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Machine Head doesn't leave much space on a standard compact disc and comes out with 15 songs over 74 minutes of playing time. I've never been so keen on this kind of extensive records and it indeed takes a little more time and commitment to try to embrace such an amount of music and especially when there's different stuff happening so frequently, which truly is the case on this one, so I decided to just close my eyes, lean back comfortably and follow the opening words in the first song: "Fuck the world! - Go!".
Catharsis in a way sums up this band's whole discography on one single record. I hear key ingredients like the significant sound of the harmony guitar which really started to take effect on The Blackening in order to put a more melodic element to the music, and bits and pieces that could have been on The Burning Red, both in a music related aspect and in Robb Flynn's tone of voice and his vocal melodies, as well as fragments similar to the early days and to one of their most well-known songs Ten Ton Hammer and naturally also stuff akin to the most recent albums Unto The Locust and Bloodstone & Diamonds.
I have personally always been a loyal fan to Machine Head's music, even throughout the sort of nu-metal period in 1999-2001 and although a lot of people see the band as trend followers I haven't taken too much notice of which type of music they have put out, but rather just appreciated the quality of it regardless of style and to this day I haven't gotten disappointed yet and if I really must choose their least good effort it would be The More Things Change as it couldn't live up to the sheer brilliance of the first record Burn My Eyes.
Although this album overall isn't as sonically heavy and massive as they usually are, the majority of the content I think follows the last couple of records, which at this point is very important to clarify so no one would believe that this is some kind of complete return to the nu-metal days or anything. Flynn's vocals balance between furiosity, being a family man, party, melancholy and real-life experiences and even if his voice isn't always technically phenomenal, great enough to earn him a scholarship, his singing style goes as always really well down to what this band puts to the table.
From initially getting the impression that this was something half-hearted and maybe even subpar for a band of this magnitude, all those different nuances have grown and I now realize how much I like this rather versatile record where the whole thing from one song to another turns from fast stuff into anguish, via really heavy shit and ease to epic parts and further to angry moments and back to hopelessness or a bit of harsh reality again. Some fans will probably not agree on the choice of putting a little bit of everything to Catharsis, but I certainly do and I think Machine Head once again has been able to come out with a most attractive record.