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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.