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A classic of 90's metal - 91%

KittenDecapitator, April 13th, 2013

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.