Album Review: Machine Head — Catharsis



I almost thought about leaving it at that, because those three words should be enough to get anyone excited about CatharsisMachine Head is no stranger to the metal scene- Catharsis is the bands’ ninth studio album.  With that type of pedigree, you can imagine that every time Machine Head releases an album, the metal community gets excited.  A few months ago, frontman Robb Flynn said that this would be the darkest, heaviest album that the band has ever released.  That was enough to drive my level of interest to a 10.

Catharsis delivers on that promise.  The first item of note is that the album contains 15 tracks and comes in slightly over an hour and 15 minutes in length, which is epic by today’s standard.  The album is definitely heavy, and the music has a deep inspiration and sense of grit.  The very opening line of the album is “Fuck the World” and with that sentiment in mind, the first track “Volatile” sets the tone for the album.  “Volatile” was written and recorded on the same day as the Charlottesville massacre and is a scathing (and much needed) criticism of hate groups in America.

Other songs of note are the singles that were released in advance of the album.  “Catharsis”, the lead single, is the kind of song that is heavy and dark, yet you can’t seem to get it out of your head for days after you hear it.  “Beyond the Pale” is a heavy track that has seen some mainstream success.  The opening riff catches your attention and drives one of the heavier songs on the album.  The album has several other heavy tracks that build on what the band is known for, namely “Hope Begets Hope” and “Psychotic”.  Another noteworthy heavy track is “Razorblade Smile”, which is a fast and heavy anthem dedicated to the memory of late Motorhead frontman, Lemmy.

There is a unique aspect to this album as well, that shows the diversity of Machine Head as a band.  “Kaleidoscope”, which may be my favorite track on the album outside of the opener, embraces a more punk/thrash approach to the album.  This is echoed on “Bastards”, which starts out as an acoustic track and builds to a Irish/Celtic style punk track, a la Dropkick Murphys. The acoustic theme is echoed on “Behind a Mask”, which is a well placed breather on the album, an acoustic track that highlights Flynn with fully clean vocals.

On the flip side is “Grind You Down”, a track which is reminiscent of Slipknot, highlighted with grinding tectonics on guitar and the heavy whisper style, angry vocals made famous by Corey Taylor.  The album also incorporates elements of nu metal on “California Bleeding”, which also features a nice harmonic guitar solo.  “Heavy Lies the Crown” is another unique track, that has a slow build to a feverish explosion, only to taper off at the end.

In a time where releasing 40 minute, 10 song albums seems to be the standard, Machine Head bucks the trend by releasing exactly what you would expect: a loud, heavy, grinding album that keeps the listener engaged for a full 75 minute ride.  The album likely won’t go down as the bands heaviest, but that is not to say that there aren’t truly heavy elements.  “Volatile” may be my favorite Machine Head song to date.  The album has heavy moments that don’t let up, but it is the refreshing breaks that make the album complete to me.  Machine Head has done what few bands are willing to do with Catharsis — they took some risks to step outside their comfort zone and create a heavy, diverse album.  If you ask me, it paid off.

What are your thoughts on the latest album from Machine Head? The band is on tour now in support Catharsis — for tickets and information, click here. Let us know all your thoughts down below in the comments or hit us up on Twitter: @SpinThoughts.

TAGS: Machine Head

Twitter: @JBoneBass

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