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Machine Head - Through The Ashes of Empires
Machine Head had some band Line-up changes, label problems, which ended in a split with Roadrunner USA, but somehow Robb Flynn and the rest of the band, which now has Phil Demmel (ex-Violence) on guitar instead of Ahrue Luster, managed to write one of the better metal records that will appear in 2003. Through the Ashes of Empires (TTAOE for short, I refuse to type that title out everytime) is definetly a "step back" to their first 2 records. Step back in a damn-good way that is! I dont know what sparked the intention to write "old heavy stuff", maybe it is Phil Demmel's added talent, or maybe Flynn cleaned his closet and found those big fat guitar amps they used during Burn my Eyes, because production and sound wise, TTAOE sounds just like it, heavy, hard and clean. I bet Colin Richardson had a big hand in that one, since he also mixed Burn My Eyes. Well now, lets get on to the songs. Track 1 is the first single of the record, and its called "Imperium". Personally, my favorite song of the entire disc, because of the great riffs and numerous transitions in it, its definitly a contender for "metal song of the year' by any band. Beginning with a guitar intro and drums based intro, it bursts into one of the better riffs I've heard from this band in a long time. It doesnt stop, near the end we get an almost "scandinavian metal" part that could be on an In Flames record. Great drumming is well, Dave McClain definitly has his chops together on this one. "Bite The Bullit" starts with a small drum intro, before the main riff of the song kicks in, a heavy chugga-chugga afair that will bring a smile on the faces of any decent metal-lover. Its a great song, with a catchy chorus to boot. Will work pretty well live! Track 3, "Left Unfinished", is one of the few tracks I dont really like on this disc. Personally I dont really feel it "fitting in" with the other tracks, maybe its the slightly upbeat tempo, I dont know. "Elegy" is a great track, one of the better slower tracks on the disc. It has a great, dragging guitar part, and I think Robb's vocals are really good on this one. Nice melodic bridge part as well. Time for track 4, "In the Presence of My enemies". The first song on the cd where we run into a guitar solo! Yes ladies and gentleman, the art of soloing returned! And its a good solo to boot as well! "In the presence" is one of those songs that could be on Burn My Eyes as well, heavy guitars, and a fast riff on the end. Reminded me of Blood for Blood alot! "Days Turn Blue To Gray" is a melodic track about bad situations with your family. I dont know if its abouts Flynn's situation, but he does get his point across. It somehow reminded me of a track that could be on The Burning Red. "Vim" starts with another cool drum intro, before bursting into a mid-tempo grooving riff. A great song as well, with some nice tempo changes, and a very cool riff halfway trough. And another great guitar solo as well! All Fall Down could a good contender for the 2nd single. Its energetic, has a good melodic chorus, and I really like the pacing of the song. It seems that Adam Duce chips in a bit as well with 2nd vocals. Number 9, "Wipe The Tears" is one of the shorter songs on the disc (3:52), and is a nice aggresive song about pulling through even if stuff isnt going all that well. Again, a great riff near the end of the song, which will probably do well live. Closer of the CD, "Descend The Shades of Night" starts with an acoustic guitar intro, which made think that this would be another "typical soft acoustic" closer for the cd. After 2 minutes or so the guitars kicked in, and it turned into a slow, long melodic closure. Really nice 2-voiced guitar solo as well. A good song, altough a bit on the long side (almost 8 minutes). Well now...how would I rate this cd? Im a big Machine Head fan, I like every record of them just as much (yes, that includes The Burning Red and Supercharger), and I think this cd is a great mix of the heavyness of the first 2, with the awesome riffs, drumming and solos going on, but it also has the songwriting of the latter two discs. I think the band has definitly improved their songwriting. There are still parts on TTAOE that will remind people of Supercharger, and if you are one of the people out there who hates that record, so be it, but I consider TTAOE to be a really good mix of the "old" and "new" Machine Head, and I consider it the best Machine Head record since Burn My Eyes. Tracklist 01. Imperium 02. Bite The Bullet 03. Left Unfinished 04. Elegy 05. In The Presence Of My Enemies 06. Days Turn Blue To Gray 07. Vim 08. All Fall Down 09. Wipe The Tears 10. Descend The Shades Of Night