Review MACHINE HEAD ‘ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN’

When former Vio-lence guitarist Robb Flynn founded Machine Head in 1991, times were not the best for thrash metal. Death metal, grunge and nu-metal were emerging and slowly gaining momentum while 80’s thrash metal was on the decline. Machine Head, however, shattered these disadvantage with just one riff and everyone who has heard ‘Davidian’ knows what I am talking about.

Even if Machine Head can still be considered in the broadest sense of the thrash metal genre, Flynn and his band have discovered a much wider spectrum of sounds and made them their own. That you get hard riffs and massive grooves is well known. These basic cornerstones of the Machine Head sound have not changed over all the years, and you can find cross-references to the early works also on the new album ‘ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN’, for example in the aggressive last third of ‘NØ GØDs, NØ Masters’.

Besides a massive wall of riffs, however, the song also has the calmer parts as well as melodic moments. Both characterize the sound of Machine Head too and have been enhanced over the years.

Nevertheless, ‘ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN’ has become anything but his album of cuddly music. On the contrary. ‘ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN’ is a one-hour dystopian journey; a concept album dealing with two main characters. ‘ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN’ is a record with a story which takes place in a future wasteland. It is about two characters whose paths bloody cross in the course of the plot. Hereby it is not about the classic interpretation of ‘good’ versus ‘evil’. Rather, it is the connection between the two.

Photo: Paul Harris

Machine Head use the power of music to bring the story across credibly, which they succeed in doing. The whole turmoil of the protagonists become visible in the opener ‘Slaughter the Martyr’. The song, and with it the album, starts calm and dark. However, one feels how evil is rising on the horizon to break through after three minutes with full force. With a playing time of ten minutes Machine Head start with a monolith into the new album, which stands exemplary for the whole album.

Loneliness and despair is what ‘UnhallØWed’ reflects. It is an emotional outburst, which is kept a little calmer on the whole, but explodes in the middle part.

Fans of the furious riffs do not come up short either. To mention here is the super-fast ‘ChØKe ØN The Ashes ØF YØUr Hate’ where speed and ferocity are in the forefront. There is not much experimentation taking place here. Instead, it’s a brutal Machine Head song that shows that the band is capable of riding ruthless thrash metal attacks.

For the dramaturgy of the story, as well as for a good flow of the album, Machine Head have included two interludes. One of them is ‘Assimilate’, which is the prelude to the massive ‘Kill Thy Enemies’. The latter song is a bit slower than many of the other tracks. Groove is what is more in the spotlight and makes the song a slow but powerful highlight on the album.

To sum up. ‘ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN’ is the expected brachial next Machine Head album on which Robb Flynn and band show why they belong to the spearhead of contemporary thrash metal for a long time. Instead of just pushing the gas pedal, the quartet manages to present itself with musical brutality, complexity and variety. Maybe ‘ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN’ doesn’t ignite on the first listen, but it would be sacrilegious to give up right away. This album grows with every listen and after a few times you start to shout along with the chorus of ‘NØ GØDs, NØ Masters’.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Tracklist:

  1. Slaughter The Martyr
  2. ChØKe ØN The Ashes ØF YØUr Hate
  3. BecØMe The FirestØRm
  4. ØVerdØSe
  5. My Hands Are Empty
  6. UnhallØWed
  7. Assimilate
  8. Kill Thy Enemies
  9. NØ GØDs, NØ Masters
  10. BlØØDshØT
  11. RØTten
  12. Terminus
  13. ArrØWs In WØRds FrØM the Sky

Label: Nuclear Blast

Genre: Modern Thrash Metal

Release Date EU: August 26th, 2022

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