Now then: this is more like it. Whatever you thought of Unto The Locust, it certainly proved a more divisive offering than its predecessor, and while proclamations of Machine Head fluffing their lines are a bit misguided, there’s still arguably a fair amount riding on Bloodstone & Diamonds.
If that is the case, then rest assured: this is a damn fine Machine Head album, comfortably worthy of the beast that gave us The Blackening and Through The Ashes Of Empires over the last decade alone. Opening with a brief orchestral flurry and a Spartan-esque battle cry of ‘And with this now we dieeeee!’, opener Now We Die is everything that’s great about Machine Head in seven relentless minutes: gigantic, bollock-heavy riffs, grooves fit to give dinosaurs diarrhoea and those snarling, impassioned roars.
Killers & Kings comes next: a sharp, sub-five-minute thrasher that smartly fits the gap before the measured, weighty riffage of Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones slows things down nicely, layering those thick riffs with eerie, intricate melodies and a midsection that gives way to a particularly seething, hissing delivery from The Flynn. Night Of Long Knives is a bloodcurdling heavy metal take on the Manson Family murders that lyrically echoes Ozzy Osbourne’s awesome 1988 romp Bloodbath In Paradise, while album highlight Sail Into The Black – by far the longest track at eight-plus minutes – is a true musical epic. Like a soundtrack to Pirates Of The Caribbean had it been directed by John Carpenter, it lumbers menacingly from its Evil Dead-meets-Halloween-styled intro into a sinister, ghostly horror ballad, culminating in a swaggering mid-paced finale with a chorus that could overthrow The Blackening’s Halo as the biggest singalong-in-waiting of the band’s career so far.
Eyes Of The Dead’s galloping melodies and ‘Murder! Murder!’ refrain make it an instant winner and Beneath The Silt packs a low-end rumble so heavy you have to wonder if Robb pinched it from Kirk Windstein’s back pocket when he wasn’t looking. In Comes The Flood takes a lyrical dagger to the capitalist meltdown of America’s supposed core values amidst a deluge of thrashy riffs, solos and more orchestral smatterings, while short and well-timed melodic number Damage Inside serves as a perfect prelude to Game Over – a shameless vent against a certain former bassist and easily the most vitriolic and utterly ruthless song on the whole album. Sample-stacked, imperialistic marcher Imaginal Cells offers another neat interlude of sorts before the simplistic stomp of Take Me Through The Fire brings the album to what is a suitably punishing and satisfying climax.
While perhaps not quite at the level of Machine Head’s very finest work, Bloodstone & Diamonds is still a timely reminder of their vitality to a scene in sore need of leaders and, more importantly, bands capable of crafting big game, time-testing anthems. Bloodstone & Diamonds has them in spades, and is indisputable evidence of a great band on world-beating form.
And it sounds fucking glorious.
Via Nuclear Blast
IN COMES THE FLOOD IS A BRUTAL CRITIQUE OF MODERN AMERICA, ISN’T IT?
“If I could summarise it, and I can only write from an American perspective, it’s that we’ve turned cash into a god. One of the lines is ‘We’re fighting over scraps, we’ve let our conscience lapse by turning cash into a god…’ I watch the pharmaceutical industry in the US come up with a drug for every single affliction on the planet. There’s no incentive to heal because if they healed everybody they wouldn’t be making any money and there’s billions of dollars at stake. And so money has become the priority, to keep people sick and to convince us that we’re these frail things with all these afflictions when we’re not! We’re these powerful beings who fuckin’ created the Earth and buildings and rocket ships, and that’s the part of it that drives me fuckin’ crazy.”
DO YOU PAY ATTENTION TO NEGATIVE COMMENTS ABOUT THE BAND ONLINE?
“If you don’t like the band then I’d rather you just hate us. There’s not enough people who want to piss people off. Everything’s really safe right now – I miss that punk rock spirit. As artists it’s our job to hold up a mirror to society. If it’s ugly? Oh well. And sometimes it’s good to be eloquent about it, and other times it’s good to just say something belligerent about it. Aesthetics Of Hate is a fuckin’ Neanderthal burst of anger and it felt good and it needed to be said. They weren’t the most intelligent lyrics I’ve ever written and they couldn’t be. It was primal.”