Machine Head - Catharsis review



Reviewer:
3.0

196 users:
4.74
Band: Machine Head
Album: Catharsis
Release date: January 2018


01. Volatile
02. Catharsis
03. Beyond The Pale
04. California Bleeding
05. Triple Beam
06. Kaleidoscope
07. Bastards
08. Hope Begets Hope
09. Screaming At The Sun
10. Behind A Mask
11. Heavy Lies The Crown
12. Psychotic
13. Grind You Down
14. Razorblade Smile
15. Eulogy


If Supercharger was Machine Head's St. Anger, Catharsis is their Lulu.

As we all know, Robb Flynn recently turned 14, and he's ready to celebrate by crowning himself one of metal's most histrionic poetasters. The forced, voice-cracking inferiority complex of Korn, the fathomless hormonal angst of Linkin Park, the indiscriminate, repetitive, and vulgar groove of Soulfly (featuring Corey Taylor), the inability to rap so proudly displayed on SuperchargerMachine Head hoards all the worst, most embarrassing tropes of alt/groove/nu metal as if it had never proven itself worthy of serious artistic consideration on albums like The Blackening and Burn My Eyes. It's a risky business, attempting to tackle serious political and social issues while wielding all the insightful lyricism of a pop-country cowboy cutout, the wannabe tough-guy posturing of an out-of-step pop-punk band, and the vocabulary of your average bawdy limerick.

Viewed from afar, about half of Catharsis is little more than a logical declension from Bloodstone & Diamonds, a sanded-down and pop-core-indebted parody of in-your-face groove metal - older Machine Head bowdlerized in spirit, if not in diction. Songs like "Volatile," "Screaming At The Sun," and "Hope Begets Hope" are no worse than soulless retreads of tunes that might have passed for old MH B-sides. Twisting words into shape to evoke base emotions has always been a task Robb approached with amateurish enthusiasm, if not any particular expertise, and the idea of mumbling or mewling verses before breaking out the belligerent bawling for the chorus has its roots in competent Machine Head releases. "Beyond The Pale" is surprisingly decent, even if the resemblance to Strapping Young Lad's "Love?" only suggests that there are better bands to be listening to at present. When the best a band can do is three steps down from a step down from "fine," however, it's not worth digging for the odd cool riff that survived into "Razorblade Smile" or the invigorating growls in "Grind You Down" - and the worst this band can do is far beyond that.

As much as Catharsis indentures itself to heavy music's most unfortunate pubescent cash cows, this album is more than just a cringe-inducing concoction of bland Slipknot ripoffs, exhausted clean choruses, harder-than-thou breakdowns, and store-bought palatable pablum. Bands similar to Machine Head, and even Machine Head themselves, have embarked on similar paths before, so you might think you know where this album is headed before you listen - but I tell you that you know nothing. This is more than In Flames's Shakespearean tumble from Gothenburg divinity to middling metalcore, more than Opeth's steady vanishing into the time-traveling Volkswagen of prog indulgence, more than a Megadeth backslide into softcore dad rock and angsty dotage-thrash. This is an Illud Divinum Insanus, a Dedicated To Chaos, a The Unspoken King… a Lulu. This is Supercharger updated for the modern era, now with 50% more painful yammering and moralistic caterwauling. This is the sound of a band choke-slamming itself through layers of intensive musical acrimony before retching to a stop in a barren field of breakdown-infested, testosterone-flushed pinch-harmonic-grubbing that would make Emmure take a step back and wonder if they were trying too hard.

Much of the album leaves the concept of inoffensive mediocrity choking in the dust between airy synths and quiet crooning. "Bastards" sounds like a hack cigar box-strumming anarchist pretending to be Dropkick Murphys until it degenerates into Robb screaming "NO NO NO NO NO" like Mike Muir discovering that somebody drank his Pepsi. Every time I replay "Behind A Mask" or "Eulogy," I have to brace myself in case I suddenly start hearing, "All around me are familiar faces…" "Triple Beam" balances the tender braggadocio of a Hatebreed workout playlist with the subtle artistry and tasteful composition of someone who just saw Straight Outta Compton and now thinks he can rap. It certainly doesn't help that this album is 75 minutes long; that would be asking a lot of a listener for an excellent album.

Machine Head's pop melodies are cribbed so shamelessly from radio-tier hardcore that The Chainsmokers would have passed on them for being too saccharine and condescendingly simple; there are lyrics so puerile and shallow that Limp Bizkit would have pursued some thoughtful rewrites before exposing such angst to the world. At least on Bloodstone & Diamonds, Machine Head was still recognizable as a heavy, forceful groove metal band that could thrash and grind with respectable levels of violence. During Catharsis's heavy moments, all I hear is child-proofed alt rock and I Can't Believe It's Not Deathcore. Once upon a time, Robb's powerful, hoarse bellowing could have given Phil Anselmo a run for his money. Now, Machine Head finds itself under the aegis of scratchy, breathless shouts and quavering, pathetic cleans that reek of failed attempts to capture the "realness" of Robb's lyrical fantasies. His harmonies and hooks have more to do with Sonic Syndicate than Pantera. If this had been any other vocalist, half the album might have been salvageable. Maybe. As it is, this album is actual trash.

Let me leave with this piece of advice:

No, Robbert. Heavy breathing is not an instrument.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 4
Songwriting: 3
Originality: 4
Production: 5


 



Written on 09.03.2018 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments

Comments: 21   Visited by: 359 users
09.03.2018 - 07:38
IH8Hipsters
True their last two albums suck bad!!! WTF
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09.03.2018 - 08:36
Kennoth
Damn, is it that bad? They released some great albums over the last decade, what the fuck happened?
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*insert something deep and profound*
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09.03.2018 - 12:00
Ziom
Very poor, very surprising. Couldn't force myself to listen to any song in entirety. Their previous albums had long and layered songs, but catchy enough to grab you from the first listen. Then, they had enough to warrant 7-8 minutes per track. This here? What is this?
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09.03.2018 - 12:21
Pimpelmee
Amazing Mapman
Two remarks:
1. using a lot of difficult words doesn't necessarily mean the quality of the review is good
2. interesting to see that a rating breakdown score of 5-4-5-6 leads to an overall score of 3

Oh, and by the way: I don't like Catharsis either.
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09.03.2018 - 13:17
Cynic Metalhead
Atrocious Virgin
Written by Pimpelmee on 09.03.2018 at 12:21

Two remarks:
1. using a lot of difficult words doesn't necessarily mean the quality of the review is good
2. interesting to see that a rating breakdown score of 5-4-5-6 leads to an overall score of 3

Oh, and by the way: I don't like Catharsis either.


Then what's the issue?
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09.03.2018 - 13:55
Lanthros
Written by Cynic Metalhead on 09.03.2018 at 13:17

Written by Pimpelmee on 09.03.2018 at 12:21

Two remarks:
1. using a lot of difficult words doesn't necessarily mean the quality of the review is good
2. interesting to see that a rating breakdown score of 5-4-5-6 leads to an overall score of 3

Oh, and by the way: I don't like Catharsis either.


Then what's the issue?

Being an ass maybe? Maybe one ofnthe cry baby posers who just cant stand their facorite band being shit on. Even if they cant disagree with a single point made.
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09.03.2018 - 13:59
cossaisVendeurs
Giving it a 5 for originality is a bit generous.
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09.03.2018 - 14:31
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Written by Pimpelmee on 09.03.2018 at 12:21

Two remarks:
1. using a lot of difficult words doesn't necessarily mean the quality of the review is good
2. interesting to see that a rating breakdown score of 5-4-5-6 leads to an overall score of 3

Oh, and by the way: I don't like Catharsis either.

The individual rating breakdown doesn't necessarily equate to the final, overall score. You did, however, bring to my attention that I had scored each category one too high. It's a series of tick-boxes rather than a drop-down menu, so I miscount sometimes, but it was supposed to be 4-3-4-5.

As for using difficult words, I wasn't sitting there with a dictionary in hand as I wrote this. If you don't care for the review, that's unfortunate, but it came rather naturally. Perhaps I was inspired to demonstrate to Robb that words can be longer than four letters and more nuanced than a brick wall.
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Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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09.03.2018 - 15:04
Darkside Momo
Retired
Whoa that's a harsh - but certainly not undeserved - review!
And a pleasant read, I must add
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"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you" - Ray Bradbury

"I've lost too many years now
I'm stealing back my soul
I'm awake now"
Abney Park (Letter Between A Little Boy & Himself As An Adult)
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09.03.2018 - 15:05
VIG
Esoteric Zachism
Great review. For me, I'd give it a 2. This is one of the WORST albums I have ever heard. I'm sorry to anyone who liked it, this is just crap.
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09.03.2018 - 16:10
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Rob Flynn's talent peaked with his Vio-Lence days and the Machine Head debut, and he's been on a downward spiral ever since. It's funny to sit back and watch him trying to remain relevant though, that's for sure
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This is the water, and this is the well
Drink full and descend
The horse is the white of the eyes, and dark within
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09.03.2018 - 16:19
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
I'm sorry that you had to listen to it to write this review
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Is it future of is it past?
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09.03.2018 - 16:35
s_t_s
Have given up on Machine Head decades ago, after their second album to speak the truth and if you want to listen to a once great band please go and spin Burn My Eyes !
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09.03.2018 - 17:10
WorpeX
I haven't heard the whole album, just the two singles. I thought Beyond the Pale was decent enough. Better than Game Over from the previous albums singles. Definitely not as good as Locust, I like that one a lot.

...Then they released Bastards. Holy shit that song is awful. If the album follows more in the wake of this song then the previous, I can totally understand this review.
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09.03.2018 - 20:05
Malignar
But it has a clap intro song!!! That's gotta be worth at least 1/2 of a point!
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09.03.2018 - 20:58
nikarg
Old Nick
Written by RaduP on 09.03.2018 at 16:19

I'm sorry that you had to listen to it to write this review

I was going to write exactly the same sentence but you beat me to it.
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on and on south of heaven

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09.03.2018 - 23:56
kaiserphoenix
Ill fully admit that this album isn't great. I used to love machine head. Unto the locust was my album of the year for 2011 and its a big bummer to see them change so much. I will say though that i do like catharsis and kaleidoscope but so many songs on this album feel too preachy and overall the album as a whole just doesnt stack up well to what they used to be.
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10.03.2018 - 00:05
ntmm43@gmail.com
It's not THAT bad. It's really whiney, and to be honest, it's kind of pathetic that Flynn is still whining about the same crap in his lyrics that have pissed him off since the 90s. I mean, a person SHOULD mature emotionally, but Flynn must watch too much fake news. The riffs and music is quite solid. If it weren't for the fact that he sounds like a SJW baby, I would give the album a 4/5. I think they just needed a more commercial album again to gain more of an audience and with all the entitled little whiners out there, this album is the perfect trap.
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10.03.2018 - 13:54
Bad English
Masterchief
SSUS st. anger is comming out, I like your negativitya nd agresion, this is why MS is best, no rules, just write what you feel and think and bitch around. metal hammer and old label pay magazines would always write a good reviev.
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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12.03.2018 - 10:25
Daniell
_爱情_
Written by Pimpelmee on 09.03.2018 at 12:21

1. using a lot of difficult words doesn't necessarily mean the quality of the review is good

Perhaps they are only difficult for you?
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Now loving:
Tribulation - The Lament
Tribulation - Nightbound
Tribulation - Subterranea
Tribulation - The World
Tribulation - Here Be Dragons
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13.03.2018 - 13:23
musclassia
I still rather like Unto The Locust when I occasionally revisit it, and The Blackening was a major album for me when I first discovered it, so I'm definitely not a 'downhill since Burn My Eyes' kinda guy, but B&D was tedious and I expected this to be similarly bland. Actually, it was way worse - that Triple Beam-Kaleidoscope-Bastards trio pretty much kills the album stone dead, and even if the rest of the album was great (it isn't) it would struggle to recover. The only track that vaguely impressed me was parts of Heavy Lies The Crown, which was relatively well put together compared to the rest of the record, if not really stacking up to past epics like Clenching Fists or even Sail Into The Black from the last album. Not sure I've heard something that is almost objectively terrible since that Otep album everyone enjoyed collectively shitting on a few years ago
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