RoD header


machinehead locust
Artist: Machine Head
Title: Unto The Locust
Genre: Groove Metal
Release Date: 23rd September 2011
Label: Roadrunner Records

Album Review

MACHINE HEAD has been considered one of the more enigmatic metal bands ever since they exploded with their debut ‘Burn My Eyes’. It was groovy, heavy, and a fresh sound the followed bands like FEAR FACTORY and PRONG. Of course, like any band, MACHINE HEAD had their downs when they turned to a more nu/ rap-metal based sound with ‘The Burning Red’ and ‘Supercharger’. This combination followed the trend of early 2000 bands from MUDVAYNE to DISTURBED, but it almost made the band’s demise because it just wasn’t MACHINE HEAD quality music. Fans thought they had sold out rather than keep up with a solid, original sound. Finally, in 2003, they broke their slump with ‘Through The Ashes Of Empires’, a signature piece full of modern metal galore that included both heavy and acoustic songs with a blend of bellowing vocals full of hate and softer, clean vocal crooning. In 2007 the band continued to expand on that sound with ‘The Blackening’ which was an epic piece that pushed their limits and boundaries as far as they had ever gone, and the fans loved it. Now, with higher standards set, MACHINE HEAD return four years later (right on schedule) with their seventh full length album ‘Unto the Locust.’

Fans can hear traces of both ‘Through the Ashes…’ and ‘The Blackening’ within ‘Unto…’. Like ‘Blackening’, it features a small, but lengthy number of tracks. Thankfully, none of them are too long as before some fans complained that MACHINE HEAD had created too many repetitive sections. Here there are none. The album begins with some soft chanting in a church-like atmosphere before turning to a marching, chugging rhythm with ‘I Am Hell’. Then Robb Flynn’s vocals come in dripping in venom and his signature guitar squeals alongside Phil Demmel. The music is still incredibly angry, but on a more satisfied note of acceptance of what is rather than whining or venting at life. There is a more poetic touch to it. One thing to notice on the vocals is they seem rougher, almost death metal-like with the screams, though they become more normal as the song progresses on. Other parts throughout the song seem to borrow parts from ‘The Blackening’s first track as well with how the song just bulldozes right through with little remorse before breaking up for a brief acoustic bit. On other tracks like ‘Best Still and Know’, the clean vocal work seems more a group attempt from the other members along with Flynn compared to his usual solo efforts. Dave McClain still knows how to hammer the battery with just the right pauses and the double bass drum pedal work is amazing. ‘Unto…’ also has its slower tracks as well such as ‘Locust’ which are more melodic, softer at times really allowing the guitars to shine through, and carries a darker atmosphere with them very similar to ‘A Farewell to Arms’ from ‘The Blackening’. Overall this atmosphere is incredibly anthem-like - which is true to MACHINE HEAD format ever since ‘Burn My Eyes’ - while still bringing something new to the table.

Of course ‘Unto…’ has its more generic tracks as well. ‘This Is the End’ features heavy verses and a catchy chorus, but the repetitive nature of the music tends to irk in the way that ‘Now I Lay Thee Down’ did for ‘The Blackening’. It doesn’t seem versatile enough. ‘The Darkness Within’ starts off as an acoustic track, but comes too close to sounding like ‘Descend the Shades of Night’ from ‘Through Ashes…’ There is a nice balance between heavy and soft here, but it doesn’t really bring anything evolutionary to MACHINE HEAD’S style, and the band could have done so much more to progress their sound by possibly making it an entirely acoustic track, which is a rare thing for any music from this band. It would have been a great curveball, in the way their rap-metal days were. Thankfully, the best proof that MACHINE HEAD is still experimenting (and succeeding) is ‘Who We Are’, which has a classical feeling to the music and even singing children which adds a very haunting aspect. All through the song the music is heavy like ‘Be Still and Know,’ but it is in an epic sense since listeners can tell the musicians are throwing all they can into the song writing here in trying to make this the best track to go out on. It especially sounds awesome when Flynn is in chorus with the children and McClain puts a militant march to the drums behind the cello which appears out of nowhere, ending the track on a dark, sorrowful note.

Overall, ‘Unto the Locust’ can be considered ‘The Blackening part 2’, but on a smaller scale while not being a total repeat. If listeners loved the recent MACHINE HEAD albums then this will be right up their alley. It is a lot more based in the modern metal genre along the lines of bands like FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH compared to the groove or nu-metal days of the earlier years, but perhaps that is for the best. For its time, albums like ‘Supercharger’ were a completely new direction for MACHINE HEAD, but not very well liked. Similarly, ‘The Blackening’ was a new direction as well. But fans seemed a lot more satisfied with its mix of aggressive tracks and softer, mainstream moments. So, ‘Unto the Locust’ is just another step for MACHINE HEAD in creating some well versed, good old-fashioned crushing metal. It’s not a masterpiece, but damned close.


01. I Am Hell (Sonata in C#) - 8:25
02. Be Still and Know - 5:43
03. Locust - 7:36
04. This Is the End - 6:11
05. The Darkness Within - 6:27
06. Pearls For Swine - 7:19
07. Who We Are - 7:11


Adam Duce – Bass
Robb Flynn – Vocals, Guitar
Dave McClain – Drums
Phil Demmel – Guitar


Cover Picture

machinehead locust


Music: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9 / 10

Comments powered by CComment