Thinking about Machine Head, I must admit that during the last years, and since their last couple of records, my approach towards the band was a bit skeptical, a bit hesitant. This happens, not because I didn’t like those. On the contrary, I believe they are decent ones, even though they lack this sparkle of inspiration, throttle and power of previous releases. Reaching such heights as with “The Blackening”, it would be hard to match that one. So, here comes “Catharsis”, a new record which is 100% Machine Head and represents the trademark attitude of the band. Not the attitude you think or assume they have, but the attitude its members want to pass outside.

Honest this band has been throughout the years. Honest to the fans, to themselves, to the work they present us each time they release a new album. The songs have been smaller in duration, more melodic in many ways. There is a mood to play a little bit with experimentation and trying out diverse ways to sound, or even the typical Machine Head groove is presented in a different, a bit less heavy way. Personally, I have been a huge fan of “Burn My Eyes” and also “The More Things change”, but I can understand that the band cannot sound the same, cannot repeat the same ideas again and again. Of course, this creates a controversy, a dichotomy among their fans, the core fans and the ones who like the band in a more open-minded way. Both sides are ok and fine, as everything is a matter of taste above all. Examples of this argument are songs like “Bastards”, “Behind a Mask” or “Kaleidoscope”, where Robb Flynn shows us another side of himself, both singing and songwriting-wise, having lots of harmonies, melody tones, acoustic guitars, etc. which empowers the direction and the determination of himself to arrange things on his own personal/trademark way. Of course, the heavy and thick guitar riffs or cemented-like groove are here. For good. “Heavy Lies the Crown” is among the ones standing out, with long duration, catchy flow and emphatic lyrics. A truly remarkable song. Machine Head and Robb Flynn always do things in a decisive and definitive way. This one (song) has it all in almost nine minutes. Dave Mc Clain, one my favorite drummers, gives it all one more time.

Following the departure of Adam Deuce in 2013, Machine Head has taken things on a different route than the one we got them used to. A route of trying different things at a time, always changing but staying the exact same, preserving the same DNA. Oakland CA, but also, the rest of the world, are proud of them. Make no mistake: it always depends on which side(s) of the same coin you would like to see. Choose your side. Choose your perspective.

♦ 7/10

Antonis Mantzavinos