Check out Kerrang! magazine's Ian Winwood's incredible review of Machine Head's new album, "Unto The Locust"!
UNTO THE LOCUST
OAKLAND RAIDERS RETURN WITH REMARKABLE NEW RELEASE
In the studio at which Machine Head recorded Unto The Locust, the Bay Area quartet's seventh studio album, there lay a large collection of vinyl LP's. As none of the group's members owned a record player, these 12 inch discs were viewed as something of a curiosity, and were pored over with uncommon attention to detail. On one occasion bandleader Robb Flynn happened to be perusing a latter-day album by Bob Dylan, the sleevenotes of which asked the artist how, after so many years, he managed to find the inspiration to continue writing songs. The answer, according to the Minnesota born genius, was simple: it's all about finding new ways to say the same thing.
Prior to recording their latest set, Machine Head had to their credit two world class albums: 1994's Burn My Eyes, the group's first release, and 2007's The Blackening. With Unto The Locust, the band has their third. Clocking in at a relatively svelte 48 minutes, this seven song offering is a piece that is trimmed of every gramme of fat, leaving only sinew and muscle – that and the organ that is the beating heart of progressive, modern metal.
Time was that the music Machine Head played was seen as being on the fringes of this genre's mainstream. With a date at London's Wembley Arena on the docket, today it finds itself occupying the centre ground. But while Robb Flynn may believe that Unto the Locust's job of work is to find a new vocabulary for familiar themes, really this is only part of the story. For while sections of this album make good use of known themes – This Is The End, for one, is a key example of the forensic thrash this band do as well as any, and better than almost all – elsewhere the authors can be found stretching their limbs into the unknown. Two songs in particular stand out as masterpieces, rendered all the better for being different from the kind of music one might associate with its creators. Darkness Within simmers with a quality for which Machine Head have never before been known: subtlety. Better yet is closing track Who We Are, a mountainous and majestic creation that is both as undeniable as the pull of gravity and as infectious as an airbourne disease. Kerry King once said of his own band that he desired for Slayer to be regarded as "the AC/DC of thrash", meaning that listeners would get from the group exactly what they expected. And while Unto The Locust has much within it that will appeal to unreconstructed customers, parts of this work showcase a unit whose creative appetites are still restless and free. It is this quality that sets Machine Head apart from the chasing pack, and which makes their latest album an offering worthy not only of one's time but also of one's respect.
A bunch of album launch parties for "Unto The Locust" will be happening this weekend and into next week around the UK in conjunction with Scuzz TV, Attitude Clothing & Jackson Guitars! Stop by, listen to the album and win some killer prizes!
Friday 21st October
Aberdeen - Rock Night @ Korova Klub
Glasgow - Cathouse
Hull - Komrades Rock Night @ Pozition Club
Leeds - F*U*E*L @ The Met
Lincoln - Rock Night @ Sugarcubes
Sheffield - Drop @ Corporation
Saturday October 22nd
Birmingham - Eddie’s
Camberly - R.O.C.K. @ Agincourt
Cardiff - Bogiez Rock Bar & Nightclub
Liverpool - Krazyhouse
Manchester - Satan’s Hollow
Newcastle - ROCK @ L.Y.H. Bar Newcastle
Nottingham - Hey Hey Hey @ Rock City
Monday October 24th
Ipswich - Bounce @ The Switch
Wednesday October 26th
London - Nasin @ The Borderline
At "Day On The Green" #19, featuring Metallica, Queensrÿche, Faith No More, Soundgarden, I started Machine Head.
Well, sort of... it was more of a figurative thought as I didn't have a band yet, but after watching / being blown away by Metallica for the umpteenth time, I decided that I was going to start a side project, as I was unhappy in my then-current band Vio-Lence. Later that night backstage (or maybe while Metallica was still playing and we were watching from the stage-right backstage bleachers?) I turned to my friend, partner-in-crime and long time Vio-Lence fan Adam Duce, and said I was going to start a then-unnamed side project and asked if he would like to play bass. He eagerly agreed.
I had two songs written by then, the heavily Godflesh-inspired "Death Church", and "Blood For Blood", both songs that I had already brought to Vio-Lence, but they were not interested in jamming either of them. Vio-Lence had gone through numerous label changes, were unsigned again, thrash was dead, and the vibe in the band at the time was that the new tunes were going to take a more heavy rock / grunge approach which seemed a bit crazy to me. Though I wasn't thrilled with our new direction, I said I would stay on, and though no one seemed happy about me doing it, starting a side project seemed fairly reasonable considering our circumstances.
4 months later following a (thoroughly documented) AM/PM gas station brawl after an Unjust / Deftones show (Deftones opening) at the Omni in Oakland, I quit Vio-Lence and focused on Machine Head full time. But that was still 4 months away, and for now, it was just a thought, an idea, a dream, that metal could be taken to a different, heavier place.
Did I think that 20 years later Machine Head would be a Top 25, Top 10 or Top 5 charting band throughout the world? Hell no.
Did I think Machine Head would even be going 20 years later? God no!
Did I think that we could become one of the best American metal bands on the planet? Yes.
20 years ago on this very day (October 12, 1991), Machine Head was born.
Happy Birthday, Machine Head.
Check out highlights from the four "Unto The Locust" listening events in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Oakland, hosted by Machine Head to celebrate the release of the new album with fans and friends around the country!
Browse the photo gallery here.
Amidst a slew of new releases this last week, Machine Head jumps 32 spots up the Billboard charts and into the top 25 for the first time in the 17 year history of the band, landing at #22 on the Billboard Top 200, and #19 on the Billboard Digital Charts (digital sales accounted for a whopping 35% of the total number)! On top of that, with over 17,000 copies sold, "Unto The Locust" has officially scanned more in its first week than any other Machine Head release before it! Even more impressive, this is the third consecutive album to show at least a 20% increase in sales over the last, a virtually unprecedented feat for any band or artist, let alone a metal band in 2011. Add to that the fact that Machine Head's last release was four and a half years ago, a period of time that has seen the music market drop by more than 45%, and you're looking at something amazing.
Roadrunner A&R guru Monte Conner gushed about the band's achievement in the U.S., stating simply that "It's really incredible to see Machine Head gain in both first week sales and on the Billboard Top 200 for 3 albums in a row. I can't think of one other band here, or anywhere for that matter, that has done that given the tough climate in the music biz over the last few years. This is quite a feat and is a testament to the band's rabid fanbase as well as their ability to win new fans."
Machine Head have consistently averaged 100,000+ albums sold in the U.S. for 7 albums in a row and sell double that same consistent number overseas (accruing several Silver Records in the UK), tallying their worldwide sales at more than 2.4 million.
Canadian chart positions came in as well today, and again, marking the highest scans and chart positions the band has ever seen, with a #32 on the National Chart. Worldwide chart positions were posted yesterday with no less than four Top 10 spots being occupied:
New Zealand: #19
U.K.: #82 (DIGITAL ONLY due to Fanpack)
The international numbers are starting to pour in today, and fans have officially vaulted "Unto The Locust" into the highest chart positions in Machine Head's 17 year history, charting higher than they ever have in every single country reporting to date! Machine Head's new album lands at #5 on the German charts, #6 in Austria, #10 in Australia and Switzerland, #13 in France, #18 in Japan, #19 in New Zealand, #22 in Belgium and #28 in Norway! Shockingly, the record also landed at #82 (#7 on the Rock chart) on the UK charts on the strength of digital album sales alone (Metal Hammer Album Fanpack sales don't count toward chart position)! Thank you all so much for the incredible support!