Machine Head – Catharsis


Back in 1988, at the One on One Studios in Los Angeles, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich were just done recording ‘The Frayed Ends of Sanity’ and ‘Dyers Eve’. Just before erasing the bass from the mix, they looked at each other and said: ‘We went as far as we can with this style.

The next record has to be different’. Robb Flynn must have felt something similar somewhere between ‘Bloodstone & Diamonds’ and ‘Catharsis’. The amazing period, from Phil Demmel joining, up until 2014, with a series of masterpieces comparable only to the true greats, is officially over.

It’s not that ‘Catharsis’ doesn’t reflect an ambition for a new, fresh, exciting chapter. They just happen to be the ‘wrong’ ambitions: Exaggerated variety and length, from the same guys that only put 7 songs on ‘Unto the Locust’, because ‘they were the best ones’. A few ‘easy’ songs and some simplistic lyrics from a band that, in today’s discography, grew in terms of sales, releasing 10-minute thrash epics!

Flynn wanted to fit King 810 (‘Triple Beam’) and Opeth (‘Behind a Mask’) in the same record, just because he can. And he should, having an eclectic album with range is a good thing. The difference in quality however, between the unbelievably amazing ‘Heavy Lies the Crown’, that is almost painful to listen to as it showcases Machine Head’s potential, and a song like ‘California Bleeding’, which is unworthy of criticism, is unacceptable for such skilled songwriters.

There’s also been a lot of talk for things other than the music itself. Flynn has mostly been right when he’s chosen to express his opinion through the years; Avenged Sevenfold releasing ‘The Black Album’ with a different cover (even that’s similar to be honest), Phil Anselmo trying, at first, to get away with a despicable act, regardless of the circumstances, brushing it off as a joke about the white wine backstage. As right as he was then, he was just was wrong when he posted a negative review recently, literally telling the writer to fuck off. (He’s been obsessed with the plague that is social media like a fucking millennial lately, for no apparent reason.)

Indeed, history is written by the bold, the brave, and the strange. It just so happens that this page isn’t as good as the previous ones.