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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.