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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.