed down pace and the over polished production some people still believe that this shit is thrash. I wasn't expecting a thrash album when I got it, just a solid groove one which didn't overuse it to the point of stupidity. If they put the three good songs on an EP it would be quite good, but alas this is not the case. If you really like groove metal or are one of the aforementioned idiots who don't know what thrash is then you'll probably enjoy this, otherwise just stay away from this and listen to some Vio-lence or something (bet you didn't see that coming).
Machine Head's debut is one definately one of the good ones. Robb Flynn proves himself to be a great musician, as Machine Head rocks the house with this one.
Riffing is obviously MH's highlight. The riffs are mainly guitar driven, and consists of bass-treble picking (you'll get it when you hear), which have become Machine head's trademark. The bass is steady and gives a solid groove and background to the riffs. Even though they are not complex constructions, the riffs are a good effort and not just background.
The songs are constructed in such way that when a good riff shows up, the vocals step down. More in that matter are the quiet parts in the songs that seem to be widespread in nowadays Metalcore and Nu-Metal (and are the reason for the downscoring). So this album is probably one of the roots of this epidemic, but I forgive MH because they kick ass!
Logan Mader also kicks ass here. Although not every song has solo, most of them do, and Mader does not dissappoint and the solos are quite good. Mader seems to put a lot of thought and feel in them, although Flynn's riff underneath is often simple, maybe to accent the solo.
The drumming is more than fair, and does not let down. Chris knows when to take the stage but doesn't often does. When he does he shows feel, yet keeps in order and doesn't get too wild. When the guitar takes the stage, the drumming is in perfect mach and accurate. Even when the riff is ultra-fast (the ending of "A Nation of Fire" for example) - Chris kicks ass.
The production is accurate and solid. Every instrument sounds great and Machine Head talent sounds to its full extent. "Real Eyes, Realize, Real Lies" is an exception, then the Riff sounds underneath the noise and a bit spoils, but in overall its a good track.
In total summery, "Burn My Eyes" consitutes Machine Head's sound for the future, and it is for the best. The riffs rock, the solos are great, and even though there are these quiet parts, the album gives you a full Machine Head experience.
This album is overrated by many and underrated by others. I can safely say I’m middle ground. While it isn’t bad, and it definitely is Machine Head’s best album (to date and probably till the end of time) and shows the potential the band initially had before they stripped themselves of it – it suffers from rabid inconsistencies and poor songwriting.
Absolutely everything is simplistic here. The ultra-fast, sonic riffs of Vio-lence are completely missing, and the band also sounds haphazard and tired. The solos, whenever they occur are absolutely nothing to scream about. The drumming is decent but underwhelming. Vocally, Robb Flynn has a hardcorish bark but his inefficacy doesn't detract from the music here. On a lyrical level, this is quite a different MH from modern MH. The lyrics here employ a ‘tough as nails’ image quite different from the ‘I hate you, I hate you’ mallcore nonsense MH palms off as ‘lyrics’ these days but in the end these lyrics aren’t any more intelligent than their new stuff.
The album starts off very well. Davidian is a half-thrash classic (hah!) with some ultra-heavy riffing, simple but effective song structure and a thick, raw underlying groove. Old is faster and pretty much follows in the same vein but is spoilt by that awful clean chorus. Even ‘A Thousand Lies’ is decent although it is excessively repetitive. ‘None But My Own’ is where the album sinks, what were they attempting at with this? ‘The Rage to Overcome’ is another oddball song. Then, ‘Death Church’ and ‘A Nation On Fire’ go all slow on you. I know variety makes the music better, but it only serves to ruin things when you can’t manage it. ‘Blood For Blood’ returns to the old sound and is a decent track. ‘I’m Your God Now’ is an attempt to break into the mainstream and sounds incredibly lame. ‘Real Eyes, Realise, Real Eyes’ is a completely unnecessary instrumental. The closer, ‘Block’ is much faster than the rest of the album and is in the same league as Davidian and Old though admittedly, it isn’t as interesting.
In conclusion, this seems to be quite a confused release. While it seems keen to stay in the Pantera half-thrash camp, it also meddles dangerously with Biohazard-esque riffing and there are also moments where the band goes entirely mallcore. Therefore one can say, Robb Flynn left Vio-lence for their own good as his haphazard, strange ideas certainly didn’t fit into a band of that style and would have ruined the fondness with which they are remembered today.
Verdict : Definitely MH's best, though that isn't saying much.
If you want to hear Rob Flynn play thrash, go listen to Vio-lence. Machine Head has never attempted to play thrash. So this album should not be judged in accordance with some sort of unwritten thrash rulebook.
For what this album is, lying somewhere between mid-era Pantera, mid-era Metallica, and the last couple of Max-era Sepultura albums (sans tribalism), it is quite good. The first two songs, Davidian and Old, reallly get the album started. Both are extremely catchy, but still heavy, making me want to jump out of my chair and go find the nearest pit. I mean, how can you not love a song where at the peak of the chorus, Rob bellows "Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast." The rest of the album follows in pretty much the same manner, catchy, heavy, and groovy.
The drumming is excellent. If they hadn't found this guy to play drums for them, then yes, this would have been a much more mediocre album. I suppose that it is Rob's band, and he definitely has a concept of how he wanted this album to sound, but the drummer really carries the album. The guitar work is OK. It really isn't anything to brag about by itself, but this is not intended to be a flashy album guitar-wise. It merely serves the purpose of providing heaviness. About on par with latter day Obituary. Rob's vocals are about the same. They exist to serve the music, not to steal the spotlight. And he does actually sing some. It is not terrible, but I was introduced to Machine Head through The Burning Red, so I was already accustomed to Rob singing.
Anyways, if you just enjoy heavy, catchy music, then check this album out. It won't change your life, but you just might get caught banging your head a few times.
Machine Head's 1994 debut seems very much a love/hate album. It also happens to be one of my all time favourite albums, and I find it's style to be rather unique.
One of the main complaints of most people who dislike this album is that it isn't true thrash metal. This is true, it isn't thrash metal at all, and the real problem here is that these people were expecting something different to what they got.
This album throws aside a lot of the traditional characteristics of metal - complex guitars, stretched out songs, and replaces it with all out aggression. No bullshit complicity here, this is simple metal best characterised by the opening track Davidian. Simple riffs, double bass and clean but aggressive vocals form an unrelenting monster of a song. Later tracks, such as Old, A Thousand Lies and A Nation On Fire incorporate more melodic elements into them, but use a similar formula. The songs flow perfectly, no irellevant stuff in the middle of them.
I have 3 complaints about this album however. The first is a few songs have unnecessarilly long, and quite frankly shit, filler intros. Examples of this are I'm Your God Now, which has a minute or so of repetative bass before the vocals even start, and Blood For Blood which takes 48 seconds of stupid screeches before the song starts properly. Another is that some of the solos aren't too good. While songs like the aforementioned I'm Your God Now and Death Church have nice solos that fit the pace and tune of the song, others, and in particular Davidian, are far too downtuned and sound like more of a drone. My last complaint is track 10, Real Eyes Realize Real Lies. Congratulations, you wrote a riff and played some sounds on top of it, now get rid of this filler crap.
All in all, I think this is a great album, and if you have an open mind and aren't expecting thrash metal, you may like it. Definately listen to a couple of songs before you buy it.
The Burning Red was actually the first album I purchased from these guys. Was that a bad introduction or what? Fortunately, I picked up Burn My Eyes about a year later, and I am blown away by the results.
This album is not very melodic, but the music is very aggressive. The production is also pretty good, thanks to Colin Richardson (Fear Factory). It's not exactly thrash, but it's close. Songs like "Blood For Blood", "Old" and "Davidian" have some pretty mind-numbing riffs, and the drumming is very fast. Man, I wish they would write more music like this, instead of the pieces of shit that were The Burning Red and Supercharger. Plus, the lyrics of "A Thousand Lies" (in the third verse), are both ahead of and behind their time, dealing with the atrocities committed by both Bush administrations - very inspired lyrics. "Old" has a very nice bass run in the beginning of it, only to be followed with heavy guitars from Rob Flynn and Logan Mader. "The Rage To Overcome" has an excellent guitar solo about midway through (yes, this album has guitar solos, kiddies!), as does the aforementioned "A Thousand Lies" and "Old". "Real Eyes, Realize, Real Lies" is full of sound bites taken from the era of the Rodney King beatings on top of some really good guitar playing - once again, very inspired stuff. "I'm Your God Now", "Death Church", and "A Nation On Fire" are of the slower variety, with the latter track ending on a fast note. Once again, tremendously good stuff!
All of these songs show Machine Head at their peak, and what a peak it is! Outstanding musicianship, very inspired songwriting, and good production are all reasons why you owe yourself to pick this one up... today!
Okay, let this be a lesson to all concerned. If you sound like this, then you are not thrash.
Really. Thrash is, maybe not always faster, but definitely more riff-oriented (if you want to hear midpaced thrash, check out Artillery's first demo).
Most of the stuff on this album is pretty much what can best be considered "half-thrash", in that it's halfway to thrash. The songs build up to a certain point, and there are riffs here and there, but the riffs are not overt enough, or choppy enough, to be fully thrash. What they really sound like are very watered-down speed metal riffs (same note, over and over again), slowed down a bit, and, most importantly reduced in the mix to accent the drums, thereby totally losing their edge. Throw in some Pantera-esque yelled vocals - generally midpaced and monotone, lacking distinction... oh and of course, every once in a while, stop the guitars entirely.
And, frankly, that style of music blows ass. You take a perfectly good genre of music, and poop on it. There really is no good reason why, other than "it hadn't been done before". New shit is still shit. That's just how the world works. It's music like this that is the precursor to fucking mallcore. Look what you've done, you goddamn imbeciles. You took thrash and speed metal and turned it into this swill. Stupid squeal guitar, awful clean vocals, and other derivatives of modern filth that are pretty much a rebellion against common sense.
The highlights... well, the album actually starts off pretty decent. Davidian is a very good song. Even Old has its moments, and starts off quite promising. However, when it gets to that horrendous chorus, with its stomach-ache vocals, the album is unforgiveably corrupted. Then there's stupid interludes like "Real Eyes", and did I mention the fact that Flynny should NEVER EVER try clean vocals?? "I'm Your God Now" is basically grunge.
So if you like your music boring, slowed down, and generally uninspired, this is the band for you. People that actually think this is the be-all, end-all of Robb Flynn are strongly encouraged to check out Eternal Nightmare and Oppressing the Masses.
I leave it up to you to figure out the name of the band.