Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Machine Head - Bloodstone & Diamonds (2014)

Without over exaggerating, I think that the Oakland quartet Machine Head has evolved into the strongest thrash band that was formed after the 80's. They have always been a great band with a high low point, but it was not until the 2003 release "Through The Ashes of Empires" that the band really excelled and became one of the leading bands in the new way of American heavy metal. Their two latest albums, "The Blackening" from 2007 and "Unto The Locust" from 2011, are some of my all time favourite records from the 21st century, so I definitely had some expectations for the band's 8th studio release.

The album is called "Bloodstone & Diamonds" and is the first album the band has not released on Roadrunner Records, instead it is the German giants Nuclear Blast that has enlisted the band, adding another big name to their already massive roster. And why shouldn't they? Machine Head is one of the bigger thrash bands out there today, and they really show it once again in their new album. "Bloodstone & Diamonds" is another great effort of thrash metal with a lot of long songs, almost making the music progressive. It is a natural follow up to "Unto The Locust", but this album has a lot more variation to it, a ingredient that I missed on their last effort. The long, groovy thrash songs are mixed up with a couple of slower and darker songs, like the excellent "Sail Into The Black", making the album more versatile.

The album also have some resemblance to "The Blackening". For example, the riff structure in "Killers & Kings" is close to similar to that in "Beautiful Mourning", which just makes it feel like a lazy copy. None the less, "Killers & Kings" is still a fine song if you just bypass the facts. But the heaviest song on "Bloodstone & Diamonds" is "Night of Long Knives" whom do have a slightly weird groove, but a flawless chorus and a sweet solo. Another favourite is the fast paced, almost punk like "Game Over" that takes the award for being the most adrenaline filled track in the album, even if it have a slower, more melodic part, just like any other song in this album.

And it is those melodic parts that ties the album together. Rob Flynn and his men shows a great deal of maturity in their song writing process, and it feels good that the band is continuing on evolving their sound and themselves. Flynn still sings with a lot of density, but he is showing what he can do with a larger range for his vocals, which is great. And a thing like putting in violins in their music would probably not have come into the band's minds 10 years ago, but is here shown in the track "Now We Die" and it helps to improve the intro and chorus.

I do not think that "Bloodstone & Diamonds" is a new future classic made by the band, but it does its job in securing the band's status. This album do miss that perfect blow that just leaves you breathless, but it does contain 11 good, consistent songs (not including the unnecessary track "Imaginal Cells") that together creates a solid and strong album. A good competitor for best thrash album of the year.

Songs worthy of recognition: Night of Long Knives, Now We Die, Sail Into The Black

Rating: 8,5/10 Killers & Kings

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