Machine Head – Unto the Locust [a second look]
I did review this album previously, but without actually having hard media. See that review here. I randomly found it in the Sound Machine last week at a rather nice price (on CD) and thus felt obliged to give it a second spin.
So, with no further ado…
Its a locust. There’s some interesting employments of the Locust theme within the album booklet, interacting with the band members, but its nothing to write home about. A step down from the woodcut glory that was The Blackening. Also, the script inside isn’t the clearest. Yes, you can find all the lyrics online, (not that I particularly care to read Machine Head lyrics), but clarity is surely of greater importance than artistry when selling media?
Robb took the lead with the production for this one, and all told he’s done a decent job. It is on a par with The Blackening, all the elements balanced within the mix. Crisp, clear leads, penetrating drums and vocals.
It still sounds like Machine Head, though – over-produced, a lack of bite to the guitars and drums that sound far too clinical. Don’t get the wrong, the sound works for Machine Head, but still, it would be nice to see some variance in production. But no, the entire album pretty much sounds the same throughout.
To be honest, this is a step down from The Blackening – no Clenching the fists of dissent with its pick-slides and massive amounts of riff salad, no delights like Halo or Now I lay Thee down. If anything, there are two songs that are pretty much unlistenable – the opener, Sangre Sani with its crappy choral vocals, and Who We Are with its downright appalling children’s choir. If this was an attempt at a Another Brick in the Wall Pt 2 homage, it comes up very short.
Beyond that, its all perfectly decent enough, but nothing to write home about. It becomes rather a blur of chunky riffs and bellowed, angsty vocals.
Adam Duce remains a perfunctory metal drummer, no more no less. I could scarce hear the bass, and the guitar work was flash enough but again, nothing we hadn’t heard before in better constructions and form on The Blackening.
I felt obliged to revisit this album, as Machine Head were an important band to me back in my formative days. I thought distance from the release and an actual CD would help me assess it in a more balanced fashion. It transpires, however, that the views espoused in the first review largely hold true – it is heavily derivative, botched by experimentation and lacking in innovation and variety.
At the end of the day, I can’t recall when I last listened to The Blackening, and I find that album lacking in parts. Where does Unto The Locust fit in, given my ambivalence toward its superior progenitor?
I will not be listening to this again for a rather long time.