Oh no! Machine Head showed a little diversity in their sound again, so they’re a sell out Nu-Metal poser rip off ‘core trendy band!
Or. Machine Head dropped a new Machine Head album, that has a little something from their 8 previous albums, with a couple surprises sprinkled in too.
Anytime they release something new, there’s a buzz. This buzz was something different though. This was seemingly getting shit on by everybody even before a single was dropped, because Robb Flynn said it wasn’t going to be as heavy.
Look, Robb can be a cheese. Yes. He can get caught up in his own cheese. Yes. Machine Head has had a couple cheese moments. Yes. You know what they did with that cheese? They wore it with confidence. Of course fans will have differing opinions on those moments, and this album will be no different.
I like to see bands take unexpected paths. Even if it’s not amazing, I feel it’s necessary for every band to make a left turn somewhere.
In general, “Catharsis” is a standard Machine Head album. Does it have more in common with 1999’s “The Burning Red”, and 2001’s “Supercharger” than their 1994 debut “Burn My Eyes” or 2007’s “The Blackening”? Eh, really, I’d say it’s the link between the those. It IS their most diverse offering to date, that can be said. It isn’t their best ever. It isn’t their worst ever (even their worst ever is still pretty damn good, in my opinion). This is why I say it’s a standard Machine Head album overall, where they happened to drop a couple extra “whoa, what is this??” in the middle of it.
Put it this way. I don’t think they’ve necessarily lost or gained any fans from it. A “folk” song isn’t going to drop your fanbase. Anyone who declares the band dead after something so trivial wasn’t really a fan to begin with.
It may not be another homerun in their belt, but it ain’t the shitshow people made it out to be either.
Let’s break down the 15 songs from “Catharsis” into typical MH category, and the different category.
“Volatile”, “Catharsis”, “Beyond the Pale”, “Kaleidoscope”, “Hope Begets Hope”, “Screaming at the Sun”, “Heavy Lies the Crown”, “Psychotic”, “Grind You Down”, “Razorblade Smile”
“California Bleeding”, “Triple Beam”, “Bastards”, “Behind a Mask”, “Eulogy”
Now, let’s take the 5 songs from the different category. Musically, “California Bleeding” is standard, but lyrically it may be their cheesiest song to date. “Behind a Mask” and “Eulogy” are just a very soft, quiet Machine Head, and they’ve done that in the past, so those get excluded too. “Triple Beam” is 1999 territory, if you know what I mean. Then there’s the aforementioned folk song, “Bastards”. It’s a new flavor for them, but not mind-blowingly different, and as long as it’s only done once, it’s a refreshing addition. So “Triple Beam” is really the one song that would turn off many fans, and the bad lyrics of “California Bleeding”. 2 songs out of 15 means it’s a bad album?? You have 13 other songs that are worthy to any Machine Head fan’s collection.
I took a couple months to let this release settle in to everyone, and so I could digest why there was a lame backlash to this. I understand the negatives. I do. Problem is, there’s just not that many negatives here. Skip a couple songs you don’t like, and enjoy what you do like. Isn’t that how it works anyway?
Reviewed by Marcus Miller