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  1. #1
    5150 HuBBs5150's Avatar
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    Default OMFG! Get The Blackening!

    Machine Head has outdone themselves and many other Meal Legends. The blackening is one of the best metal albums released in the past 10 years. This album is a melodic masterpiece. If there are any head cases on this board, you can back me up on this. Not to mention all the insane reviews the album has been getting. Check em out below.

    ----------

    Metal Hammer (UK):

    MACHINE HEAD
    The Blackening

    Metal's legendary fighters raise the bar.

    It's hard to believe that less than five years ago, Machine Head were on the brink of devastation. The relative failure of 2001's 'Supercharger' album and the subsequent split from their record label had robbed them of their confidence and direction. Appallingly, the future looked bleak. As a result, the manner of their comeback - the astonishing return to form of 2003's 'Through the Ashes of Empires' and the triumphant live shows that followed - was all the more welcome and heartening for old and new fans alike.

    And now that stirring tale of victory snatched from the jaws of defeat continues: 'The Blackening' is absolutely fucking stunning. With only eight tracks but coming in at over an hour in length, the creative quantum leap the band made last time round with mini-epics like 'Imperium' and 'In The Presence of My Enemies' has clearly gathered pace, resulting in an album that takes the best from all that Machine Head have achieved in the past, and cranks everything up an insane number of qualitative notches.

    Gargantuan opener 'Clenching the Fists of Dissent' sets the tone with maximum dramatic impact. It begins with an ominous, sombre intro and then erupts into a swirling labyrinth of brutal riffs, structural twists and textural turns. Every member of the band is playing out of their skin as Robb Flynn unleashes his finest ever vocal performance; something he sustains throughout the album. Far more than just an exercise in technical showboating, 'Clenching...' is also a wonderfully crafted song, brimming with emotion and controlled ferocity. Remarkably, each of the remaining songs matches it. 'Beautiful Mourning' is a slamming, succinct anthem that soothes as it crushes. 'Aesthetics of Hate' snarls, rips and lacerates at a breathless pace; thrash metal's corpse regenerated via an eye-popping dose of fiercely modern progressive protein. 'Now I Lay Thee Down' swings like a buffalo's nutsack, Flynn's voice veering from roar to soar, while the vitrilolic 'Slanderous' is a celebratory onslaught of sinewy riffs; air-tight, relentless and irresistible. 'Halo' is the album's grand dynamic ballad, albeit one with the pulverising, slow-burn momentum of a runaway steamroller. Best of all, the closing brace of 'Wolves' and 'A Farewell To Arms' - two turbulent, shape-shifting colossi that contain more moments of savage perfection than most bands could squeeze out in a lifetime of trying - are the best of the lot; an exquisite, 20-minute valediction that should have fans jumping off their sofas and breaking into spontaneous applause.

    More than any band since Maiden, Machine Head have cultivated a powerful bond with their fans through sheer honesty, humility and a fervent devotion to metal's sacred principles. Once this magnificent album reaches the ears of the faithful, that bond will be set in stone forever, and you sense that Flynn and his comrades know it. No wonder 'The Blackening' hums and crackles with such overpowering confidence and pride. Not just the finest album of their career, this is Machine Head's victory address. We never doubted them, they never doubted us, and this masterpiece represents the spoils of war. Enjoy it.

    10 / 10

    -DOM LAWSON


    Kerrang!:

    MACHINE HEAD
    The Blackening

    Taking The Power Back
    OAKLAND RAIDERS PULL OUT ALL THE STOPS ON COLOSSAL SIXTH ALBUM

    'This is a call to arms, will you stand beside me? This is a time to fight, no more compromising', furiously spits Robb Flynn on 'Halo'. It's not only a plea, but it's a firm statement of intent that resonates through every savage riff, frantic drumbeat, thundering bassline, screaming solo and venomous lyric of 'The Blackening'. Machine Head needed to deliver the album of their career. And they have delivered. In spades.

    For their sixth album, the Bay Area metallers have directed their focus on the very elements that make them Machine Head, amplifying every aspect of their sound, pushing the envelope of their abilities and distilling it all into their most ambitious, powerful, credible and accomplished work to date. With only one of its eight tracks clocking in at under five minutes - half of them weighing in at a mammoth nine minutes-plus - it's epic without being self-indulgent, diverse without being drawn-out and angry without being clichéd.

    Opener 'Clenching The Fists Of Dissent' begins with a distant, echoing bass strum, building to an acoustic intro backed with a militaristic drum crescendo before exploding into a ravaging riff for a 10-minute thrashfest. 'Beautiful Mourning' bursts into life with a cyclonic swirl of guitars and defiant 'fuck you all!'. Slowing the pace a little with 'Now I Lay Thee Down' - featuring the obligatory shredding breakdown, natch - it's the closest they get to a ballad; in the most viciously powerful sense of the word, of course. The slow-burning 'Halo' is another hefty epic, with all the ammo in the Machine Head arsenal thrown into the ring, each musician stretching himself with every note and drumbeat, the fury balanced with serenity, allowing the suffocating anger room to breathe.

    Their crowning glory, however, is 'Aesthetics Of Hate', written in response to the media circus surrounding the death of Dimebag Darrell. Clattering into life with a galloping opening gambit it charges at a furious pace, Flynn snarling his vitriol through gritted teeth before taking on Phil Demmel in a frantic duel of a guitar solo before exploding back to life, breaking down into a solemn death march and collapsing in a squall of feedback.

    To coin a lyric, Flynn and co have taken their rage to overcome and ploughed all their fury into producing their definitive album. In 'The Blackening', Machine Head have not only created a monster; they have produced their absolute masterpiece.

    5 / 5

    -Caren Gibson


    Metal Edge:

    MACHINE HEAD
    The Blackening

    Just as they did in 1994 with their debut Burn My Eyes, Machine Head has once again lifted the proverbial metal bar and set a new standard for bands to be measured against. Although Machine Head's sound has been the subject of much scrutiny in previous years, they rejuvenated and redeemed their career with 2003's Through the Ashes of Empires. But redemption is nothing without validation, and The Blackening, the band's first effort in nearly four years, is the musical stamp of validation that transcends their own limitations, pitting Machine Head once again at the head of a pack of wolves.

    On the surface, The Blackening is Machine Head's masterpiece. Four of the eight songs comprise nearly forty of The Blackening's sixty minutes, two of which eclipse the ten minute mark. During a time when good song writing seems to be at an all time low (quality three minute songs are apparently difficult to write for most) Machine Head has figured out a way to write songs that are long and compelling, simple and complex, brutal and beautiful. With The Blackening, Machine Head has embarked on a path many bands fear to tread and they have successfully accomplished a feat that has not been reached since Metallica's Master of Puppets.

    But it goes even deeper. The Blackening is an epic journey through a hypnotic blend of thrash roots and metal riffs that starkly contrasts the more melodic elements of Machine Head with the heavier aspects reminiscent of Burn My Eyes. Resonating inside the deepest and darkest chambers of your mind, The Blackening takes you places your mind doesn't want to go. Highlighted by tracks "Clenching the Fists of Dissent," "Halo," and "A Farewell to Arms," the dark and strikingly aggressive music penetrates and haunts you. The resulting cathartic purge, whether a scream or a cry, is a "calling to arms" for all to stand up to their own demons. After all, "this is our time to fight, no more compromise."

    And there is no compromising. As it stands now, The Blackening is the best release of 2007 and bands will have to work really hard to change that. It is not another act of redemption for Machine Head, but rather for the fans, as The Blackening is one of the few albums that elicit an emotional response. Your soul cannot feel clean after listening to only parts of The Blackening, however over the course of an hour it is a blackening and cleansing all in one.

    -Andrew Gargano
    -----HuBBs5150-----

    "Meet us in the future not the pasture!" - DLR, Aug 13th 2007

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  2. #2
    5150 HuBBs5150's Avatar
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    Blabbermouth:

    MACHINE HEAD
    The Blackening

    "The Blackening", Machine Head's sixth studio album, is quite simply the band's best effort since its shattering 1994 debut, "Burn My Eyes", and may even surpass that modern classic. It may also be the best all-out metal recording of 2007. This is a no-holds-barred, brutally heavy, uncompromising album, a labor of love on which every single note of music bleeds with the passion and anger of Robb Flynn and his bandmates. And the music they've created here — eight songs, with two of them passing the nine-minute mark and another pair cruising past ten minutes — is relentless, monstrously heavy and perhaps lyrically darker than anything the band has done before. In short, Machine Head has made its masterpiece.

    Machine Head — and Flynn in particular — have always been under intense scrutiny since arriving on the metal scene in such unforgettable style with "Burn My Eyes" all those years ago. In the ensuing decade and a half, expectations and commercial pressures seemed to drive everyone a little crazy: the band, its label, and its fans, all of whom seem to be searching for some sort of abstract, undefined height of perfection and success. The frantic overthinking on the still-worthy sophomore album "The More Things Change" was followed by the more market-driven pursuits of "The Burning Red" (which was nevertheless a solid CD) and "Supercharger" (widely acknowledged as the band's lowest ebb). Fifth album "Through the Ashes of Empire" found the group righting the ship, discarding counsel about current music trends and finding its way back to the most pure-sounding Machine Head CD since the first. Freed of commercial considerations, "Empire" was the best-received MH effort in a while and paved the way for the all-out assault of "The Blackening".

    Aside from the first record, this is the ultimate Machine Head album: it clearly sounds like the work of a band completely following its artistic bent without giving a damn for the consequences. Only that kind of mindset would allow any act to open an album with a track that runs for 10 minutes and 34 seconds. But that's just what Machine Head has done with "Clenching the Fists of Dissent". The song's haunting, gentle opening soon gives way to an overwhelming barrage of riffs, tempo changes and mood swings, each calibrated for maximum heaviness and impact. The track sets the tone for the rest of the album, with a vibe that veers between fury and despair.

    The sonic pyrotechnics continue straight into "Beautiful Mourning" and the literally breathtaking "Aesthetics of Hate", which channels its title emotion into a blazing volcano of pure speed and furious guitarwork from Flynn and Phil Demmel. The fact that the song is driven by Flynn's anger over the media response to Dimebag Darrell's death only adds to its raw energy. "Now I Lay Thee Down" is the closest that Machine Head comes to easing off the accelerator on this record, but even its slight lean in a ballad-like direction is balanced by its onslaught of slow, ominous riffing.

    The incredible barrage of metallic power continues on "Slanderous" and especially "Halo", whose main riff is nothing short of classic Machine Head. All four members of the band — Flynn, Demmel, bassist Adam Duce and drummer Dave McClain — have not only risen to the occasion on this record, but surpassed themselves, with Flynn and Demmel playing off each other in an intense, dynamic way that Flynn has arguably never had before with any previous Machine Head guitarist. The fluid playing of all four members and seamless songwriting keeps each song lively and interesting, so that even the most lengthy numbers never feel like they're dragging.

    "The Blackening" ends almost where it begins, with "A Farewell to Arms", like "Dissent", addressing the spiraling, catastrophic situation that the once-mighty U.S. has found itself in thanks to its depraved, delusional, war-mongering leadership. But whereas "Dissent" is a fevered call to revolution, "Farewell" is more mournful and accusing: "War hawks and senators they sit tight, so trite/Never their sons will know what it's like to fight/But soldiers are dead/And children have bled/And the silence is numb/What have we become?" Some here on the Blabbermouth message boards have already commented on the political nature of the lyrics, but Flynn's clear, unrestrained feelings on these subjects only add to the sense of artistic freedom and emotional power on the disc.

    In a recent span of time that has seen credible comeback efforts from Slayer and Type O Negative, plus worthy new albums from contenders like Lamb of God, Trivium and Mastodon, it's fitting that Machine Head — who waged an often lonely battle to keep its identity through metal's ups and downs — have topped them all and set the standard for the next big return to form (we're looking at you, Metallica). But "The Blackening" is no mere comeback: it's the nearly perfect testament to the musical, personal and commercial journey that Machine Head has taken and survived all these years, their sound and integrity restored and intact. It's also one of the purest, finest, most powerful expressions of modern heavy metal released in this young but already blackened century.

    9.5 / 10

    -Don Kaye

    Rocksound:

    MACHINE HEAD
    The Blackening

    ALBUM OF THE MONTH

    Machine Head's 1994 debut 'Burn My Eyes' tore strips off the ears, and no subsequent release has come close to its power. 'The More Things Change' was a credible follow-up, 'The Burning Red' saw the band descend into the popular ranks of nu-metal, and 'Supercharger' was the ultimate crisis point in the band's career. Fifth album 'Through The Ashes Of Empires' marked a welcome return to form, with standout track 'Imperium' mimicking the political chaos of 'Davidian' nine years on. But nothing could touch the raw force of 'Burn My Eyes' - until now. 'The Blackening' begins like Machine Head's very own 'Master Of Puppets'. The band have already recorded a cover version of Metallica's 'Battery', and opening track 'Clenching The Fists Of Dissent' mimics it by walking a stately march and then breaking into a run. Two minutes in, a full-on old-skool thrash attack hammers the nail into 'Supercharger''s coffin forever. Thus begins 10 minutes of pure Machine Head carnage, where life-affirming chants of "fight!" break through the noise and set the listener up for what's about to come.

    From here on in, the band revamp their finest riffs and breakdowns, playing them in the modern metal style they created on 'Through The Ashes Of Empires'.

    'Beautiful Mourning' shares aggressive sonic qualities with 'A Thousand Lies', but the beautiful part comes from Robb Flynn's improved slow and sinister way of singing. Similarly, 'Slanderous' recalls the galloping guitars of 'Bay Of Pigs', but sounds sleeker and stronger.

    If 'Through The Ashes Of Empires' wasn't enough to realign Machine Head with the metal community, 'Aesthetics Of Hate' will be. The song takes its title from a letter of the same name, penned by a man called William Grim on conservative website The Iconoclast after Dimebag Darrell was shot on stage. Where Grim's letter damns "ignorant, filthy, and hideously ugly heavy metal fans" for their passions, Machine Head's song damns grim with the vitriolic refrain "may the hand of God strike them down".

    Flynn's anger remains strong after 15 years, and rips through the smooth production on 'The Blackening'. Anti-war themes remain central, from 'Clenching The Fists Of Dissent''s defiant chanting to 'Halo''s reactionary cry, "this is a call to arms, will you stand beside me?" Here, bursts of melodic riffage get lodged in the brain like negative feedback loops, while the chorus shares a hymn-like quality with 'Beautiful Mourning' and tale of tragedy 'Now I Lay Thee Down'.

    Machine Head meld these themes with another dose of thrash to end on 10-minute epic 'A Farewell To Arms'. Its title comes from of Hemingway's anti-war novels, again aligning the band with Metallica, who borrowed 'For Whom The Bell Tolls' for their own metal masterpiece. Chills run down the spine as Flynn ends by asking: "This silence is numb, what have we become?" in summation of 'The Blackening'. This is Machine Head's finest hour since 'Burn My Eyes', and it may prove to be their greatest ever.

    9 / 10

    -Eleanor Goodman
    -----HuBBs5150-----

    "Meet us in the future not the pasture!" - DLR, Aug 13th 2007

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  3. #3
    5150 HuBBs5150's Avatar
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    Decibel:

    MACHINE HEAD
    The Blackening

    It's better than the rest

    This can't be right: A Machine Head album with jagged prog-metal movements and four songs that surpass the nine-minute mark? Oh but it is, and the result's as massive and masochistic as the running time suggests. Basically, that makes The Blackening Machine Head's best album since Burn My Eyes and the second consecutive release in what's clearly becoming the band's renaissance period--an artery-tapping run of reckless ambition that almost makes up for the career-marring frat-metal detour of Burning Red and its goddamn crunch-tastic Police cover.

    Which brings us to an important question: Who does Robert Flynn think he is all of a sudden? A blistered and beaten bastard child of Dream Theater and Pantera? A chord-climbing hero of those who like metal without the -core? Not exactly. If he's moving toward anything in Machine Head's golden years, it's that of the Great American Antihero. Simply put, dude's pissed off at our President and his appalling foreign policies, as well as humanity in general. So rather than exercise his ego, Flynn has turned his eyeglass outward, opening his mouth as wide as a whale and firing off seared solos in every direction. In other words, Flynn has decided to start writing compelling protest music, matching "this is our time to fight" rhetoric with rippling oceans of noise and riffs that burn like the rubber of a racecar driver.

    The Man isn't his only target either; Flynn also drags his dirty nails down the back of organized religion ("Halo," which is a real high point), intolerant bigots (the daring "Slanderous"), and even a journalist ("Aesthetics of Hate") who had no problem bashing Dimebag Darrell soon after his death. "Aesthetics of Hate" is especially haunting, weaving its way through a labyrinth of swooping, sweeping guitars and the threatening final thought "may the hand of god strike them down." Throughout the time and stylistic changes, you'll barely notice that The Blackening crams an hour of genuinely creative ideas into eight debilitating tracks. That and you'll actually be left wanting another masterwork from what's turning out to be one of the greatest survivors of the Backward Baseball Cap Age.

    9 / 10

    -Andrew Parks


    Rocksound:

    MACHINE HEAD
    The Blackening

    ALBUM OF THE MONTH

    Machine Head's 1994 debut 'Burn My Eyes' tore strips off the ears, and no subsequent release has come close to its power. 'The More Things Change' was a credible follow-up, 'The Burning Red' saw the band descend into the popular ranks of nu-metal, and 'Supercharger' was the ultimate crisis point in the band's career. Fifth album 'Through The Ashes Of Empires' marked a welcome return to form, with standout track 'Imperium' mimicking the political chaos of 'Davidian' nine years on. But nothing could touch the raw force of 'Burn My Eyes' - until now. 'The Blackening' begins like Machine Head's very own 'Master Of Puppets'. The band have already recorded a cover version of Metallica's 'Battery', and opening track 'Clenching The Fists Of Dissent' mimics it by walking a stately march and then breaking into a run. Two minutes in, a full-on old-skool thrash attack hammers the nail into 'Supercharger''s coffin forever. Thus begins 10 minutes of pure Machine Head carnage, where life-affirming chants of "fight!" break through the noise and set the listener up for what's about to come.

    From here on in, the band revamp their finest riffs and breakdowns, playing them in the modern metal style they created on 'Through The Ashes Of Empires'.

    'Beautiful Mourning' shares aggressive sonic qualities with 'A Thousand Lies', but the beautiful part comes from Robb Flynn's improved slow and sinister way of singing. Similarly, 'Slanderous' recalls the galloping guitars of 'Bay Of Pigs', but sounds sleeker and stronger.

    If 'Through The Ashes Of Empires' wasn't enough to realign Machine Head with the metal community, 'Aesthetics Of Hate' will be. The song takes its title from a letter of the same name, penned by a man called William Grim on conservative website The Iconoclast after Dimebag Darrell was shot on stage. Where Grim's letter damns "ignorant, filthy, and hideously ugly heavy metal fans" for their passions, Machine Head's song damns grim with the vitriolic refrain "may the hand of God strike them down".

    Flynn's anger remains strong after 15 years, and rips through the smooth production on 'The Blackening'. Anti-war themes remain central, from 'Clenching The Fists Of Dissent''s defiant chanting to 'Halo''s reactionary cry, "this is a call to arms, will you stand beside me?" Here, bursts of melodic riffage get lodged in the brain like negative feedback loops, while the chorus shares a hymn-like quality with 'Beautiful Mourning' and tale of tragedy 'Now I Lay Thee Down'.

    Machine Head meld these themes with another dose of thrash to end on 10-minute epic 'A Farewell To Arms'. Its title comes from of Hemingway's anti-war novels, again aligning the band with Metallica, who borrowed 'For Whom The Bell Tolls' for their own metal masterpiece. Chills run down the spine as Flynn ends by asking: "This silence is numb, what have we become?" in summation of 'The Blackening'. This is Machine Head's finest hour since 'Burn My Eyes', and it may prove to be their greatest ever.

    9 / 10

    -Eleanor Goodman
    -----HuBBs5150-----

    "Meet us in the future not the pasture!" - DLR, Aug 13th 2007

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