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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.