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New Sound, New Image - 80%

flippyinvader, January 20th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1999, CD, Roadrunner Records

Seems as if the pieces were in place for this album to be hated; a band stamped in the rise of the groove metal scene, a "controversial" genre reaching it's mainstream exposure in 1999 and signs of Machine Head starting to drift towards the sound on their last album "The More Things Change...". So is this album worth the controversy? honestly.

Production wise this album still has the heavy distortion but this time with an extra "OOMPH!" courtesy of legendary Ross Robinson; "The Godfather of nu metal". His production style adds more emphasis on the down-end of a beat, which in return adds more punch to Dave McClain's kick drum, and it really makes this album extra headbang-worthy.

Then there's Robb Flynn, as metal vocalists go he's average but still impressive as he shreds his throat across the album's twelve tracks, but his clean vocals could use some work. They've definitely gotten better with future albums but here unfortunately with his mid to high range tone, can sound quite whiny, as "Five" and The Police cover "Message in a Bottle" prove to be, and can be quite a jog to get through.

Now the album hasn't completely succumbed to the "jumpdafuckup self-hatred" lyrics found in some nu-metal; tracks like "Devil With the King's Card", about the titular man himself convincing out protagonist to join the dark side and braggadocious tracks like "The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears" and "Desire to Fire". But definitely a highlight on the album is the song "Five", which is this album's "Daddy" (referencing the infamous Korn track") right down to the breaking down and sobbing at the end of the track; as this is about Robb when he was molested at the titular age, quite reasonable to see why he doesn't perform this live, and don't be surprised if you're left feeling uneasy after this listen.

Overall this album shows how big Machine Head's range can be, fully submerging themselves in the nu-metal sound they pull off surprisingly well while having only merely dipped their toes in it. This album didn't kill their career as many elitist metalheads just weren't ready for a change, plus seeing how it is their best selling should be a sign how much the public loved this nu-metal sound. Give it a listen if you ever come across it.