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Forward-thinking, aggressive, emotional - 81%

gasmask_colostomy, August 19th, 2015

Have you ever noticed how all Machine Head albums are stereotypes? Everyone knows what they think of each before they even listen to it: it seems pointless even to consider what the band have done on individual songs, because some stylistic shift or choice of bandmembers has occurred since the previous release. This means that 'Through the Ashes of Empires' is the "comeback" album, as in the album that changed the style back to the groove/heavy/thrash weight of the first two MH full-lengths. Now, for pure quality, I don't think MH have ever quite topped their debut (not if we're talking about consistent quality anyway), though they have had parts of albums or specific songs that rise above that level, especially on 'The Blackening'. This "comeback" album doesn't come awfully close to 'Burn My Eyes', but it does strive to be more ambitious and creative, which would reach its ultimate conclusion on 'The Blackening', with its longer songs and detailed themes. Thus, we end up with a nice effort that won't be to everyone's taste.

The best thing about this album from the point of view of a MH fan, or any fan of modern metal for that matter, is that the band didn't dick about when it came to riffs, they brought plenty of solos back in, and they didn't merely make a regressionist album, but took their formula forwards a good few years. For an album that was released during the first throes of metalcore and the NWOAHM, this packs a modern punch - just listen to the breakdown in 'Imperium' for evidence that this was more groundbreaking than retreading ground. However, this certainly doesn't choose to sit alongside Killswitch Engage or Shadows Fall. The guitars, while still downtuned, have a much heavier tone than 'Supercharger' and sound grittily alive and earthy; the bass rumbles and chokes just as brutally, all of which muffles the drums just a little, even though the performance is pretty accurate and skilfull. Some of those riffs now hit very hard and fast, with added complexity in some parts. The best songs for this element are probably 'Imperium', 'Vim', and 'All Falls Down', which are mostly quick, though also sound massive. 'Bite the Bullet' also has some monster riffs, though the technique of slowing down for the vocal lines makes it a little difficult to adapt to the constant changes, even if the heavy parts hit even harder as a result.

The disappointing thing when listening to 'Through the Ashes of Empires' is that the quality is inconsistent. If the band can come up with a song like 'Imperium' - which has generally been judged the standout on this album and one of the band's best - surely they could have spent a little more time on 'Elegy' or 'Left Unfinished', which just sort of happen and then end, without any particular end result. I'm not being mean, but 'Elegy' is the kind of song that a band might write in their first few rehearsals and either discard or significantly alter it later, taking the worthwhile parts and moving on with them. One groove riff and a forgettable chorus won't cut it, fellas. 'Left Unfinished' has had more thought and time, although this one ends up sounding ugly, with jarring riffs and a vocal harmony that matches horribly (i.e. does not match). Maybe it's supposed to sound like that because of the difficult subject matter, but I still don't like it and I don't imagine many others will either.

Something that the band did gain from their flirtation with nu metal was the ability to alter their tempo more and give Robb Flynn some time to sing clean. He's not an amazing singer, but he has a lot of variation in a song like 'Days Turn Blue to Grey', which can be tender one moment, furious the next, and strangely contemplative a moment later. His harsh vocals are still rather ragged and unfinished, though I can imagine that this aspect appeals for some people who can hear emotion or struggle in his voice: it doesn't do it for me, so the variety is welcome, as well as the moments when the band move at speed beneath him, which make his rough voice better. Again, I’m left to wonder - should Machine Head employ a singer? But whatever. Sometimes the effort that he puts in sounds majestic, such as on the closing ‘Descend the Shades of Night’, when his passion rises above his drawbacks and crafts a truly memorable and inspiring chorus. He writes surprisingly touching and eloquent lyrics too, which also deserve a better outlet.

‘Through the Ashes of Empires’ remains an important MH album because of the way it stuck the band right into the midst of the contemporary development of the genre. This is purer than metalcore in a lot of ways and updates a lot of the classic features to create something that is truly significant to the 21st century. I’d put Machine Head ahead of popular bands like Killswitch Engage and Slipknot, who - despite being popular - haven’t managed to unite the tribes so much as these guys. A good album, all told.

I think they've learned their lesson. - 89%

Chratheostic17, February 6th, 2015

So this record was pretty much continuing where they left off from their second album, "The More Things Change..." except with a far less raw production. One of the only minor differences being certain changes in the vocal department. With this release, Rob Flynn chose to adapt to, dare I say a more metalcore inspired approach as the style was rapidly ascending to the mainstream, although he did this whilst still managing to combine it with his own original style.

This was also the band's first album with the presence of former Vio-Lence guitarist, Phil Demmel who you'd thought would have been responsible for the band's surge into melodic metal territory that wouldn't have been nearly as evident on any release before. This time around, the band also seemed far more technically advanced compared to other albums, which might not be much of an achievement considering the two albums before had been attempts to break into nu metal-infested mainstream waters. The solos were much longer and there were even cases of dual guitar solos which would have been a big ask for the band for when they first started out.

My only real complaint about this album which I can't simply bring myself to overlook would have to be the lyrics. The nu metal-styled ramblings which conspired with the predictable instrumentals of "The Burning Red" and "Supercharger" are the only elements that survived the stylistic shift. Unfortunately Rob Flynn's influence fell victim to Phil Anselmo's laughable tough guy demeanour that chose to degrade metal within 1992 that is mysteriously adored by many modern metal acts to this day. An example of this would be from "Seasons Wither":

"I'm gonna see you bleeding
face down in the dirt,
I'm gonna give you back what
you've taken with hurt, you coward,
I'm gonna spit right into your face,
in grace you'll be now more."

Apart from this piss poor lack of creativity vocal wise, I wouldn't see how any fans of the first two albums, who felt betrayed by what was the follow wouldn't be able to forgive the band for this album. A re-emergence of the controversial groove-infested riffs that are so frowned upon by thrash loyalists, but at the same time managed to build such a solid following, are noticeable right from the start to finish.

You Actually Got Your Heads Out Of Your Asses - 82%

psychoticnicholai, August 4th, 2013

Well, they actually managed to recover from the utter wastes of time and brain cells that were The Burning Red and Supercharger. Machine Head have decided to show us that they still have a lot of creativity left in them by reverting back to their early/mid 90's sound and making some important changes to their line-up. The firing of nu-metaller Ahrue Luster did a lot to reduce the presence of nu-metallish and modern rock elements that were sterilizing and emasculating Machine Head's sound. Robb Flynn's ex-bandmate and ex-Vio-Lence member Phil Demmel's addition to the band did a lot to reinsert the thrash undertones of Burn My Eyes and The More Things Change... and help Through The Ashes Of Empires to actually have a credible sound to it. Having ditched the idea of doing nu-metal all together has the band actually sounding like themselves again.

Machine Head apparently added more complexity in the songwriting and structures and put somewhat more emphasis on riffage this time around. The soaring, charging, riff-fest "Imperium" which is definitely the highlight of the album is certainly enough to shut up naysayers and win new fans over. Other songs such as "Seasons Wither," "All Falls Down," "Wipe The Tears," and "Descend The Shades Of Night" have similar epic feels to them; well structured, intelligent songwriting; and crushing groove riffs interlaced with melodies that help to further create the desolate, destructive landscape Machine Head wants you to imagine. These songs are shining examples of the best this album has to offer.

The other songs don't fare so well unfortunately and are mostly a mixed bag. "Elegy" and "Days Turn From Blue To Gray" are okay, the former being a nice, punchy, headbanger, and the other being an emotional semi-ballad. Some songs would be great if they didn't have a few leftover nu-metal-isms. "Bite The Bullet's" softer parts are marred by Korn-ish vocals that spoil the mood. "Left Unfinished" deals with Robb basically giving a giant "fuck you" to his birth parents. This concept and it's lyrical focus derails the song's solid riffs and leaves it feeling shallow and immature. Many of the rest of the songs are flat chug-fests that raise no eyebrows and deserve no congratulation and are perfectly skip-worthy.

Through The Ashes Of Empires, while certainly a huge improvement over the joke-ass albums The Burning Red and Supercharger, is not a truly special album and it has several lackluster songs that about equal the number of great songs. The production and tuning are far better and have crushing density to leave you headbanging wildly throughout the better songs on here and cheering them on. Even so, this album doesn't measure up to their 90's groove material or The Blackening and Unto The Locust due to the fact that only a few songs were given most of the attention and they sort of winged it on the rest and only wanted to shake the stained legacy of their two earlier mulligan albums. In this haste they churned out an album that could only be described as "good." Nothing special, specific, or definitive; Just good. Recommended to fans of the band or just their late term material.

From the ashes of this Machine - 58%

NWOAHM666, March 5th, 2012

It seems that the Machine found its Head again, two years after that 2001 disaster. Unlike what it may feel, Machine Head did not simply return to their old-school style. Instead, they recreated it with new classic thrash influences, which is rather expected, given that this record was made with Phil Demmel (ex-Vio-lence) on the lead guitar. Please note that this means that Machine became the closest thing possible to a modern groovy version of Bay Area thrash: the guitarists from Vio-lence and the drummer who used to be from Sacred Reich. There's more to this album than just that, though.

After the mess made in Supercharger, it'd be expectable for some no-nonsense music and here we have it. It is arguably the best album they've made since 1997. They have totally quit the old 13-year-old nü-metal attitude. There are no more soap opera songs here. This, it should be said, is an all-out metal record that has been crafted for war. Right at the start of the album, the song "Imperium" reveals just that - militaresque drumming, aggressive and angry vocals, and lots of riffs. Machine have found their Head, and please note that rebirth is not all that easy for a band, especially when done this way.

As I said before, this album has the guitarists from Vio-lence (both of them, in fact). That is reflected in the album's riffing; we're back to a style that combines pre-1999 Machine elements with more classic sounds that can be found on Vio-lence's discography. It looks a bit like they went back to the origin in order to fix the future. However, something of a chugging groove remains, such as in "In the Presence of My Enemies". Also featured here is the use of melody, namely in the track "Elegy", with skill and precision.

The drumming is probably the best that has been made by Dave McClain 'til then, and I'm counting not only The More Things Change..., but also his material with Sacred Reich with that. Technical and aggressive with a smarter use of blastbeats than in Machine Head's sophomore record. It's probably one of the highest spots of the album.

Robb Flynn's vocal performance here largely exceeds anything made by him after 1997 and may even stand close to their first two albums. His combination of aggressive yelling and melodic singing resembles something out of the more memorable side of The Burning Red tinged with their early material. Sure, it still sounds much à la Jonathan Davis in songs like "Wipe the Tears" (I mean, just look at the title), but Flynn manages to showcase skill, and he song "Elegy" is a testament of that. The sole problem is that, hum, the lyrical content has only SLIGHTLY improved. It seems that we can't really have everything.

I will elect "Elegy" and "Imperium" as my favourite songs off this album and give it a rating in the mid-80s because, while not being their best album by any means, it is way better than the two albums that preceded it (especially the 2001 mess-up that preceded it). It may not be enough to maintain Machine Head as a credible band (they managed to fix that, though), but it deserves to be called a comeback album. As I said before, this Machine just found its Head.

A flawed credibility stunt - 49%

JamesIII, February 16th, 2010

For as long as they've been around, Machine Head have usually sought to enter into the current "all the rage" trend in heavy metal. While this turns several people off, also helping to fuel the legions of detractors determined to bash anything this band puts out, they often manage to put an interesting take on the music they're creating. As is always worth mentioning concerning my love/hate relationship with this band, I do not care who they are or who they were, I am more concerned with the musical product delivered.

With that being said, I know for a fact that "Through the Ashes of Empires" was a stunt to regain the band's credibility. After the horribly sub-par misadventures in mallcore, it would seem necessary the band return to their "roots" so to speak, though I don't see this album mimicing what good elements "Burn My Eyes" had on display. In fact, "Through the Ashes of Empires" seems to have more in common in terms of quality music with "The More Things Change..." though I'd argue this album is more focused in terms of songwriting but still trapped in mediocrity.

"Imperium" as it has been noted, is probably the best song here. It runs with some decent ideas for most of its duration and gives the listener false hope that this might actually lead to an enjoyable experience. The same thing is offered in "Left Unfinished," though that song portrays a weaker vocal job from Rob Flynn, who has made an inexcusable lack of effort on his part all too obvious for the majority of his performance. This is seen very well in "Bite the Bullet," a catchy number that shows stubborn determination to keep the mallcore stop-go riffing in place. Its actually a quite decent tune, besides the fact its repeated too much and Flynn goes bouncing around with the usual mallcore yells.

There is a hint of ambition within this album, something Machine Head haven't really possessed since 1994. This is seen in "Vim," which offers some decent lead work courtesy of Phil Demmel, whose replacing of Ahrue Luster (one of the reasons "The Burning Red" ever came into being) had me tickled pink. Unfortunately, Demmel doesn't much at all, really and that part left me disappointed. Sure he pops up for some decent work here and there, but his inclusion on this album is sorely lacking and not even what he contributes save this listen from becoming a listen that causes the listener to say "meh" instead of saying "wow."

I see the overall problem with this album is its Machine Head's way to establishing the credibility they had lost over the previous five years. I all too often hear "Through the Ashes of Empires" trying to impress the listener with some ambitious ideas and more interesting songwriting, but ultimately falling flat in the process. "Burn My Eyes" was able to capture that ambitious spirit and create something rather decent. Hell, even "The More Things Change..." managed to be superior to this album, largely because despite all the meandering of that album it did not masquerade as anything but a mediocre groove metal album. "Through the Ashes of Empires" is basically just that, with more speed elements thrown in and still clings to some mallcore territory, yet it seems to attempt to trick the listener into believing its more.

In the end, this album is pretty much forgettable since everything here has already been done either on "The More Things Change" or "The Blackening," only done better. If you already own those albums, you might as well forget about this one. It is better than the two that preceeded it, but as the tired saying goes this isn't saying much. I can see Machine Head diehards eating this up, but being a fan myself I couldn't really stand any more than about four listens, and those were in hopes the experience would improve with repeated listens. I can state for the record that this album's standing has not improved with me over time and I suggest anyone but the Machine Head loyalist skip it and seek out their better work.

Confession of a heavy metal elitist. - 19%

hells_unicorn, October 14th, 2008
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Roadrunner Records

Somewhere along the way it became elitist to simply refer to a lousy album by its proper name instead of masking righteous indignation with dishonest euphemisms and careful word choice. Whether it be nothing more than a weak defense of otherwise indefensible music or a statement in favor of taking an egalitarian approach to treating all music with the same respect when conversing on the topic, it’s a common comeback amongst Machine Head fans when they see fans of pre-1992 metal not dancing to the beat of the almighty groove. But when it comes to said band and particularly their alleged return to form “Through The Ashes Of Empires”, if calling this collection of mostly sonic flatulence bad makes me an elitist, then may my unapologetic arrogance be a guide for those wishing to avoid wasting money on something that is subpar even by early Machine Head album standards.

There are some traces of “Burn My Eyes” to be found on here, although very little of it resembles the positive aspects of that album. Mostly this reaches back to the band’s second album “The More Things Change”, although with a little bit more speed at times and an even poorer vocal job out of Flynn. There is plenty of really annoying high end riff fragments that are either repeated far too much or overloaded with effects, uneven lower end groove riffs that often clash with the boring straight rock drum beats, and a huge glaring spotlight right on the vocal tracks that flood the arrangement like a monsoon of nu-metal gayness. The vocals are largely what kill this thing, as even on otherwise decent half-speed metal songs like “Left Unfinished” Flynn basically kisses the microphone when he inhales.

Every now and then the band will get a relatively decent idea and carry it for about maybe half of the song’s duration at best, but usually scattered throughout the listen. The widely hailed opening track “Imperium” has a couple of fairly decent riffs that filter in and out, particularly that all out thrash riff that jumps in at around the 4:40 mark. It’s a little more power/thrash and melodic than what you got with Vio-Lence’s first two albums, but it definitely leaves the groove field completely for greener pastures. If they had streamlined the overlong intro a little and cut out some of those unnecessary, flanger saturated, redundant lead drones this would be an all out solid track. The same story basically applies to “Left Unfinished”, which has a pretty solid start up riff that falls into this stupid verse breakdown with too much vocal presence and a bunch of overdone guitar effects in the background. I guess there’s just some unwritten law in the book of Machine Head that prevents these guys from just rocking out all the time and resorting to these stupid half-ballad sections and half-time breakdowns.

Although this is Phil Demmel’s first studio appearance with the band, not counting their 2003 live album “Hellalive”, you wouldn’t know it by how little lead activity is going on here and how utterly half assed most of the riffs and songwriting is. There is one worthwhile guitar solo on here stuck in the midst of a really redundant quiet interlude on “In The Presence Of My Enemies”, which is otherwise just an overlong Pantera homage with about twice as many feedback passages. Other than that and a fairly decent lead interchange on “Vim”, which is another half-decent speed metal song with just a few too many groove breakdowns interrupting the flow, there’s hardly anything on here that Flynn wasn’t already doing on his own since 1997 in the riff and lead department.

The rest of this album just reeks of blandness and meandering, not to mention a few occasional reversions back to the mallcore nonsense heard on “Supercharger” and its even gayer predecessor. “Bite The Bullet” is loaded with terrible excuses for shouts that are dangerously close to Fred Durst territory; while these really annoying quiet sections just halt whatever flow the song has at random intervals. “Elegy” is definitely stuck in Slipknot land, spending most of its time sitting on an extremely redundant 2 chord groove that occasionally gives way to a nearly as dull sounding Pantera riff or a boring quiet section with Flynn just softly singing nonsense that somehow manages to rhyme, actual lyrical content be damned. If there is one thing that these guys really do well, it’s jamming a lot of different ways to sound non-metal into a 4 to 5 minute time span, while throwing a lot of their good ideas into longer songs that still have plenty of lazy ideas mixed in.

The only respects in which this album really differs from the last 3 before is that there is a little more speed and half-thrash elements at work and Robb Flynn has given up on his career as a rapper rolling with the pale skinned, middle class homies. If you look at the good elements of this by themselves, there is a little bit of a move towards the half-hearted groove/thrash “The Blackening”, which saw some isolated aspects of Flynn and Demmel’s thrash roots return. But the vast majority of this is either stuck in grunge or nu-metal territory. It’s not worth spending money on unless you worship this band and already have their first and their latest album. It might make me a bullshitting elitist, but I expect more in a metal album than this, regardless of it being better than their mallcore albums.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on October 14, 2008.

New lyrical content....please - 55%

Souther_Metal_Junky, November 1st, 2007

This is my first Machine Head album so i don't have any comparison to their previous albums, though I have heard the singles off of 3 of the albums. This album was supposed to be Machine Head's return to their groove/thrash roots, however, their is quite a bit of nu-metal and rapcore elements that have been picked up along the way that can be heard in the album.

The album starts with the critically acclaimed "Imperium." Though this song along with "Bite the Bullet" and "Seasons Wither" are the least mediocre on the album, it is still plagued by the same song formula as the utter shit on the album. The problem is too many fucking clean singing breakdowns. Imperium comes along nicely, sounds innovative, and even exciting then the unholy fucking Flynn begins the semi-metalcore, clean singing bullshit. It is however a listenable track, and I must admit though the chorus is a bit dumb, it is catchy.

There are many things on this album that I find annoying such as: nearly all songs having upwards of 5+ different sections, clean singing breakdowns that really kill the intensity, scattered nu-metal riffs, the monotony of the lyrics (sounds like one big crying session), vocals (Flynn's voice is tolerable for a few songs in a row, but 53 minutes of his pseudo-death metal/gargling is barely standable), and plain bad experimentation.

Aside from the three tracks mentioned above a few other positives of the album are a few good solos, and McClain's drumming. Whenever i zone out of the distorted nu-metal/slow groove riffs, McClain's snare slapping and bass thumping brings me right back to the fore. In my opinion he really saves the album from utter chaos.

One last complaint and then I'll quit bitching. The last song on the album "Descend the Shades of Night" deserves it's own little bitch section. FUCK i literally wanted to slam my forehead onto the steering wheel as i listened to this bland, droning, musical fart of a song. It was so goddamn long and boring that I could zone out of it and come back to conscienceness and it still play on and on and on.

Sitting in the empty black
The last slivers of dusk have passed
Accept the dawn to ease the fear
One day I will not be here
Death she comes and with her thread
Upon me ties a mask for dead
Its tears of blood begin to seep
And bleed the sky

7:45 of that bullshit. And oh oh oh does ole Robby love to rhyme.

Anyway I used to like this album and actually held it in decent regard. I'd be like, "hey, I think I'll listen to Through Ashes of Empires, listen to track 1 and 2, maybe another skip to 8 then eject, without thinking. Now after listening to the whole thing through I don't even wanna make the effort anymore.

55 is due solely to the drumming, few solos, and 3 songs.

Post Thrash (Almost) - 85%

darkreif, March 20th, 2007

Machine Head have been resurrected, despite some of the “mallcore” claims of this album. After the massively disappointing and rather unforgivable mistake that was Supercharger I had more than given up hope for the band. Machine Head was dead to me. The band that I so loved had quietly curled up and died along with nu metal. I will not deny this. Machine Head had died in the time following Supercharger – only to be reborn in a new form. Through the Ashes of Empires (which I believe to be a clever title referencing their nu metal stint) is a new form of Machine Head.

Through the Ashes of Empires has Machine Head returning to their hearts. The labels had given up on them, the fans had given up on them, and so the only people that Machine Head had to write this album for, were them. This has given the band and the music a new found ferocity that listeners haven’t heard in years.

Most of the album was written as a three piece with Rob, Adam, and Dave. These songs still have some of the groove oriented sound that Machine Head have come to embrace but now it has been surrounded by fast paced music. The inclusion of Phil Demmel (playing with Rob Flynn previously in Vio-Lence) not only added another layer to the music but brought about somewhat of a thrash tendency in the band – this will be approached later.

The guitar work is still very heavy on the rhythm parts but with more complex riffing and a focus on musicianship that that band had lost. The leads (oh yeah – these are back) are tight and the semi-solo sections (most of the solos aren’t a “true” solo but more likened to bridge territory) are well placed and well performed. The most shocking aspect of the guitar work is the new found emotion in a lot of the work. “Imperium,” one of the most impressive songs the band as EVER written, and the guitar work on that song is unmatched.

The bass and drum work have both taken a back seat to the guitar work (being as their nu metal sound earlier required both of them to come forward quite a bit) but both have become more intense and complex. They pick up the slack of the rhythm while the guitars do their melodic thing.

Rob Flynn is back with a vengeance. The half-assed rapping is gone (although the song “Wipe the Tears” has some spoken work that some people might consider rap-ish) and replacing it is his post thrash back and even some of the singing that he has picked up along the way. “Descend the Shades of Night” has some of his best vocal work as a singer and really shows the melody that the band has put together.

The addition of Phil Demmel is amazing new layer to Machine Head. His style of thrash til death can be felt in the few songs he helped write. “Seasons Wither” in particular is pretty thrash injected and Phil’s presence is a catalyst to the rest of the band to really kick the music in the ass.

Rob’s lyrics are as personal as every with songs about being strong in one’s convictions and even a seething song about his real parents (“Fuck you, you cocksucker – fuck you, you whore” is particularly an angry phrase “Left Unfinished”). The album is full of empowerment anthems and emotional confessions that makes you headbang and think about societal issues.

The emotion is pure and raw on Through the Ashes of Empires – the band has finally come home. The intensity is back along with heartfelt music that had been sacrificed to the almighty dollar. Machine Head are trying to regain their integrity and just by hearing the song “Imperium” my loyalty to the band has returned and even become greater because of this album. Machine Head are back – and they have a bone to pick with the world.

Songs to check out: Imperium, Seasons Wither, Descend the Shades of Night.

Let's Cut the Elitist Bullshit For a Minute - 98%

Deadwired, June 28th, 2006

"Machine Head? I liked the band better when they were Vio-Lence."
"Rob Flynn was better in Forbidden."
"They only have one good album."
"That shit's Nu-Metal."
"He raps."

Shut the fuck up. Seriously.

Machine Head are, and always will be, a unit that caters to Robert Flynn's current likes and dislikes. The whole you are what you eat philosophy, except musicians consume music. It's the same thing with Machine Head. I mean, am I the only one that doesn't see why "Imperium" had a tremolo section, taking into consideration what the current music trend was? Metalcore. Killswitch Engage. Tremolo fucking riffing.

I've been a Machine Head fan since I was first introduced to harder Metal by way of Darkane, and I still have a lot of fondness for the band. Just like every other Metalhead, I did not like "The Burning Red" or some of "Supercharger," though that album is highly underrated and overly-slagged. However, I was as astonished and rewarded as any Metal fanatic would've been to hear this album, Machine Head returning to a Thrashier sound at their core, whilst maintaining some experimental aspects. The point is that they experiment. Yeah, they tried integrated Nu into their Groove sound, because it was only the next logical step. Instead, Machine Head induct a new ethic of experimenting with some foreign sounds.

And I do mean foreign. There's a lot of a Swedish and Finnish influence on this album; just check out the tremolo passage in "Imperium" that made every Machine Head fanatic drop a jaw. Or, the US bonus track(Which we fucking deserved. Fuck you very much, Roadrunner), "Seasons Wither." There's also some experimentation with more Sludgey music, as in the track "Elegy." The point here is that the music on this album isn't a "Return to their core," it's Machine Head scoring a hit with their experimentation rather than a miss. They've found their niche, and that's what we've pretty much all been waiting on. What's going on with this album is more than just Groove, it's a band tampering with their sound as much as possible and producing excellent results by successfully compounding influences. Songs like "Imperium" and "In the Presence of My Enemies" are destined to be two songs Machine Head will break out live several times, and fans'll sing to by heart, while songs like "Vim" and "Descend the Shades of Night" continue to reveal aspects of Machine Head that are more than just standard Post-Thrash or Groove.

If you don't like this album, you're a shitty elitist. Honestly. There's too much that's going on underneath this album to dismiss it as petty Nu-Metal bullshit, and if that's what you see, I suggest picking up a book or a guitar.

Imperium yay, the rest nay... - 58%

peer, June 17th, 2005

This album was a big hype in late 2003. Many reviews were praising, proclaiming how Machine Head had gone back to their roots. It was supposed to be a second Burn your Eyes. Machine Head had been Nu-Metal for quite a while before the release of this album. And then Imperium blessed my ears. A great song. Unlike other Machine Head songs, this was pure metal. Groovy riffs, fast metal drumming. Simply put, an awesome track.

But Alas, the rest of the album, the so hailed come back, does not compare to the opening track. Plenty of promising tracks. Bite the bullet and others contain some great riffs, and Vim has a sweet solo that showcases a lot of skill, but the songs don't seem to go anywhere. Most of them are not memorable at all. The songwriting just isn't what it should be. McClain's drumming is great, Flynn however tries too much to sound angry and his vocals just don't flow with the music and this effects to the elimination of any chance of a good tune. Many of the nu-metal elements of earlier times pop up as well, and they just don't mix the groove metal.

The conclusion is that Machine Head has some skilled musicians and they have the potential to make a good album, but this is disappointing. Still three stars for this one, because of Imperium and because of the improvement they have made and hopefully they'll be a full-fledged metal band soon, once again.

And the problem with this is.........? - 90%

Nailbomb, December 1st, 2004

I've heard mixed reviews of this album and you either love it or you hate it. I personally love it. This is not "same shit, different year", as it sounds absolutely nothing like any of Machine Head's other releases.

Nearly everyone knows how after Burn My Eyes Machine Head went in a mallcore direction, but hell, they've made up for it here. Sure, it's not Thrash, but does that make it bad? Hell no.

This is just damn groovy as hell and even if I tried to hate it I couldn't. Sure, there are bands that do Groove badly, like Pantera for example, but that doesn't make every other Groove band bad. This is Groove, not mallcore and I'd laugh as hard at anyone who said that as I would to the people who tell me Reign In Blood is the best Slayer album.

This isn't another Burn My Eyes. It's closer to it than their other releases, but if you put any Through The Ashes Of Empire track on Burn My Eyes it would stick out like a sore thumb. Rob Flynn's vocals are the same as on their past three albums and the production has a very modern sound, yet it has the Groove of Burn My Eyes.

Machine Head have finally gone back to making the music how they want to, not how Roadrunner Records feel they should to sell records in the masses.

Simply put, if you liked Burn My Eyes, then you should like this. If you can't stand Groove, then don't bother.

Well... Imperium is good... - 15%

Madman, July 14th, 2004

Machine Head have a terrible track record. One decent album, one terribly below average album, and 2 pieces of worthless dog crap. Where does this new-ish one sit? Well, I'll put it just above worthless dog crap.

Album starts off with Imperium, the only outright good song. It's rather long but that's because it builds up and has a few different sections to it. The build up sounds cool, the marching snare sound has been done before many, many times though. Come to think of it, that's what I'd say about this album, done before and many, many times at that. Back to the song. After building up we hit a pretty decent groove riff with some mindless shouting about rebellion etc. There are some clean vocals, not like the last couple Machine Head albums though... It's not whiney and it's not rapping, they're just kind of melodic clean vocals, not all that well done but I guess they do add some variation. Eventually there's a part that reminds me a whole hell of a lot of Davidian, then into a gothenburg "thrash" style fast part. The song is actually pretty sweet and has some good changes. Too bad the rest of the album is just really bad.

As for the rest of the album, Left Unfinished is interesting probably because it's really the only uptempo song on the album. The chorus isn't sung particularly well but it's a good melody. Every other song on here is pretty much mid-paced or slow and just drags on and on and on and on. Then it happens, you slowly close your eyes only for them to snap open what seems like seconds later, to find out it's been about a half hour later and the album is over.

Worth owning? No.

Same shit, different year - 9%

UltraBoris, November 30th, 2003

To those saying this is a return to the old times - perhaps you are right. However, it is not a return to the only good thing that band ever did, namely Davidian. Listen to Davidian and see how it just fucking works on some levels. Sure, it's groove as fuck, but it's got decent riffs and it MOVES ALONG in a straightforward fashion, each step anticipating the next correctly. In short, it does not drag.

Now, this entire album fucking drags, and drags hard. It goes around in circles, it goes nowhere, and pretty much is the equivalent of fingernails on chalkboard. Slow, irritating, and you just want it to fucking stop.

There's pretty much one decent song on here, and even it's not that great... that is the opener, Imperium. It seems like "Davidian, except with stupid interludes thrown in". Yes indeed, you have some melodic bullshit parts, thrown in for no reason. Plus you have the 'classic' Machine Head squeal guitars, which come in for no reason to distract things. Too much fucking on the tremolo bar, not enough music.

Oh yeah, then you have the vocals. Robb Flynn attempts a Mike Patton, going through every possible way to suck. You hear the fuckhead BREATHE for crying out loud. Isn't that taught in Singing 101? Breathe away from the microphone. The vocals are just far the fuck too loud in the mix, and we occasionally have the cringe-worthy moment where it's JUST VOCALS. Yeah, no mallcore to be found anywhere? Riiiight.

For example, All Falls Down could've been on the last MH album. It's complete shit. You get the stupid non-distorted guitar bullshit with loud vocals over them, and then you have the pre-chorus which has an actual riff, and then you have the chorus, which drags on with the long vocal notes 'driving' the passage, but really going nowhere.

As I said, that's the theme of the album. Going nowhere. Total modern-rock bullshit with the occasional mallcore section. Avoid if you have any sensibility.