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Metal is the music of the outcast, the rebel and the steely-eyed foot soldier. Its principles, values and atavistic power have made life worth living for millions over the last four decades and its inherent artistry continues to ensure that declaring oneself a metalhead is an act of intense, unerring pride. But every worthwhile musical subculture needs its heroes; its standard bearers and pugilistic defenders. For the last 20 years, MACHINE HEAD have flown the flag for truth, integrity and creative desire in metal, starting with the earth-shattering prescience of 1994’s classic Burn My Eyes and continuing through a series of albums that consistently redefined the very notion of heaviness and music while upholding an invigorating lyrical narrative that has turned the band into one of the few in modern times that can boast an unbreakable connection with the hearts and minds of the metal faithful.
Led by singer and guitarist Robb Flynn, MACHINE HEAD haven’t just pioneered their own unmistakable take on the metal blueprint – they have towered above the competition with a ruthless determination and dedication to the cause, via some of the most life-affirming music ever committed to tape. And since the band’s glorious rebirth for 2003’s Through The Ashes Of Empires, they have repeatedly upped the ante, both for their own artistic urges and for the entire metal world. Both 2007’s universally worshipped The Blackening, which saw the band doggedly pursue a superhuman touring schedule for more than four years, and its fiendishly intricate follow-up, 2011’s Unto The Locust, have emboldened the notion that MACHINE HEAD are simply a force of nature and the living, screaming embodiment of everything that heavy music deigns to represent.
For a band with less integrity and fire than MACHINE HEAD, the success and acclaim afforded to both The Blackening and Unto The Locust could easily have led to complacency and the decision to repeat proven triumphant formulae, but Robb Flynn and his comrades have never rested on their laurels or been satisfied with repeating themselves. Instead, the band’s eighth studio album once again demonstrates how powerful, creative and unstoppable MACHINE HEAD have become during the 20 years since the release of their debut album Burn My Eyes. A fearless, ferocious and endlessly inventive masterpiece that delivers everything that diehard fans of the band will demand, while taking its creators into fascinating and explosive new territory, Bloodstone & Diamonds exudes a confidence that comes from the knowledge that MACHINE HEAD are now operating at the absolute peak of their collective powers.
Once again recorded at Jingletown Studios and Trident Studios in California, and produced by Robb Flynn in collaboration with engineer Juan Urteaga, and masterfully mixed by long-time partners-in-crime Colin Richardson and Andy Sneap Bloodstone & Diamonds is a sprawling monument to state-of-the-art heaviness and the fearsome, idiosyncratic vision of its protagonists. Erupting into vivid life with the towering riff barrage of unanimously praised opener “Now We Die” and the crushing turbo-thrash of established MACHINE HEAD live favourite “Killers And Kings”, this is the perfect and indisputable antidote to the modern metal scene’s hordes of identikit journeymen. Songs like the lithe, subtly complex “Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones” and the impassioned sociological tirade of “In Comes The Flood” represent a sublime refinement of the MACHINE HEAD sound, replete with all the down-tuned, harmonic-filled, flesh-flaying riffs and moments of intense dynamic potency that have long been a hallmark of the band’s sound. From the ten ton groove attack of the ominous “Beneath The Silt” and the swivel-eyed fury of the Manson-inspired “Night Of The Long Knives” through to the insanely epic funeral march of “Sail Into The Black” and “Game Over’s” rampaging tsunami of lyrical vitriol and hardcore punk hostility, Bloodstone & Diamonds obliterates any notion that veteran bands can’t sustain their passion and intensity while also setting a new standard for sonic destruction and virility along the way.
These songs are destined to be roared to the rafters by the MACHINE HEAD faithful as the band tirelessly traverse the globe over the next couple of years, strengthening the unique connection they have with their army of fervent admirers. This is MACHINE HEAD in 2014: bigger, better, stronger, heavier and utterly unassailable.