Machine Head made quite an impact on the metal scene with their 1994 album Burn My Eyes. It was instant classic and the follow-up album was quite a smasher in its own right. Things went downhill for Robb Flynn and Co after that. The hardcore fan base didn’t appreciate the nu metal tendencies of The Burning Red (1999) and the punk rock influences of Supercharger (2001) didn’t turn any heads either. Machine Head remained a powerful live act and that saved them from certain annihilation. Through The Ashes Of Empires was a reflection of that period and it put them back on the metal map. Let’s take a closer look.
The album marks a return to the thunderous hardcore influenced thrash metal of Burn My Eyes and The More Things Change, but retaining the melodic sensibilities of The Burning Red as well. The first song Imperium is a clear indication that Machine Head are firmly back in the saddle again. Bite The Bullet and Left Unfinished further consolidate that notion.
Through The Ashes Of Empires also shows a more subtle side of the band in the form of Elegies, In The Presence Of My Enemies, Days Turn Blue To Grey and Descent The Shades Of Grey. Massive guitar riffs still form the basis of most songs, but there’s also room for acoustic parts, harmony singing by Robb Flynn and bass player Adam Duce and al sorts of nifty, carefully hidden melodic guitar lines. It’s in those tracks where Machine Head show their maturity without losing their trademark ferocity.
The massive sound is courtesy of Machine Head’s own Robb Flynn and the considerable mixing skills of Colin Richarson (Chimaira, Napalm Death, Cannibal Corpse). The powerful production adds a lot more edge to the song material.
Through The Ashes Of Empires shows a confident band ready to reclaim their position. It features some really memorable songs and it shows some new fresh angles as well. In short, a great album!
Written by Raymond Westland