"Bloodstone & Diamonds"?
Yes, yes they would, and it is not like they took a step back, it seems like EVERYONE agrees on that they fell off a cliff. How is that, and why so? Well, let us start by looking at the biggest problem of "Catharsis", the length of the record. It contains 15 tracks all leading up to a run time of 74 minutes. Why is this album so long? It is not a concept record, this is certainly not a progressive metal album, and Machine Head has definitely not written 15 killer tracks. It overstays its welcome by a hell of a lot, making the torment unbearable.
Yes, I said torment, because "Catharsis" is incredibly hard to enjoy, and it is not only because of the run time. Flynn was not kidding with his warnings, the groovy thrash onslaught that Machine Head is known for in recent years is here, but it is literally buried by all this other shit. Close to every song in this record has some sort of golden nugget within them that is genuinely good or interesting, but they also have something annoying that overshadows the good, either a dumb clap intro, a lame chorus, or some shitty lyrics. This makes this whole experience incredibly frustrating, because the band cannot complete a single track.
Let me prove this by explaining two of my favourite tracks of this record. First we have "Volatile", the opening track. It is a fantastic track, it has power, drive, and it makes my head go banging all of its 4 and a half minutes. However, this is a Slipknot song, so it comes off a big old ripoff that I cannot convince myself that it is Machine Head I am listening to. Then we have "Kaleidoscope", that opens with the corniest intro ever, with clapping and Flynn shouting "Get your metal fingers in the air", face palming is imminent here. But if you can muster up the courage to get past it, you get rewarded with a pretty nice track actually, with some classic Machine Head groove tricks and a weird, but satisfying, chorus.
What just feels weird about the record is how outdated it sounds. I do not know if Mr. Flynn is going through some mid life crisis or something, but it seems like he is trying WAY too hard to connect with the younger listeners, with lyrics that are so blatantly silly and cliche that you cannot take it seriously for five cents. Even if most of the stories told here are about drugs, abuse, tragedy, and overall dark stuff, it is presented in such a dumb and obvious way, just take a step back man. And then there is the fact that they steal a lot of stuff from other bands, like Slipknot, Stone Sour, Mastodon, Opeth, Korn, and I think I even hear a little Weezer in "Bastards" as well. God, what a mess.
It certainly does not help either that Flynn himself is literally all over the place with his vocal performance. I have never seen him as one of the great ones, but I have always loved his vocals because they balance the line between clean and harsh so well. Not in this album though, he goes over the top way too often, sounding like some form of hormonal teenager sometimes. It is truly a shame, because the rest of the performances are of typical standard. The guitar play is great, the drums slams on, and the bass does its job too.
I really cannot believe how many missteps this album has, this is supposed to be a band that had found their niche and become a force to be reckoned with, delivering great record after great record. "Catharsis" simply does not make any sense at all, it is an overly long gumbo of outdated nu-metal shit, small nuggets of Machine Head brilliance, and themes that are so overly serious that they become overly goofy. This will most certainly be a big contender for "disappointment of the year", and even fans of the band should take precautionary actions before even attempting to listen to it. Your beard may smell of snatch Mr. Flynn, but your new album just flat out stinks.
Songs worthy of recognition: Volatile, Kaleidoscope, Behind A Mask
Rating: 2,5/10 Triple Beams
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Bloodstone & Diamonds