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Machine Head
Through The Ashes of Empires
August 2004
Released: 2003, Roadrunner
Rating: 2.0/5
Reviewer: JP

I don’t know why I’m reviewing this. The debut was quite decent but failed to stand the test of time. The rest of the releases just sucked. So along comes the fifth studio release of these dudes and the hype machine is on overdrive. Media types were tagging this as a ‘Return to Form’, ‘Best in years’ etc… Well, like a chump I listened to the hype and actually for a fleeting moment let myself think they might have produced something decent.

OK, admittedly this is far better than the last two. However that is not saying much. When you go from zero you can only go up I suppose. I must admit I admire the band survival skills, they keep going with a solid little fan base, touring around having fun, despite constant and overwhelmingly negative reviews throughout the metal community. You can’t ask for much more.

The bands revolving door of members continues but to my ears there was not a considerable difference. Flynn’s voice is till shot lacking any aggression and often having to use studio tricks to generate intensity. There is still a virtual lack of decent soloing and the guitar riffs are dull and uninspired. The production is kind of in the midrange lacking bite or punch. The lows aren’t low enough, the highs aren’t high enough the whole mix sits flatly in the middle. In terms of song structure there too many dull mid-tempo songs with those dumb breakdowns. The track ‘Seasons Wither’ they try to mix up the pace a bit with a few fast parts and slow parts which is nice but then Flynn wrecks the slow part with his whiny angst vocals.

Well, they have tried to return to a heavier sound and it’s clear a lot fans are digging this CD as it is one of their best selling releases. Nice try but still not good enough.
Track Listing

1. Imperium
2. Bite The Bullet
3. Left Unfinished
4. Elegy
5. In The Presence Of My Enemies
6. Days turn Blue to Gray
7. Vim
8. Seasons Wither
9. All Falls down
10. Wipe The Tears
Descend The Shades of Night


Robert Flynn-vocals, guitar
Phil Demmel-guitar
Adam Duce-bass
Dave McLain-drums



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