Fronted by charismatic vocalist/guitarist Robb Flynn, Machine Head is ready to deliver the ambitious ninth album “Catharsis” which aims to reach a wider audience confidently mixing diverse stylistic elements while keeping an understated fury.
The familiar undiluted rage blasting through “Volatile” will take you back in time as a brutal rhythmic assault is fiercely built by super crunchy guitar riffs and blistering drums that undoubtedly hold a classic Machine Head style and the whole instrumentation marches triumphantly creating all kinds of heavy grooves and belligerent tonalities while the big chorus focuses on pure melodic catchiness.
The title track offers an enigmatic mood that momentarily seems to deviate from the band’s signature style favoring modern atmospheric layers that will introduce an intriguing mixture of luminous melodies and punishing guitar driven grooves creating a somber duality, matched by a combo of soulful clean vocals and venomous growls, which will dominate the song’s structure.
“Beyond The Pale” might start with somber melodies but swiftly gains more aggressive dynamics with loads of entertaining fiery guitar riffing and a steady heavy groove without necessarily sacrificing the song’s inner melodic essence.
“Kaleidoscope” returns to a more enraged approach where guitars lead the way with distorted crunchy tones as well as nu-metal accents enhanced by almost ferocious growls that become strangely accessible in the catchy chorus surrounded by subtle electro/orchestral background layers.
“Hope Begets Hope” features several inspired melodic moments leading to a powerful shredding guitar solo but certainly doesn’t refrain from offering some classic punishing rhythmic patterns that pack massive crunchy guitars and savage screams.
Putting aside any sign of rage “Behind A Mask” is an acoustic piece where guitars acquire an ethereal luminous aura and the vocal harmonies become poignant and absolutely melancholic contributing to the soothing poetic quality of these easy melodies.
Opening with a graceful atmospheric moment “Heavy Lies The Crown” acquires a rather epic feel enhanced by Robb’s theatrical storytelling delivery but soon thick guitars take over with darker aesthetics, occasional venomous groovy dynamics and scorching leads yet the melodic nature of this track remains quite dominant.
With a contemplative atmosphere “Eulogy” relies on soft ambiance echoes, minimalist melodies and emotional depth that at some point will inevitably dwell in a particularly darkened realm with a slightly experimental sonic approach that deliberately deviates from your standard metal track.
Fans of the band’s early discography will recognize similar vicious rhythmic patterns shining throughout “Catharsis” which for many could/should have been a better album but is certainly the result of a desire to explore multiple metal subgenres and overcome standard music rules with absolute freedom.