Machine Head: Unto The Locust
The result is a record that’s every bit as majestic, but much more dynamic and focused. There are no 10-minute-long tracks of riffing madness, but the lengthy song structures of The Blackening are present. All seven tracks on this record are over five minutes, but do not reach past the eight and a half minute mark. Record opener, “I am Hell,” is a three-part song that opens with the eerie Gregorian chant “sangre sani,” which means “blood saints.” Within a minute, the guitars rip into a dirge-like riff before the band kicks in to thrash mode by the three minute mark. The song is a roller coaster ride that showcases excellent riffing by Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel. The band is not all over the place as they were at times on the previous record, as the song is consistent but technical.
The second track, “Be Still and Know,” has a power metal opening that hints at a classical influence throughout this song. Drummer Dave McClain shines brightly on this record, pounding some of the most complex rhythms heard on a Machine Head record.
“Locust” is the centerpiece of the record. A haunting but beautiful song about deceiving individuals that prey on people like locusts in the field; this song rolls along like a man with a heavy burden. This track will definitely be a staple for the band’s live shows.
Machine Head pulls out some new twists with the semi-acoustic “Darkness Within.” It is not a pop track, but the song’s accessibility gives it radio play potential. Album closer, “Who We Are,” is a song of unity. The kids’ chorus complements the militaristic beat that follows it. It’s simply a killer metal tune that induces headbanging, moshing, and crowd surfing. Metal bands have a tendency to release an “accessible” record after releasing the most brutal or technical record in a group’s career. Machine Head did follow the trend, as Unto the Locust is every bit as heavy, melodic, and complex as The Blackening; just without the heightened ambitions the band had four to five years ago. Unto the Locust is the best record in the band’s 20-year career. Hands down, Unto the Locust shows Machine Head at its finest hour.
Be sure to visit: http://www.machinehead1.com/ and read our interview with Phil Demmel.
Review by Jerel Johnson