ALBUM REVIEW: Øf Kingdøm And Crøwn – Machine Head

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In some respects, it doesn’t matter what rating we give the new MACHINE HEAD album; they’ve been critic-proof for decades. Even during the career-low of the post-Supercharger years, their fanbase refused to abandon them and they kept selling out venues. We could give them an absolute verbal-kicking and they’d still pack Brixton Academy to the rafters.

However, even the most loyal Headcase would have to admit that we’re well overdue a good album. 2007’s The Blackening was a game-changing masterpiece, but so far, they’ve failed to match it. The follow-ups, 2011’s Not The Blackening, But Decent Enough, 2014’s Hmmm, Okay and 2018’s Ye Gods, What The Devil Is This Garbage painted a picture of a band in slow decline, and the collapse of the classic line-up was deeply worrying too. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if frontman Robb Flynn occasionally worries about when the goodwill is going to run out. After all, there are only so many times you can play Burn My Eyes in full before you resemble a band living off past glories.

Thankfully, Øf Kingdøm And Crøwn is easily the best thing that MACHINE HEAD have produced in over ten years. The line-up might be almost unrecognisable from their previous incarnation, but this is a triumphant return to form for one of metal’s most beloved but inconsistent acts.

Øf Kingdøm And Crøwn starts on a sombre note with a slow, stripped-back guitar riff and a depressed, barely-present vocal line. It’s an introduction designed to raise eyebrows; you could be fooled into thinking that MACHINE HEAD had abandoned their fury and were taking a more arthouse-friendly path, but after three minutes it kicks off. And boy howdy, does it kick off. It’s difficult to explain the full force of Slaughter The Martyr’s main riff, but it’s basically that gif of Patrick Bateman grimacing and nodding, albeit in musical form. Robb Flynn sounds pissed off beyond belief, and there’s a chorus that’s hooky enough to reel in a giant squid. It’s a long opener, but the 11-minute runtime flies by.

In contrast, the following Chøke Øn the Ashes Øf Yøur Hate is comparatively zippy. The elastic-fingered guitar work and rapid pace are reminiscent of Aesthetics Of Hate, and it’s almost certainly going to be a circle-pit anthem by summer’s end. This is MACHINE HEAD at their Bay Area thrashiest and it pairs well with the equally intense Becøme The Firestørm.

Later, My Hands Are Empty is a bleak mid-album semi-ballad with a haunting vocal line and Kill Thy Enemies has a slight nu-metal vibe to its macho stomp. Bløødshøt is a mildly silly but grin-inducing slice of fun, while Arrøws In Wørds Frøm The Sky is a classic MACHINE HEAD album closer. It’s an emotive, melodic finale and a great way to bring the curtain down. There’s going to be a hallucination-inducing light show accompanying this one whenever it gets played live.

There’s a misstep or two along the way; Unhalløwed is a momentum-killer that probably should have been relegated to B-Side status, and the album as a whole is just a bit too long. For the most part though, this is MACHINE HEAD at their most ferocious, enthusiastic and rabble-rousing. It’s unlikely they’ll ever make an album as monumental as The Blackening again, but taken on its own merits, Øf Kingdøm And Crøwn slays. You can once again be prøud of Robb Flynn and the boys.

Rating: 8/10

Øf Kingdom and Crøwn - Machine Head

Øf Kingdøm And Crøwn is set for release on August 26th via Nuclear Blast Records.

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