Machine Head are finally back with the follow up to 2007’s epic ‘The Blackening’. Having toured with that album for what seems like forever, many feel ‘Unto The Locust’ is long overdue, but for the fans that have waited, their patience looks to be justified. Robb Flynn and co. were faced with a tough task after releasing what many consider to be one of the best metal albums this side of the millennium; whether to create a part 2 type album or go off on a different direction. It’s hard in this genre to innovate, especially with the meathead view of many metalheads that want to hear ‘Halo’ 100 times in a row, but there are parts of ‘Unto The Locust’ that the band have managed to mix it up a bit.
The first we heard of a new Machine Head album was damn near two years ago, but it wasn’t until June this year that we finally heard new material in the form of ‘Locust’, which appears to be the pick of the album. It is indeed a ‘Halo’-like track, but it also manages to be unique in parts and will no doubt become a staple of the live set. From the almost acoustic introduction, the song judders slightly into a groovy verse with a gorgeously heavy crunching guitar tone backing up Flynn‘s token roars. The singalong chorus will please the younger fans while not alienating the old before an almost ‘Supercharger’ moment before the solo. The best bit about this song though is clearly the end, with an almost beatdown-like section that genuinely feels like locusts are feasting on your very brain.
Another two songs from ‘Unto…’ that look like they’re gonna shoot to the top of metal club playlists are ‘This Is The End’ and album opener, ‘I Am Hell’. The latter is an excellent introduction into the album, and instantly quells fears of Machine Head doing a Metallica and chundering all over their thrash past. The riff is fairly progressive but works well with the downright sexy drums, featuring a very effective splash cymbal. ‘This Is The End’ is standard Machine Head up until the chorus, which almost sounds like Amon Amarth with the tremolo picking in the background.
The rest of the songs aren’t too shabby either: ‘Be Still And Know’ could easily have been the lead-off track, with its ‘Imperium’-like sound. ‘Pearls Before The Swine’ reminds you why UK bands such as Malefice and Sylosis often cite Machine Head as a major influence, with the outro featuring the closest you’re gonna find to a breakdown on the album. No doubt the Bring Me The Horizon fans will attempt to ween their way into the pit on the upcoming tour and suddenly get pummeled to the floor by tattooed sleeveless skinheads.
For its highs though, there are also lows. ‘Darkness Within’ features an intro that could easily be a Staind song before suddenly mutating into an over the top beatdown, sounding disjointed and silly. Not however as silly as the album closer ‘Who We Are’. Starting off with a children’s choir (seriously, what the fuck, don’t you kids have some Rusks to throw up on or something? Get the fuck out of my metal), it’s a horribly cliché affair for the rest of the song that I guess is intended to be an audial version of Flynn‘s speeches he does live to the effect of “THIS IS WHO WE ARE NO-ONE CAN STAND IN OUR WAY HURRR”. Oh, and the kids come back later on in the song. GO TO BED. FUCK.
Written by Martin Savage