Bay Area thrash metal icons Machine Head fronted by Robb Flynn have been around since the 1990s and just released their ninth full-length studio album Catharsis. The band enjoys a solid status around the world, but has, of course, received its fair share of positive and negative comments and reviews regarding their albums. This is my subjective opinion on how their nine studio albums rank from worst to best.
9. Supercharger (2001)
Although Supercharger might be deemed diverse and musically accomplished (cf. blabbermouth.net), Machine Head‘s fourth album disappointed this listener in many aspect. No song stuck with me while listening to the album.
8. The Burning Red (1999)
I reckon many Machine Head fans were not happy with the band’s flirtation with Nu Metal. User Napalm_Satan stated his disgust in metal-archives.com, “[I]f you take nothing else from this review: FUCK THIS ALBUM. This is one of the worst things related to metal that has ever been released!” The criticism includes that the songs have no real structural intelligence (verse-chorus all the way), no solos, no change-ups in terms of ‘riffs’ or pace, and an on-off sense of dynamics. I understand the criticism, but need to add that although the album didn’t do much for me either, it is an album I can spin in the background to have a sonic carpet.
7. The More Things Change… (1997)
Not a bad album at all, but maybe it suffers the curse of the sophomore album. The More Things Change… stayed close to the formula of Machine Head‘s debut album and provides good songs and strong energy. One might think that after decades the curse of the sophomore album might have worn off, but somehow it didn’t.
6. Unto the Locust (2011)
I like Unto the Locust and can spin it anytime. It might not be ‘the’ thrash metal album of the decade, but it has substance. Axl Rosenberg put it best: “Your standards would have to be inhumanly high not to enjoy the album at all at all. This Locust can plague me anytime.” (metalsucks.net)
5. Through the Ashes of Empires (2003)
As user Passenger wrote on metalstorm.net, “Everything good modern Thrash Metal should offer eventually appears in “Through The Ashes Of Empires“. I hesitate on calling it Machine Head‘s best moment, but when the reason is “Burn My Eyes” I don’t think that matters at all. Long live this imperium!” I agree …mostly.
4. Catharsis (2018)
Catharsis has received some tough love from various reviewers. Although I understand their criticism, I don’t share their opinions. Catharsis provides everything on my Machine Head wishlist: dark riffs, head-banging beats, dynamic arrangements, intense vocals, and dramatic stories. I can play it through without skipping one song. And, it offers some instant classics. Definitely a candidate for album of the year 2018.
3. The Blackening (2007)
Raziq Rauf notes on drownedinsound.com, “Eschewing the ridiculous fusion metal hybrids of recent years for a heady blend of towering thrash metal was a good move. This is heavy fucking metal. There is no other label for it.” I must agree.
2. Burn My Eyes (1994)
I remember staying up late on Sunday nights in the mid-90s to watch MTV’s Headbangers Ball in the hope that they’d play Machine Head‘s “Davidian” and “Old” so I could tape the videos. And, once I got the album I’d play it over and over again for many years to come. More than two decades later I can appreciate this album even more. Burn My Eyes is a timeless and honest thrash metal masterpiece.
1. Bloodstone & Diamonds (2014)
Not only the highest charting and best selling Machine Head album by the time of its release, also the most epic album in the band’s catalogue. The compositions and energy break all levels. Philosophically speaking, Bloodstone & Diamonds is a grown-up and sonically pleasing contemporary thrash metal masterpiece that has put its mark in the history books. What a way to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Machine Head‘s debut album Burn My Eyes.