Check out Metal Hammer Germany's 7/7 Album of the Month review of "Unto The Locust", written by Matthias Weckmann and translated below! Be sure to pick up your copy of the October issue, as well as the October issue of Rock Hard, also featuring Robb on the cover!
MACHINE HEAD - UNTO THE LOCUST
"Unto The Locust" is a candidate for album of the year. The expectations have been colossal, but "Unto The Locust" is even bigger. After the worldwide success of "The Blackening" and its subsequent entry into the metal history books (the second time Machine Head has accomplished the feat, the first being their debut "Burn My Eyes" in 1994), Machine Head have become one of the only bands that appeal to both modern metal fans and old school lunatics alike. While on tour with Metallica in 2009, frontman Robb Flynn mentioned that he wanted to return to short, concise songs. Well, that didn't quite work out as planned, since "Unto The Locust" is still a fairly complex record full of longer songs, albeit not quite as complex and long as many of the songs on "The Blackening". The songs here clock in between five and eight minutes, all the while Robb Flynn, guitarist Phil Demmel, bassist Adam Duce and, first and foremost, drummer Dave McClain push their instruments to the maximum. You simply can't compose classic metal in a more powerfully modern way than Machine Head have here; the solos constantly leave your jaw on the floor, before the wrecking balls of pure thrash smash your skull. "Unto The Locust" has it all: pace, ability and the typical Machine Head spirit that forces you to clench your fist and scream right into the confused face of the person standing next to you on the subway.
Right out of the gate the opener "I Am Hell (Sonata in C#)" kick-starts the album like a twenty-ton truck. The quartet nails this "Damage Inc."-like massacre into our cortex with the precision of a high-powered rifle, leaving the listener in need of a break to bring their pulse down a little. Instead, "Be Still And Know" follows, an homage to Iron Maiden whose mixture of epic climax, speed attacks and stunning solos is the cherry on top of the sundae. Too complex for your ears? Then you may wreck your neck to the already-released "Locust", whose choppy main riff reminds you of Machine Head's early years, and representing an integral part of the "Unto The Locust" universe with its simpler and more direct structure. The mid-song instumental section combines twin guitars with a Metallica-esque groove that is among the best you'll hear all year. Next up is my personal favorite track on the album: "This Is The End". Quite honestly a perfect song. Starting with an acoustic intro and followed by Swedish melodic death metal influences that lead to its epic peak, these six minutes and eleven seconds should be written into every encyclopedia under the subject "Metal". Seventeen replays later and this song still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. The ballad "The Darkness Within" offers you time to catch your breath, albeit briefly. Robb Flynn impresses here with his varied and haunting voice, a song that could very well be the brother of the song "The Burning Red", with a satisfying climax all its own. "Pearls Before The Swine" is the only song on the album that struggles with some arrangement issues, comprised of a number of different-feeling sections, however all are pleasing to listen to individually.
The exclamation point of the record is the more-cohesive "Who We Are", a classic that starts with a children's choir, yet after 40 minutes of tirelessly headbanging to the rest of the album, still scores with an soaring climax that'll be stuck in your head for days to follow. For my part, I - Attention: Sacrilege - like "Unto The Locust" even more than "The Blackening", because the songs get to the point quicker and it embodies greater vehemence, without feeling too long. There won't be many best-of Metal lists for 2011 that won't include "Unto The Locust". But enough with all the talking, this melodic grenade demands every second of your attention - don't talk, just headbang!
- Matthias Weckmann