Machine Head – Catharsis (2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 01:14:18 minutes | 896 MB | Genre: Rock, Metal
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Booklet, Front Cover | © Nuclear Blast
9th studio album by US Groove Metal Masters. 2nd Album on Nuclear Blast. Offering vast quantities of style and substance, Catharsis is a 75-minute, 15-track eruption of pain and fury, hope and joy, melody and savagery. By far the most hard-hitting album Machine Head have ever made, both musically and lyrically, it sustains their long tradition of writing songs about the real world and the authentic, heartfelt emotions that define the human condition.
Machine Head’s twenty-six year journey has been anything but smooth sailing. In 1994, with Burn My Eyes, one of the best albums in the history of heavy metal, pundits predicted a bright future for them. But at the end of their first world tour, internal problems broke their momentum. Between the album’s revisions and singer-guitarist Rob Flynn’s startling experiments, and the unstable character of the group, people started seeing MH as a basket case. Worst of all, even today, very few believe that the group has equalled or surpassed its first output. And that is a cruel injustice. After a bracing, but less-surprising, Bloodstone & Diamonds, this Catharsis risks dividing opinion yet again. With a running time of over an hour and fifteen minutes, the record demands that the listener give up a fair bit of their spare time, and it is not a record written for instant gratification. If long standing fans had had a fright when the surprising single Is There Anybody Out There ? came out in 2016 (not included here), it didn’t signal any kind of radical change, even if it prefigured some of the experiments on Catharsis.
A few numbers, like Psychotic, Grind You Down and Razorblade Smile will seem a little less bewildering, as they come close to some of Slipknot’s more accessible output. Volatile’s staggering opening will not upset anyone whose tolerance stretches as far as Avenged Sevenfold, Trivium, or Five Finger Death Punch. Just as with California Bleeding and its festive feel, and Stone Sour’s Suicidal Tendencies matinée. But the rest of the album gets a lot more complicated. With a whiff of Linkin Park or Limp Bizkit, Triple Beam and Bastards seem like a desperate effort to rehabilitate Supercharger. The song alternates starkly between the brutal (Slipknot, again), banks of synths and ultra-melodic choruses. If Beyond the Pale or Hope Begets Hope follow in the same direction, they will be less likely to offend metal sensibilities, as the more nuanced passages are worked in more subtly, with less in the way of “special” effects on the vocals and very heavy, old-school instrumental sections. On the other hand, Kaleidoscope will also surprise, with a harmonious, if improbable marriage of Pantera and Papa Roach. The sophisticated Heavy Lies the Crown, brings us into uncharted territory, the progressive influences of Opeth are clearly marked, while its theatrical aspect evokes Tenacious D. MH continues in this disorienting vein with Screaming at the Sun, switching from flights in the style of Alice In Chains and metal sallies of the Killswitch Engage. After that, the pure ballad Behind a Mask and its acoustic arpeggios will not come as a shock, even if it is closer to Tool or Nine Inch Nails. And Trent Reznor’s voice seems to also appear on the tender Eulogy which closes the album. The well-named Catharsis is an album where MH once again defy expectations, to give free rein to their desires. A kind of guilty pleasure which is likely to divide opinion.
01 – Volatile
02 – Catharsis
03 – Beyond the Pale
04 – California Bleeding
05 – Triple Beam
06 – Kaleidoscope
07 – Bastards
08 – Hope Begets Hope
09 – Screaming at the Sun
10 – Behind a Mask
11 – Heavy Lies the Crown
12 – Psychotic
13 – Grind You Down
14 – Razorblade Smile
15 – Eulogy
Produced by Robb Flynn & Zack Ohren.
Recorded at Sharkbite Studios, Oakland, CA.
Robb Flynn – lead vocals, guitar
Phil Demmel – guitar, backing vocals
Jared MacEachern – bass, backing vocals
Dave McClain – drums, percussion