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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.