Say what you will about MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn, but he sure keeps things interesting in the months, weeks, and days leading up to an album release. His weekly posts in The General Journals through the band’s Facebook page are also great, whether you agree with his points of view or not, simply because it’s honest, raw, and he leaves it all out there, knowing full well a shit-storm from internet trolls is likely a-comin’. I can honestly say that I’m a fan of most of what this band does, with The Blackening being a high watermark in their career. So now they’ve signed with Nuclear Blast Records who released new opus Bloodstone & Diamonds recently. So how is it? Let’s find out.
The opening track “Now We Die” is a seven minute-plus epic that sets the tone early on. First single “Killers & Kings” keeps that intensity rolling and the guitar work on this is some of the best on the record. Speaking of killer cuts, you can most definitely put “Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones” in that category, as it grinds along slowly but surely, stalking the listener and begging them to come out and play before taking off at a gallop in the latter half. The beginning of “Night of Long Knives” is a bit abrasive, but the song settles into a groove and ends up in a thrash with a smattering of punk zone for a large portion, then turns on a dime and gets intensely melodic, making it one of the album’s best from the very first spin. The guitar duo of Flynn and Phil Demmel has come up with some extraordinary rhythms and solos this time around, particularly on this number.
The chanting intro for “Sail Into the Black” coupled with an ominous acoustic guitar and Flynn singing very softly is something completely different and for the most part it works. It could have been trimmed down some so as to get to the meat and potatoes of the song a little quicker. The solo is top-notch though, ripping right through you as it goes. “Eyes of the Dead” is fairly aggressive and growly, Flynn sounding as pissed as ever. I really dug the groove to this one. Another strong cut is “Beneath the Silt” sounding unlike anything else on the record and having a dirty, watery feel to it, which made me come back to it again and again. “In Comes the Flood” is the third track to come in at over seven minutes long, this one replete with choir and orchestrations early on. Uhhhh…what? Relax, it’s fine. The band is really spreading their wings and taking some chances with this record and I applaud them for it, and when all is said and done this is a great song.
Speaking of great songs “Game Over” is a riff-tastic, venomous affair that is a great backdrop for whatever outlet you use to take out your aggressions. A must-add to playlists for sure. My runaway favorite from this album is without a doubt “Take Me Through the Fire” though. It’s a perfect closer and listening to it I just wanna pound my chest while screaming into the night (Relax, I don’t do it…much). All told Bloodstone & Diamonds shows a MACHINE HEAD that’s pushing boundaries while managing to keep their signature sounds. These songs will fucking destroy live and I can’t wait for the tour!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Game Over”, “Take Me Through the Fire”, “Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones”, “Beneath the Silt”, “Night of Long Knives”