Machine Head – Bloodstone & Diamonds (Nuclear Blast 2013)

To me there is something unfulfilled in the music and at first listen I didn’t really get it. The album is a heavy album, the music is punishing and in your face. I guess the variety on the record is both its strength and its weakness. It gives you a wide variety of listening experiences, everything from orchestral, classically structured pieces (Now We Die), to heavy metal extravaganza (Killers & Kings), to beautiful melodies (Imaginal Cells) and Dio-like heavy metal (Night of the Long Knifes).

Game Over and Sail Into the Black are maybe my favorite songs on the album. Game Over has this grueling, angsty feel through the verse which rips into some heavy brutality on the chorus. The vocals are absolutely amazing on this track. Sail Into the Black are Machine Heads take on Planet Caravan in many ways. It’s a slow, melodic piece that relies on feel on a slow flow more than groove.

I think that it’s in the slower numbers that the true heaviness of this album really lies. Beneath the Silt is so jaw droppingly heavy. Might not sound that way at first listen, but when you get into it, the riffs, melodies and lyrics are heavy as a midlife crises.

I think Flynn and the boys have a way of always being on the cusp of what’s modern without sounding like they’re trying to be. They’re always balancing between the sound of classic heavy metal, groove metal and this new modern sound. To me this help to keep them “current” but also keeps reminding me that Robb Flynn came out of the thrash movement and Machine Head made its name in groove metal. All these feels are apparent on Bloodstone &Diamonds.

All flattery aside, there is something unfulfilled on this record, I believe it could have been more than it is. Everything is slightly lacking, I can’t quite put my finger on it. Machine Head is lacking that x-factor thing they do live on their studio albums. In some way that is as it should be, a live show should be better than a studio record, otherwise what’s the point of the live show? If somebody could capture that magic that Machine Head has live on a record, that record would be unstoppable.

Recommended downloads: Game Over, Now We Die, Killers & Kings, Beneath the Silt

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