Machine Head – Catharsis (Album Review)

Machine Head – Catharsis
Released: January 26th, 2018

Machine Head are:

Robb Flynn // Vocals
Phil Demmel // Guitar
Jared MacEachern // Bass
Dave McClain // Drums

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Ambitious’ is perhaps the aptest way to describe the ninth Machine Head studio release. The fan backlash in wake of vocalist, Robb Flynn’s slamming of a negative reviewer, has created a tumultuous lead up to release. This, in tandem with the stylistic departures of the heavy metal band on Catharsis, has created a significant divide throughout the fanbase concerning the quality of this new album.

External and public controversy aside, the aforementioned ambition of Catharsis is a very real aspect of the album. Indeed, the surfacing of hardcore, and hip-hop elements – as well as the ever-expanding nu metal pandemic – by all means spell for an intriguing and potentially career-defining release. Unfortunately, Catharsis comes off as desperately sloppy, and an unfortunate waste of potential.

Straight up, Catharsis is new. Having learnt from 2014’s, Bloodstone & Diamonds flaw, it does not seek to be Locust 3.0. Furthermore, there is no reason for this band to regurgitate another hour of the blistering aggression that we’ve already heard on a half dozen of their other albums. This record can be seen as a testament to the expanding tastes and boundaries of the band. The musicianship is sound; the dual guitar harmonies and hauntingly minor solos that we’ve grown to expect from Machine Head are ever present, McClain’s drumming is solid as ever, and new bassist, MacEachern, proves aptitude for the role. Flynn’s vocals are, as ever, on point – as brash and aggressive and subtle as needed. The dynamic vocal qualities on Catharsis are certainly the widest they’ve ever been. So what exactly is it that makes the record such a waste?

 

Let’s break it down.

The simple fact is that this effort is ultimately subpar, and fails to reach the standards set by MH throughout their extensive corpus. Time and time again, I can’t help but feel this record missed out on a refinement process. It sounds like they tracked a demo melody with some draft lyrics, looked at each other and went “yeah that’s pretty good”.

There are some pretty big balls on some of these songs with the risks they take. The ‘Bastards’ single (above) is an emotional politically-driven pseudo-poem. ‘Triple Beam’ is a strange combo of Machine Head and Limp Bizkit (which is not a sentence I ever thought I would be writing). The fact that these songs exist at all is a bold step outside of the continually stale modern metal sound. However, the fundamental issue with these tracks, and indeed much of the album, is that there is a severe lack of quality creativity present, which not only prevents these songs from reaching their full potential, but also renders the whole effort at a base level boring.

 

An unfortunate truth to this album is that I simply was not expecting to dislike it so much. From the bleak predictability of many of the melodies to the laughable 18 “NO”’s in ten seconds on ‘Bastards’, this album just disappoints in so many ways. The myriad of stolen- inspired – riffs (I mean come on, the main riff on ‘Beyond the Pale’ is jacked straight from ‘Bloodsimple’) and vocal cues taken from Corey Taylor to Max Cavelera make for, in all honesty, an album that is really difficult to listen to. It doesn’t feel inspired the way an album of this diversity should, it doesn’t feel fresh, and at the end of the day, it doesn’t sound good.

Check out (I guess):

  • Catharsis
  • Bastards
  • Beyond The Pale

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Machine Head – Catharsis tracklist:

  1. Volatile
  2. Catharsis
  3. Beyond the Pale
  4. California Bleeding
  5. Triple Beam
  6. Kaleidoscope
  7. Bastards
  8. Hope Begets Hope
  9. Screaming At The Sun
  10. Heavy Lies The Crown
  11. Psychotic
  12. Grind You Down
  13. Razorblade Smile
  14. Eulogy

Rating: 2/10
Catharsis 
is out Friday January 26th via Nuclear Blast. Pre-Order here
Review by Miles Knox

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6 Comments on Machine Head – Catharsis (Album Review)

  1. Good reveiw! Sad but true ! Machinehead just dosnt fire on all cylinders here. An uninspired mess!

  2. WTF is this shitty review? This review should be removed right now, this is just free hate. Where is the mention to other songs? There is just mention to the tracks that were released previously. Did you have listen atleast “Heavy Lies The Crown”? What a fucking moroon, if u are going to review something let clever people do that please and go listen Pantera instead.

    • Well the general consensus from the metal community seems to agree that this isn’t their best work, or even close to it. Good on you for enjoying it though and seeing something that we all can’t.

    • This is not hate, mate. Being a Machine Head fan myself, this hurt me to write, but it hurt more to listen to the album. If you dig the effort then more power to you, but I stand by everything I said.

  3. Sure consensus makes sense, the “true fan base” of MH is fucking shit , they only want what they want

    • Most toxic fan base I have ever seen, they are always complaining about something in every fucking album , if you don’t like it atleast don’t say that it is garbage, its a really good album, just because there is no what you want doesn’t mean that is bad faggots.

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