November 10 saw the release of Machine Head’s eight studio album Bloodstone & Diamonds. This marks the first time that original bass player Adam Duce is missing from a Machine Head recording. Since then, Duce has been replaced by Jared MacEachern, who auditioned for the part. The lineup is rounded off with lead guitarist Phil Demmel, longtime drummer Dave McClain, and main song writer vocalist/guitarist Robb Flynn.
The album opens up with “Now We Die”, which starts the album up with an orchestral piece. The use of the orchestra throughout the song makes it a very unique Machine Head song. Far from the street metal sound from their debut Burn My Eyes. But don’t get it twisted, it’s still a heavy Machine Head that we all know. Phil Demmel’s guitar solo is brilliant in the song.
“Killers & Kings” is guitar blazing with very dark tone. This one is more in vein of 2007’s The Blackening. You can tell already by the opening tracks that there are far more guitar parts recorded in this album than ever before and real bonecrushing drums from McClain throughout the album. Vocally Robb Flynn has really getting better with the melodic parts, which really shows in the song “Ghost Will Haunt My Bones.”
The next track that really stands out is the dark, yet melodic “Sail Into The Black”. This one is a metal masterpiece, similar to “Darknest Within” off Unto The Locust. The band is kicking on all cylinders with this song, damn near perfect. This would be the reason to purchase the album even if you’re not a Machine Head fan. The next track “Eyes Of The Dead” is interesting and one of the heavier tracks off the album. It has that angry sound from 1997’s The More Things Change… that is sure to please the old school Machine Head fans.
Every song lyrically is brilliant. Some of them really paint a picture or tell a compelling story. Especially “Night Of Long Knives” (which tells the story of a woman who was raped and gets revenge) and in “In Comes The Flood.” Rob Flynn sings every lyric with emotion, and it properly suites the music. Lyrically this may be the best Machine Head record yet.
The album takes it slow with the ballad “Damage Inside”, similar to the song “The Burning Red”, a song off the album of the same name, but doesn’t have the produced beats yet it has that similar gloomy atmosphere. But it’s a good tune because you rarely ever hear Machine Head do any ballads in their albums.
Towards the end of the album there’s finally a nod towards Burn My Eyes. The second to last track is an instrumental tune called “Imaginal Cells” which also contains sound clips from news reports, similar to the track “Real Eyes, Realize, Real Lies” off Burn My Eyes. This definitely put a smile on my face. Clearly Machine Head is working hard to gain new followers as well as keeping the fans of old happy. The album finishes with “Take Me Through The Fire” which is a fast blazing track with absolute killer riffs and solos from Phil Demmel, however it doesn’t feel like a closing track; “Sail Into The Black” would have been a more appropriate way to close the album.
Overall, this is a fantastic record, one that stands out among all the recent metal releases this year. Comparing it to the rest of the catalog, defiantly comparable to Burn My Eyes and The Blackening in terms of their best work. I would put this above Through The Ashes Of Empires and Unto The Locust which is saying a lot. Musically and lyrically this album is fiend and will grab the attention of people who have never listened to Machine Head and hook them into the band while keeping the current fan base happy. I would expect great things to come from Machine Head in the future due to this album.
You can purchase the album here. This one is a must.
Key Tracks: Killers & Kings, Sail Into The Black
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/170022125″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]