Rating:
6.8
Machine Head - Unto The Locust
27 September 2011


01. I Am Hell (Sonata In C#)
    1 - Sangre Sani
    2 - I Am Hell
    3 - Ashes To The Sky
02. Be Still And Know
03. Locust
04. This Is The End
05. Darkness Within
06. Pearls Before The Swine
07. Who We Are
08. The Sentinel [Judas Priest cover] [Special edition bonus]
09. Witch Hunt [Rush cover] [Special edition bonus]
10. Darkness Within [Acoustic version] [Special edition bonus]
+ The Making Of Unto The Locust [Documentary DVD] [Special edition bonus]


When a band reaches the peak of their career, one of two options present themselves. They can either continue on the path of their career-peaking work, or try something new, in a different direction. In the latter case, more often than not, a shift in direction doesn't work out as well as the band planned. After Coma Of Souls, Kreator embarked on an experimentation with a more industrial sound, to a not-too-enthusiastic response from their fanbase. The same cases can be seen with Megadeth after Rust In Peace, Metallica after And Justice For All, and so on. The Blackening was (arguably) the peak album of Machine Head's career, and on the follow up, 2011's Unto The Locust, the band went with the second option: a change in sound. And while I wasn't expecting The Blackening, Volume 2, I must say that said sound change comes as a bit of a disappointment.

Unto the Locust begins with "I Am Hell," in my opinion the strongest and most cleverly multi-layered track on the album. It starts with some very interesting, almost operatic, vocal harmonies, before transitioning into a "groovy" guitar part and then into the main, quite aggressive part of the song. The intense energy of the first track continues with "Be Still And Know", with a very well-executed solo by Phil Demmel, and the title track "Locust." But these first three tracks come across (at least to me) as a bit deceiving, because after this, that's all folks, and the main highlights of the album are pretty much over.

What follows after "Locust" is basic generic groove thrash with a focus shifted onto more melodic clean vocals than Rob Flynn's regular snarling style, as well as some more melodic, "relaxed" passages (see "Darkness Within"). At times, this change in vocal style sounds quite (dare I say it?) metalcore-ish, which came as a bit of a turn off to me. This may be a bold claim, but when one takes into consideration the bands that Machine Head toured with in support of this album (Bring Me The Horizon and Darkest Hour), it really isn't. For the most part, the album retains its groove thrash core, but the flickers here and there of a possible transition to a more mainstream-metal sound aren't too promising.

To put it simply, Unto the Locust has some great moments among a lot of dismissible ones. The first three tracks are pretty powerful, and in general, Phil Demmel's guitar work all over the album is, as usual, quite impressive. But there's still something missing, something that was there on the The Blackening that is here on this album to a much lesser degree, if at all. Perhaps it's the fact that Unto The Locust comes across as a lot more mellow, a fact that may please some fans, and disappoint others. Regardless, I still respect Machine Head for attempting a different musical direction, even if I'm overall not pleased with the result of it. Yet whether they'll redeem themselves with their next release, or continue with this new, more accessible sound has yet to be seen.

Performance: 7
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 7


Band profile: Machine Head
Album: Unto The Locust


 


written by Apothecary | 18.01.2012


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Guest review by
AndMetalForAll

Rating:
7.2
I had big expectations for this album before the release but I must say I was a bit disappointed. After the 10 given by a famous musical entity I was expecting a mindblowing skull-crushing comeback album. Machine Head have been through a lot this last couple of years and most of that due to lack of direction in their musical style.

Read more ››
published 02.01.2012 | Comments (8)

Guest review by
PhantomLord21

Rating:
8.5
Machine Head, the current band of former Vio-lence and Forbidden guitarist Robb Flynn, need no real introduction to most fans of thrash metal. Yet it is amazing how many people seem prepared to assume that all they've released that is worth listening to is Burn My Eyes/i] and/or The Blackening. I feel pretty differently: I honestly find Burn My Eyes unimpressive (admittedly, that may be due to me not being a fan of groove metal) and found The Blackening overly long, suffering from the usual problems I have with progressive music (namely, a fondness of writing unnecessarily long music that seems more intended to show off the musicians' skills rather than write something that an audience can enjoy listening to). I do not deny that they are good albums, merely that I do not agree when people refer to them as Machine Head's best albums. By contrast, I consider Unto The Locust to be their best album and one of the best albums of 2011: high praise indeed, considering it was an impulse buy for me for a band I'd never heard of.

Read more ››
published 18.09.2012 | Comments (3)



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Apothecary - 18.01.2012 at 16:44  
Just a little disclaimer for people reading my review. Please focus on the REVIEW, and not the rating. I'm not saying that the album is shit, just that the band's change in sound didn't really meet my expectations. A 6.8 is my way of conveying that the album is a bit above average, but is missing something that makes it fall short of being a "good" album. Thank you.
Lit. - 18.01.2012 at 17:32  
How can this album possibly be accessible? Burn My Eyes was more accessible than this.
This review is worst than the first one.
Apothecary - 18.01.2012 at 17:43  
Written by Lit. on 18.01.2012 at 17:32

How can this album possibly be accessible? Burn My Eyes was more accessible than this.
This review is worst than the first one.

Burn My Eyes was an excellent piece of violent 90s groove thrash, easily in the same category as Pantera or Chaos A.D.-era Sepultura.
One of the beauties of music, my friend: the many interpretations that can stem from it. If you're going to argue your point intelligently, with details to back up your points, then by all means do so. If, however, you're just going to make empty claims ("This review is worst than the first one," "Burn My Eyes was more accessible than this") without any explanation to vouch for the points you're trying to make, then please: don't waste your time.
Lit. - 18.01.2012 at 18:03  
Written by Apothecary on 18.01.2012 at 17:43

Written by Lit. on 18.01.2012 at 17:32

How can this album possibly be accessible? Burn My Eyes was more accessible than this.
This review is worst than the first one.

Burn My Eyes was an excellent piece of violent 90s groove thrash, easily in the same category as Pantera or Chaos A.D.-era Sepultura.
One of the beauties of music, my friend: the many interpretations that can stem from it. If you're going to argue your point intelligently, with details to back up your points, then by all means do so. If, however, you're just going to make empty claims ("This review is worst than the first one," "Burn My Eyes was more accessible than this") without any explanation to vouch for the points you're trying to make, then please: don't waste your time.

You misread. I do indeed think Burn My Eyes is a fantastic album. I meant it as the fact that Burn My Eyes had lyrics like "White attack black, black attack back/
the fuckin' media keeps us all blind blind/Children on crack, junkies on smack/you wanna close your eyes to hide hide" Yet I'd still consider it more accessible than Unto The Locust.
I stand by by second opinion, though. Both reviews for this album look merely like whining. The first review because it wasn't as good as the Blackening, which was absolutetly expected. The second because... Well, main;y due to the fact you actually called it an "accessible Thrashcore album with too much experimentation." That's a laughable act in itself.
Good enough details for you?
Apothecary - 18.01.2012 at 18:43  
Written by Lit. on 18.01.2012 at 18:03

Written by Apothecary on 18.01.2012 at 17:43

Written by Lit. on 18.01.2012 at 17:32

How can this album possibly be accessible? Burn My Eyes was more accessible than this.
This review is worst than the first one.

Burn My Eyes was an excellent piece of violent 90s groove thrash, easily in the same category as Pantera or Chaos A.D.-era Sepultura.
One of the beauties of music, my friend: the many interpretations that can stem from it. If you're going to argue your point intelligently, with details to back up your points, then by all means do so. If, however, you're just going to make empty claims ("This review is worst than the first one," "Burn My Eyes was more accessible than this") without any explanation to vouch for the points you're trying to make, then please: don't waste your time.

You misread. I do indeed think Burn My Eyes is a fantastic album. I meant it as the fact that Burn My Eyes had lyrics like "White attack black, black attack back/
the fuckin' media keeps us all blind blind/Children on crack, junkies on smack/you wanna close your eyes to hide hide" Yet I'd still consider it more accessible than Unto The Locust.
I stand by by second opinion, though. Both reviews for this album look merely like whining. The first review because it wasn't as good as the Blackening, which was absolutetly expected. The second because... Well, main;y due to the fact you actually called it an "accessible Thrashcore album with too much experimentation." That's a laughable act in itself.
Good enough details for you?

You misread as well. Nowhere did I call it a thrashcore album, nor did I say it had too much experimentation. I praised the aggressive nature of the first half of the album, as well as Phil Demmel's guitar work. What I did say is that the vocals COME ACROSS as a bit metalcore-ish, and that while I didn't particularly care for their experimentation on the album's latter half, I still respect them for trying something different. And whining? Just because I don't think an album is absolutely mindblowing, and express my opinion as such, does not mean that I am whining, good sir.
By the way, I get what you mean about Burn My Eyes now. Thanks for clearing that up.
Butters49 - 18.01.2012 at 19:01  
I agree with almost everything in this review
Marcel Hubregtse - 18.01.2012 at 19:31  
Little correction Machine Head reached their peak with their Burn My Eyes not with the horribly overrated The Blackening
Nergal Is God - 18.01.2012 at 19:52  
I agree with the first three songs being the best. But, I feel the last song, "Who We Are" is quite strong. Yeah, the kids singing in it is cheesy, but the song as a whole is pretty excellent. It's got some awesome thrash riffs, and the Iron Maiden-esque duel solo is great. However, the lyrics of the song are what I think really captured it. I like how it's a more positive message behind it, and that it's basically saying "Yeah, I'm a metal head, fuck you." I thought that was really awesome on Robb's behalf. Tracks 4, 5, and 6 maybe a little iffy, but I think the rest of the album is really good.
thehondo - 18.01.2012 at 23:58  
I think we all knew it would be tough to match The Blackening. Also, good artist are gonna try something different each time out, otherwise, they'll grow stagnant and fans will see,feel and hear that.
Apothecary - 19.01.2012 at 00:50  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 18.01.2012 at 19:31

Little correction Machine Head reached their peak with their Burn My Eyes not with the horribly overrated The Blackening

I do agree that The Blackening is a bit overrated, but it still is an awesome album (just like how Master Of Puppets is overrated, but still great). I say that it's the peak of their career because I think it represents a fusion of everything the band experimented with up to that point. The raw agression of Burn My Eyes is there, but then so is the slightly relaxed feel of some of their later material.
Troy Killjoy - 19.01.2012 at 01:05  
Written by Apothecary on 18.01.2012 at 16:44
Please focus on the REVIEW, and not the rating.

Only 6.8?!
Apothecary - 19.01.2012 at 02:15  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 19.01.2012 at 01:05

Written by Apothecary on 18.01.2012 at 16:44
Please focus on the REVIEW, and not the rating.

Only 6.8?!

As I said in that little disclaimer, it is my way of conveying that the album is above average, but still lacking something that (in my eyes) would make it a good album.
pisymbol - 19.01.2012 at 05:08  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 19.01.2012 at 01:05

Written by Apothecary on 18.01.2012 at 16:44
Please focus on the REVIEW, and not the rating.

Only 6.8?!


I'm sorry but rarely do I say this....sorry no way is this album a 6.8. Minimally its a 7.5 and most likely an 8i. I thought Machine Head did a solid job on delivering on their core aesthetic. I have no idea why the reviewer thinks the sound has changed that much because to my ears, it really hasn't. Locust is a natural extension to the Blackened in pretty much every way (and practically the entire Internet agrees with me but to each his own).
Troy Killjoy - 19.01.2012 at 05:14  
Written by pisymbol on 19.01.2012 at 05:08
...

I was only joking in response to his little disclaimer but I actually personally rated this a 6.5, and The Blackening I'd give a 7.

I agree with your assessment that the two albums aren't all that dissimilar though.
pisymbol - 19.01.2012 at 14:45  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 19.01.2012 at 05:14

Written by pisymbol on 19.01.2012 at 05:08
...

I was only joking in response to his little disclaimer but I actually personally rated this a 6.5, and The Blackening I'd give a 7.

I agree with your assessment that the two albums aren't all that dissimilar though.


If you loved the Blackening (personally I thought it was a wonderful modern American metal release), then Locust is just an outgrowth of that, i.e. it delivered as promised.

I think after a further listen its a 7.5 while Blackening is an 8.

EDIT: I can see why you would give these albums a point lower I think (I want to guess for fun):

They are very repetitive. Each track is basically the same formula which they didn't even invent. What makes Locust a bit more frustrating than the Blackening is that they did try to sprinkle in some progressive elements but for the most part they don't work. From the children singing to the acoustic solos, they just comes off as cheap production techniques to try to vary their sound: stale croutons on an already bland salad.
Finally, its a small salad with less than 10 tracks.

With all of this said, if someone new to metal wanted a modern album of straight up good wholesome American inspired heavy metal....ain't nothing wrong with Machine Head....my 2 cents...
PhantomLord21 - 20.01.2012 at 03:06  
As a famous person (can't remember which one, though) once said, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it". I respect that this is your opinion and I have no right to say "I am right, you are wrong", but I would like to point out some of my biggest disagreements with your review.

I find that you may be being a bit harsh on the fourth and fifth tracks: I find them just as good as, if not better than, the first three tracks. The fourth track is, admittedly, kinda catchy (I still find myself singing the chorus absentmindedly) and takes a bit of time to really start to show the quality behind it, but it still is heavy enough that you don't feel too guilty about it and the fifth adds variety in the same manner as "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" from Master of Puppets, which may seem out of place, but stops the album from being a one dimensional one. The sixth track, honestly, I can't remember at all and the last one, once you get past the children's choir, is pretty good, although I don't listen to it too much due to the children's choir usually putting me off it before it really starts to get interesting.

Robb Fynn having metalcore sounding vocals on this album is not really that new: from what I've heard, he has swapped between shouted vocals and clean vocals quite a few times in the past. Also, to the uninitiated (which does include me), his shouted vocals could be mistaken for metalcore vocals anyway. The fact you mention it being a major issue for you in tracks four to seven does seem a bit strange with that in mind, but it might be possible I'm missing something you meant to say, so I'll not go on about that.

Having recently listened to The Blackening, I do admit that something from that album is lacking on this one, but, at the same time, I find that the songs on The Blackening have a habit of going on a bit too long. None of the songs on this album really do that, so I consider it a fair payoff to make. Having said that, I do understand why some people might not consider this a fair payoff, so I'll just agree to disagree with you there.

I fail to hear how this is noticeably different from The Blackening. Maybe you could enlighten me on this subject, as all I hear that is really different is the children's choir and the fact that "Darkness Within" is kind of like a ballad.

Those are my biggest disagreements with your review. However, I respect your opinion on the album and enjoyed reading your review, so don't take what I've said as meaning your review is bad: I found it very well written and interesting (especially your first paragraph) and I agree with everything else you mentioned.
Apothecary - 20.01.2012 at 16:03  
Written by PhantomLord21 on 20.01.2012 at 03:06

As a famous person (can't remember which one, though) once said, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it". I respect that this is your opinion and I have no right to say "I am right, you are wrong", but I would like to point out some of my biggest disagreements with your review.

I find that you may be being a bit harsh on the fourth and fifth tracks: I find them just as good as, if not better than, the first three tracks. The fourth track is, admittedly, kinda catchy (I still find myself singing the chorus absentmindedly) and takes a bit of time to really start to show the quality behind it, but it still is heavy enough that you don't feel too guilty about it and the fifth adds variety in the same manner as "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" from Master of Puppets, which may seem out of place, but stops the album from being a one dimensional one. The sixth track, honestly, I can't remember at all and the last one, once you get past the children's choir, is pretty good, although I don't listen to it too much due to the children's choir usually putting me off it before it really starts to get interesting.

Robb Fynn having metalcore sounding vocals on this album is not really that new: from what I've heard, he has swapped between shouted vocals and clean vocals quite a few times in the past. Also, to the uninitiated (which does include me), his shouted vocals could be mistaken for metalcore vocals anyway. The fact you mention it being a major issue for you in tracks four to seven does seem a bit strange with that in mind, but it might be possible I'm missing something you meant to say, so I'll not go on about that.

Having recently listened to The Blackening, I do admit that something from that album is lacking on this one, but, at the same time, I find that the songs on The Blackening have a habit of going on a bit too long. None of the songs on this album really do that, so I consider it a fair payoff to make. Having said that, I do understand why some people might not consider this a fair payoff, so I'll just agree to disagree with you there.

I fail to hear how this is noticeably different from The Blackening. Maybe you could enlighten me on this subject, as all I hear that is really different is the children's choir and the fact that "Darkness Within" is kind of like a ballad.

Those are my biggest disagreements with your review. However, I respect your opinion on the album and enjoyed reading your review, so don't take what I've said as meaning your review is bad: I found it very well written and interesting (especially your first paragraph) and I agree with everything else you mentioned.

Thanks man. I appreciate people like you, who can argue a differing opinion without losing their heads. I think it's different from The Blackening just in its overall sound. I honestly can't put it any better than that. It just sounds a little more relaxed to me, the riffs aren't as harsh, or something.
BoxCar Willy - 20.01.2012 at 18:51  
There are lots of long posts here
Cynic Metalhead - 21.01.2012 at 09:51  
Written by BoxCar Willy on 20.01.2012 at 18:51

There are lots of long posts here

....ending it up like an fucking dissertation on something. Anyways, this album will make its room near The Blackening and is very exhaustive stuff. Great vocals but weak bass compare to their last output. Expectation was much higher and I think in between some of the songs were boring and too stretchable.
Lit. - 28.01.2012 at 17:59  
Written by PhantomLord21 on 20.01.2012 at 03:06

As a famous person (can't remember which one, though) once said, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it".


That was Everyn Beatrice Hall, I believe. The one who wrote the biography of Voltaire.
I_Die_Often - 15.12.2012 at 03:10  
I got a kick out of hearing Witch Hunt, that's on of my favorite Rush songs.

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