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I don't get this band and their alleged style of metal, or so I've been told by people who sing their praises. Somewhere between the demise of the 80s thrash scene and the hybridization that took place between many of its remnants and the onslaught of 90s grunge, something got lost in the translation and with maybe a few exceptions, everything the 90s version put forth just sounded like utter trite. I understand why a lot of people like this music, because it manages to be easy and yet convoluted at the same time, though it often comes with the unfortunate tendency of being more heavy than metal. Robb Flynn's fancies are what drive this more than anything else, and his latest fancy of incorporating the popular hybrid of metalcore and melodeath ala Killswitch Engage as heard on "The Blackening" endures to this day, though with some noticeable tweaking.
"Locust", the first offering of a soon to be everywhere follow up to their alleged return to metal solidarity circa 2007, is something of a different beast from what I remember 4 years prior. The simplistic to the point of comical melodic sensibilities that plague a number of mid 2000s metalcore releases is heavily present here, along with some token groove riffs that are somewhat reminiscent of "Davidian" and "Imperium" (Flynn's two crowning groove achievements after leaving Vio-Lence), but absent is a lot of the other nonsense that usually tends to drag this band down. There's one recurring clean guitar theme that gets a bit repetitive, but the goofy whispered narrations are gone, and a mercifully short clean vocal section that is only slightly annoying chimes in somewhere after the 2nd chorus. For the most part, Flynn is channeling the typical hardcore meets grooving tough guy shout Anselmo style, par for the course and thankfully free of the even less pleasant additives.
Much can't be said about the general flow of this song except for that it cooks a little, coasts a bit, and develops in a very slow and formulaic manner. For a song flirting with 8 minute territory, this thing definitely doesn't spend a lot of time meandering around and focuses pretty heavily on repetition, not to mention a pretty drawn out guitar solo. The high point and really the only exceptional part of this culminates in just under 2 minutes of melodic lead interchanges that are fairly technical, though definitely nowhere near the flash of Flynn's and Demmel's duels on "Eternal Nightmare". Apart from this, the song has about the same level of excitement as your current Evergrey song, and excluding the vocals, that's actually what this comes dangerously close to sounding like.
If Machine Head's soon to be released album tends to resemble this song, it will probably be the best thing to come out bearing their name, but it's still pretty well removed from anything I can get excited about. What this has in general catchiness it tends to lack in overall energy, though it is very possible that this is one of a minority of mid-paced songs on something that might be an improved version of the band's rediscovered semi-thrash sound. The fans will love it, I still won't be able to get it, and all will be right with the world again. Then again, I'll wager that "Unto The Locust" will be better than Metallica's soon to be released collaboration "Lulu"; just a little hunch on my part.