by Carina Lawrence / Dark Art Conspiracy
Machine Head are back with their tenth album, ‘ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN’, their first concept album loosely inspired by the Japanese anime series Attack On Titan. Set in a futuristic wasteland where the sky is always crimson red, the album tells you the tale of two characters who believe they are doing good. Still, both sides are committing atrocities, and as the story unfolds through the music, their paths become more heavily and dangerously tangled, which is reflected in the sound. This concept has fuelled some of their most devasting and innovative work.
The opening track ‘SLAUGHTER THE MARTYR’ is essentially our character one’s origin story, and it starts with ominous and intriguing clean vocals from Robb Flynn. The anticipation builds as it takes you on a mental journal through the lyrics and music to set the concept’s intent. Robb and Jared MacEachern’s soaring vocal harmonies strike hard before the heavy backdrop kicks in on this colossal track in length and stature.
‘CHØKE ØN THE ASHES ØF YØUR HATE’ follows in rapid fury with thrash metal in its roots and with crushing and blistering guitars, making it an unrelenting force.
The mighty ‘BECØME THE FIRESTØRM’ is sinister and brutal with a powerful massive chorus with contrasting clean and fierce vocals. The guitar work and solo are sizzling and live, this track goes down a storm, as I was fortunate enough to witness at their secret Bloodstock set, and the crowd went mental.
Aiding the story is the atmospheric tragic audio track ‘ØVERDØSE’ which leads us into the haunting and dynamic offering ‘MY HANDS ARE EMPTY’. ‘UNHALLØWED’ is an ambient song about confronting your inner demons and has some serious melodic grooves to mosh along to.
‘ASSIMILATE’ is another foreboding rallying track to highlight the concept, which perfectly sets up and leads into ‘KILL THY ENEMIES’, which is fired up and rearing to go, armed with some of the heftiest riffs to stun.
The vast ‘NØ GØDS, NØ MASTERS’ is intense and rich with some memorable melodic chants, whereas the alarming ‘BLØØDSHØT’ is frantic with killer hard and heavy riffs and which leaves a massive impact. ‘RØTTEN’ continues the savagery with its belligerent and menacing nature.
‘TERMINUS’ is the final story setting track and ends on a creepy regretful note before the final thought-provoking closer, ‘ARRØWS IN WØRDS FRØM THE SKY’, which is grand and majestic. It demonstrates their masterful craft and songwriting capabilities, is nothing short of epic, and makes for an immense way to end this compelling, conflicted story.
‘ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN’ is exhilarating, inventive and hellishly crushing whilst remaining balanced between melody and brutality. Machine Head have been around for over thirty years, and this is some of their most extensive work yet and asserts their passion and creativity and why they are reigning champions in the metal scene while staying true to their classic roots.
ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN is out August 26th via Nuclear Blast Records. Order album, see tour dates & tickets at: https://linktr.ee/machinehead