Overall Score: 10/10 Songs: 10/10 Production: 9/10 Replay Value: 10/10 Pros: A stunning return to form from a band hitting a new career high Cons: Virtually nothing
MACHINE HEAD is a fascinating band. A band that has generational appeal, who shot to prominence during the heyday of Roadrunner Records. They are arguably one of the most respected bands in heavy music. With that said, they have never been ones to make things easy for themselves. Their catalogue is littered with examples of albums that haven’t quite landed, and in some cases have threatened to derail the band entirely.
With that in mind, they should be respected for allowing themselves the confidence to throw out the rulebook and make whatever album they see fit at any given time. But it is also the reason why every MACHINE HEAD release is now met with as much trepidation as it is excitement.
In this instance, the pendulum will swing into the latter category. This is the most thrilling and urgent MACHINE HEAD has sounded in well over a decade.
ØF KINGDOM AND CRØWN is a swirling album of grandiose fury. It’s a concept album based on an idea Robb Flynn came up with while watching Attack On Titan. Even though it is a concept album it can be enjoyed as a standalone as well. SLAUGHTER THE MARTYR, the album’s 10 minute opening salvo is without question the best opening track in the band’s entire catalogue. It starts off serenely, but gives way to an avalanche of aggression that sets the pitch black tone for the rest of the album perfectly.
Elsewhere, cuts like CHØKE ØN THE ASHES ØF YØUR HATE and MY HANDS ARE EMPTY are colossal bruising anthems, the likes of which MACHINE HEAD can write in their sleep. NØ GØDS, NØ MASTERS is destined to become a huge live anthem with its seething lyrics taking aim at organised religion, it also has a chorus custom build for arenas and festivals.
BLØØDSHØT along with BECØME THE FIRESTØRM provide the album with doses of fist pumping adrenaline amongst the album’s heavier and darker moments. Reminding the listener that even in their more lengthy, progressive-leaning moments, MACHINE HEAD can still rip out short, snappy bangers at will.
ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN is an album that deserves to be experienced in full to be completely appreciated. My personal opinion is that too much of the album has been released out of context prior to release. With only four of the album’s full tracks not yet released, there are moments in those songs that work best in the context of the record but that is a minor quibble which does not diminish the quality of the songs in any discernible way.
This is a dark record which showcases MACHINE HEAD are not only capable of putting together a thematically rich and emotionally engaging narrative, but they also haven’t lost any of their edge. This album will put us through the ringer of human emotions and fans will feel like they could pull a mountain apart with their bare hands after listening to it.
It’s not always easy being a MACHINE HEAD fan and we never know what we’re going to get from one album to the next. As they prove time and time again; when they are on it and locked in they are untouchable. ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN is not only an instant MACHINE HEAD classic, it’s the year’s most essential metal album.
ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN releases August 26 via Nuclear Blast.
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