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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.