ALBUM REVIEWS

MACHINE HEAD – “Catharsis” (2018)

machine-head-catharsis-review-2018
Written by Jovan Ristić

MACHINE HEAD
“Catharsis”

Nü Metal
(Nuclear Blast, 2018)

There are some definite standouts in “Screaming at the Sun” or “Heavy Lies the Crown”. Still, even in its brightest moments, the songs sound like “The Blackening” B-sides.

When Avenged Sevenfold put out “Hail to the King”, Rob Flynn was the first who bravely stood up to point out certain… let’s say borrowed ideas on that album. It did strike me as a bit ironic for a guy who’s been bending over to trends his entire career. When Pantera was the talk of the town, Machine Head was close behind with “Burn My Eyes”. When nü metal rekindled the commercial interest in the genre again, we got “The Burning Red”. With the turn of the millennium the band got into its metalcore phase that brought us a couple of solid efforts, until the band got fed up. Then we got “Catharsis”.

When Flynn announced the band would be taking a turn on the new album, I couldn’t help but think what trend he would latch on to next. My first hint was the unconvincing “Fuck the world” spoken with the angst of a whiny teenager who didn’t get his allowance in “Volatile”, an overt Slipknot rip-off. Nü lamps for old.

For some reason, the band decided that the best direction for them is two steps back into the phase that many hated them for in the first place. “Catharsis” is the missing link between “The Burning Red” and “Through the Ashes of Empires”, not counting “Supercharger” (which we don’t anyway). You can hear some new influences throughout the album as well. The album definitely has a slightly stronger punk and hardcore edge. They also borrowed a couple of the cheesiest tricks from the Five Finger Death Punch book in “Bastards”, a song the Internet loved to hate. And let’s not forget the Dropkick Murhpys ending of the same song or the cringe-worthy Kid Rock impersonation in “Triple Beam”.

To be honest, the album is not quite unbearable. In fact, much of its appeal comes from its energy. I had a harder time listening through “Bloodstone & Diamonds” in one go than I had with “Catharsis”. There are some definite standouts in “Screaming at the Sun” or “Heavy Lies the Crown”. Still, even in its brightest moments, the songs sound like “The Blackening” B-sides. And for every decent song, there are three more dragging the overall impression down.

Let’s not forget those lyrics. I don’t usually pay too much attention to the lyrics or even read them without a booklet in my hands, but I haven’t felt this much fremdschämen for quite some time. As Rob Flynn tells you about the struggles of ghetto drug dealers (ripping a page from the Body Count manual) or sounds like an angsty teenager, fremdschämen is all you can feel. The lyrics aren’t bad per se, but for the most part they sound insincere and forced, meant to hook a different audience.

“I got a razor blade smile and a cocaine tongue,
I got a boner for miles, I’m slinging loads for fun…”

Really?

But the ideology, lyrics or the return to nü metal are not this album’s main drawbacks. The main problem lies in the shallow material you won’t be eager to listen to more than a couple of times you were willing to spare to give “Catharsis” a fair shot. The album sounds unconvincing and inappropriate for a band of their stature. Like an old dude trying to rock the spiky hair with frosted tips. It doesn’t fit you anymore pal. There’s a time for that, and yours is long gone.

Written by Jovan Ristić

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There are some definite standouts in “Screaming at the Sun” or “Heavy Lies the Crown”. Still, even in its brightest moments, the songs sound like “The Blackening” B-sides.

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