Often when bands reach about their sixth album you start to think “oh, this again.” Some bands get in a rut, or are happy with how things are going and don’t like change. I’m not saying bands need to change who they are, but a little variety is necessary otherwise you just end up listening to what is essentially the same record over and over again. Machine Head’s Bloodstone & Diamonds is their eighth studio release, and they certainly haven’t just released more of the same.
One of the best things about Machine Head is that they are never afraid to try something new, but still manage to retain their core sound. Even their nu-metal phase still sounded like Machine Head. This time round Machine Head have fresh blood with Jared MacEachern taking over bass duties and backing vocals from Adam Duce. MacEachern adds a bit of freshness to the band and of course everything else is as expected. McClain’s drumming is a solid as ever, the twin guitar attack of Flynn and Demmel is still some of the best guitar work I’ve ever heard and Flynn’s vocal onslaught isn’t even close to wavering, even after eight albums.
That all might be the same, but Bloodstone & Diamonds still doesn’t sound like a carbon copy of previous releases. Bloodstone & Diamonds sees Machine Head experiment further with orchestral elements heard in Unto The Locust. “Now We Die” and “In Comes The Flood” both have orchestral intros that just work perfectly against the aggression that is Machine Head.
Obvious throw backs to their back catalogue can be heard, particularly “Imaginal Cells” which uses spoken word snippets in the same vain as “Real Eyes, Realise, Real Lies”, and with “Damage Inside” continuing the softer, intimate side to Flynn we heard in “Darkness Within.” It’s kind of a misfire though. “Damage Inside” doesn’t seem to possess the urgent emotion heard in “Darkness Within”. But hey, nothing is ever perfect and it doesn’t require a skip. It’s just missing something in the delivery that “Darkness Within” had.
Along with their further experiments with orchestral elements, tracks “Game Over” and “Beneath the Silt” see them add some groove to their sound, and song lengths have crept back up. Not quite the length of tracks from “The Blackening” but that epic, narrative style track has returned adding that progressive metal sound on top of everything else that is Bloodstone & Diamonds.
Bloodstone & Diamonds is over the top, but that’s what makes it a great release. Machine Head make no signs of slowing down. It’s the exact opposite. Everything is bigger on this album. It’s inflated. It’s Machine Head on crack. Everything that made Machine Head great is here, only bigger and better. Bloodstone & Diamonds is a little eclectic; with thrash, groove, progressive metal and orchestral elements all having moments of being the focus. It once again shows that Machine Head can try something new, take a slightly different direction, but still produce an amazing piece of work. Essentially it’s still Machine Head, but it’s Machine Head 2.0.