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4.7 out of 5 stars145
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 28 March 2007
Well, I have been waiting a long time for this album to come out and I have got to say I have not been let down!

The Blackening is said to be a big epic of the metal canvas which I first thought would be a huge overstatement... but I was wrong! This album is a musical milestone for the awesome Machine Head... Kerrang! have given this album a 5 out of 5... and i must say its not often they do that! And even Metal Hammer have given this album a 10 out of 10.. this album is truely and utterly awesome and every metal fan on earth should BUY IT NOW!!!! It is not only a Machine Head milestone proving Through The Ashes Of Empire was not just all they can produce of good musical class but it is a metal milestone.. people are going to be talking about this album for years to come.. it is the new 'Master Of Puppets' so make sure you are a part of this phenomenon... you will be making metal history!
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on 28 March 2007
With machine heads debut they brought themselves to the world,with the follow up they kept us closer than before,with the burning red we kinda jumped back a bit,the nu-metal stylings horrified,with supercharger the world kinda looked at machine head with love again but in time that faded somwhat,with the brilliant through the ashes of the empire machine head had a hand on the metal world and now with their new album the blackening,machine head are on track to take the metal world back as their own,my tip is to back them on doing it.

The blackening on first appearances has the look of an old school thrash album,eight songs in total,just like the old days there then,the running time is just over a hour so the average song length is just over 7 minutes long,that may concern some but trust me when i say that the diversity within and the quality of chorus' charged down with solo work that swims in the waters of 80s thrash make for moments that we were born to enjoy.

The album opens with the bruising 'clenching the fists of dissent',a 10 minute epic that swirls all over the place with riffage that can tear a hole in your wall from 100 yards,rob flynn shouts his lyrics with force and focus and the music in the background is as metal as metal can be without delving into the dark side of metal (ie) black metal for example,machine head thrive on their melodies and here they compliment furious riffs,with speeding drums that knock the senses along with slower,more melodic and soothing sections.One such example can be found on 'beautiful mourning',a great song that will find its way into your head sooner rather than later.'Aesthetics of hate' follows and is as angry a song as the machine have ever written,inspired by a journalist who praised the murder of dimebag darrell,it doesnt take a genius to work out that the lyrics here could well start a riot.

'Now i lay thee down' is another masterful song with yards of melody and metal fused together,the remaining four tracks all contain the brilliance of the classics,savage and fast riffing,along with slower cruncier tracks and little in terms of breakdowns,in fact there isnt any at all i believe,anyway this album is a grower as opposed to a shower at first,for example it took me a while to love the track 'wolves' but repeate listens have shown me a great song.

Machine head have played the old card that usually annoys me by comparing this album to metallicas master of puppets,time will tell of course,but this is the first five out of five album of 2007,whether we are all telling our kids about it in 2027 remains to be seen.
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on 19 March 2007
Before Machine Head released "Ashes" they were on the brink of collapse, all their previous albums had been met with uncertainty from fans that Machine Head would never return to the glory they achieved in Burn My Eyes. After reforming late into 2001 the band set out to prove a point that they were indeed still a very credible heavy metal band. Along came "Ashes" and some people considered it to be the best machine head had released to date, they had restored faith in current fans and achieved in collecting a massive fanbase.

But many still considered machine head to have yet released anything groundbreaking, something which would set in stone the bands intentions. It is with their new album "The Blackening" that they really answer all their critics.

After multiple listens I have yet to find a single thing I do not like about this album. Rob Flynn's vocal performance is simply stunning, ranging from guttoral roars, to amazing harmonies with bassist Adam Duce. Its not only the vocals that impresses, The guitar work is incredible, riff upon riff of wonderous heaviness are pounded out, soloes squeal and screech their way onto every track. Nothing I have heard has ever even touched the talent on display here.

Being a drummer myself I was very impressed with the drumming on this album, Dave McClain really has great skill, double bass thunders out at super speed and elaborate patterns are woven to make the structure of the songs complete.

What Machine Head have produced here is their "Master of Puppets". II eagerly anticipate seeing them at Download this year and being able to take part in their equally stunning sets.

I seriously recommend that you buy this album, it will stun those who arent already a fan of machine head and amaze those who already are. Well done Machine head you have made my metal year!
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on 27 October 2008
Ok so maybe my title for this review is a little unfair, but it does annoy me the way Roadrunner continually rip off the fandbase of its artist roster, rererere-releasing albums but with little treats each time to make us part with our cash. by shining example take the Roots album by Sepultura. How many times was that released?

The Blackening is a superb album, seen by many as a return to form building on the stunning "Ashes of Empires."
The best thing about this re-release is the B-Sides and Rarities cd.
Machine Head have doen some corking tunes that have been hard to track down. Alan's On Fire - the bonus track from the digipak special edition of Burn My Eyes, and My Misery from the Demon Knight OST & The More Things Change Japanese import. although some tracks arent that great.. Colors is a fine example, what they HELL where they thinking?
Anyway, this is a nice repackaging, and although it sucks that Roadrunner have made us all buy the Blackening AGAIN, to get this rarities CD, there are more inclusions on this DVD than were on the DVD special edition that the Blackening originally came with, I just think its a shame we couldn't have had a b-sides and rarities album on its own (because i dont have the restraint neccessary to not buy something i already have, especially when enticed by a few extra bits and pieces - take all 5 reissued carcass albums for example).
Although i will put my money on The Blackening being released again at some point with an "Even more special edition" like they did with the 20years of Roadrunner re-release of Roots by Sepultura.. any old excuse eh..
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on 16 March 2007
This is my favorite MH album since Burn my eyes. TTAOE was a really good album but I thought there were a few weak songs on the album. Every song is strong on this album with every track bringing something new to the mix. The riffs are the most complex they have ever written and they have stuffed every track with a great solo to boot.If you are a new/old Machine head fan you wont be disappointed! This is surely one of the best albums of the 21st century!
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on 25 August 2011
Throughout their history as a band, Machine Head have been known to move with the times and ring the musical changes when necessary, and they've stayed on that path for their sixth album "The Blackening". This has led to some criticism of the band as 'trend-following', but on The Blackening they're playing very well thought-out, technically proficient music in an age where untalented music rules the charts and any songs that don't get to the hook within 15 seconds are either heavily edited or denied airplay altogether. Are the songs on this album long? Yes. Are they boring? Not in the slightest.

Frontman Robb Flynn remains on top form vocally, armed with one hell of a metal scream and associated range that quite a lot of other metal singers do not boast. But Flynn also shows diversity by breaking the screams up with occasional clean vocals, most of which are very well done; for proof, listen to his heroic-sounding singing on "Beautiful Mourning", "Now I Lay Thee Down" and the epic closing track "A Farewell To Arms", arguably the strongest song on the album and definitely the most dynamic. On guitar, Flynn has said that he sees himself and co-guitarist Phil Demmel as "a guitar team". On this album, they sound nothing short of that, trading riffs and solos and often playing double-harmony lines simultaneously, for example during the mid-section of the famous Dimebag tribute "Aesthetics of Hate".

Lyrically, the album presents the band's views on a range of things that were going on in society and the wider world back then, and that are pretty much still going on now. The lyrics discuss everything from social prejudice ("Slanderous") and conspiracy theories ("Clenching The Fists of Dissent") to organised religion ("Halo") and wartime disenchantment and rebellion ("A Farewell To Arms"). The one notable exception to these 'social commentary' subjects is third track "Aesthetics of Hate", which as previously mentioned is a direct tribute to murdered Pantera and Damageplan guitarist Dimebag Darrell and a one-fingered salute at William Grim and his backwards-thinking Iconoclast cronies. To the band's credit, what the album does not talk about lyrically is uninteresting, superficial subjects like alcohol, drugs or cheating, which is perhaps another reason why radio stations playing bland songs about bland subjects refuse to play much metal these days.

The rest of the rhythm section is made up of Dave McClain and Adam Duce, with Duce contributing occasional backing vocals that work well with Flynn's lead. True to form, McClain recorded six of his eight drum tracks in the first day of recording and you couldn't ask for more solid metal drumming on this album, with plenty of double kick-pedalling and lightning-speed fills to split the record apart. Duce's bass-playing holds up the bottom end of the record, and some of his phrasing is very melodic in places, bringing the bass to the foreground in songs like "Halo" and "Now I Lay Thee Down".

On the whole, a very good metal album and one that hopefully Machine Head won't be too knackered from touring to match on their upcoming seventh release "Unto The Locust"! In an interview just before The Blackening came out, Flynn said that the band pushed themselves as musicians harder than they'd ever pushed themselves before. Listening to it and comparing it with previous Machine Head releases, I can well believe that. So if you're a modern metal fan, then get yourself a copy of this and give it a listen, regardless of any preconceptions you might have of this band. And remember: songs don't have to be 3 and a half minutes long to be good. "Hallowed Be Thy Name" was over 7 minutes long and no-one seems to criticize that one for its length! Music can be 10 minutes long and take you on an epic musical rollercoaster ride, so to anyone who's skipping tracks on this album, LISTEN TO IT PROPERLY!
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on 29 December 2008
Yes that's right, it's in Japanese, but explainations for this can wait 'till after you've read my review.

The initial album, The Blackening, is absolutely wonderful. Of late I've been exploring more Classical, Baroque, Romantic and Folk variations on metal and just those genres as they stand, I started to feel I missed the whole metal thingy with the heaviness and the roaring, so this was great.
I don't particularly care if it's not 'true metal' or something or that it got such a hype last year that it's typical mainstream muck, because it sounds good and the like, therefore it's a good album.

Every song stands out with awesomeness but I think the opening track; Clenching the Fists of Dissent is the lasting favourite, Halo, Slanderous, A Farewell to Arms and Now I Lay Thee Down are great as well, and I find myself also loving Beautiful Mourning, Wolves and the indomitable Aesthetics of Hate, so it really has no dull moments. 8 tracks that fit wonderfully in playlists and as an album, it most definately fills the hole in my CD collection that is new, good, Heavy yet Melodic metal.

The dvd is fun. But I'd be repeating everyone else if I went on about it. I will say that it was great to see some live footage of them playing, and to see the videos in HIGH QUALITY yay.

The bonus CD is well.. occasionally it sucks. Like the Halo and Aesthetics.. demos, mere shells. Weirdlly, I quite like the ice-T cover, it made me laugh to say the least, I need to get round to buying Machine Head's Nu Metal stage, looks great *tehe*

Oh and for a band that writes a (brilliant) song about their anti-religios veiws, they mention God an awful lot:
"May the hands of God strike them down"-Aesthetics of Hate
"God let the angels die"-Beautiful Mourning
"God save us"-A Farewell to Arms
"I hope you burn in hell"-Aesthetics of Hate
"I'm screaming to God"-Now I Lay Thee Down

and mabye more. Still, maybe I'm missing the big picture of their aims with this, I suppose he must hate William Grim so much he wishes Hell and God existed in his mind so they could strike him down. "God let the angels die" might well be a metaphor for something, and stuff like that. I can't really be bothered to look into it. In any case it's nice to listen to.

So yes, japanese I tell you, all the titles and info came up in japanese when I "ripped" the album and bonus CD onto the computer, the songs are all still in whatever language Flynn is roaring/shouting/whispering in, so no harm done I suppose.

In conclusion, this is some Nice melodic/carnargy music with much soloing and finely crafted songs. The guitars are well molded together and the bass has some shining moments too, the drums are very admirable, though I'm not a drummer myself. Lyrics are inspiring and at times really energising, top notch effort.

I DEMAND MORE. (in 2011, when their next album is said to be released, but earlier would be welcome)

"Clench your fists and.." doo do doo dodo
Fight Fight Fight Fight
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on 2 April 2007
You know how bands who have been around for a while get complacent with their sound - how they just churn out more and more of the same because it worked the first time? Well it's all well and good if you're a tad boring, but I like my music to roll with the times. I like the bands I love to grab the industry by the balls and show people that they're capable of producing an epic album, several albums into their career. Machine Head have done this.

The Blackening is nothing other than a masterpiece. There are 8 songs of immense genius with lyrics so full of raw emotion you can practically feel Rob spitting them out. I got the album on the day of release and it's been in my car stereo ever since. My driving is suffering immeasurably due to the volume that it insists on being played at!

Up until now I haven't associated Machine Head with 10 minute epics - but the opening track 'Clenching the Fists of Dissent' is just that. The musicianship and songwriting talent seeps through with every chord. My favourite track is 'Aesthetics of Hate'. It's the kind of song that will take your mind off whatever it's meant to be on and thrust you into mosh mode. 'Now I Lay Thee Down' is another favourite with Rob's sultry voice showing what it can do *drool*. This album is all about quality metal.

If you're getting this album, make sure it's the one with the Bonus DVD as it's got a kick ass documentary on it which gives you a glimpse of the band on tour.

This album is gonna be my album of the year - and we still have 8 months left!
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on 30 March 2007
To describe this album as "boring" is to completely miss the point. This is not only the most dynamic album of Machine Head's career to date, it is an album that, more than anything else yet released since 2000, will go down in history as one of the greats. Like Metallica's "black" album, The Blackening redefines metal at a time when the genre is still struggling to throw off the shackles of commercial nu-metal. In one way, then, it is retrosepctive, a return to the musical and lyrical principles that gave us Ride The Lightning and Rust in Peace. But it is updated for 2007 - blisteringly brutal vocals, bone-crushing bass and riffs that now combine power with an intricacy normally associated with the progressive likes of Dream Theater. In short, Machine Head have come of age - wonderfully, spectacularly, and thankfully. Yes, the songs are epic - but you won't want to fast forward. These songs make you feel alive, make you feel like you've run a race. They are a return to a primeval feasting on rhythm and power; the best place to listen to them would surely be around a fire in the wilderness, growling along with Rob Flynn and screaming defiance at nature and the world. As the opener, "Clenching Fists of Dissent", erupts into life with a roar of "Waaaaaaar!", you know this album is goign to grab you by the neck, shake you, rattle you and leave you barely alive. And yet more alive. The outro to the same song is breathtaking in its simple movement between a 4/4 and 5/4 riff and this attention to head-moshing detail remains consistent throughout. Describing the songs has already been done by Kerrang (5 out of 5) and Metal Hammer (10 out of 10) on the band's website, so I will merely point out one moment in the album to wait for: at 4 minutes and 28 seconds on the track "Wolves" EVERY Machine Head fan is in for a real treat.
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on 28 March 2007
Ever since burn my eyes I've been more than disappointed with Machine Head because I know just how much potential these guys and have failed to live up to it. I guess such a fantastic debut was always going to be difficult to replicate in terms of the sheer quality of material. The successive set of cds such as the more things change, the burning red, supercharger etc, in my opinion were all guilty of starting off superbly and dying very quickly. I always thought that if machine head brought a best of cd out containing just the first 3 or 4 opening tracks they would be the world's greatest hard metal act.

Enter the The Blackening. This cd is something I've been waiting for, for a long time from these guys. The material on the cd is absolutely quality from start to finish. Rob Flynn has cranked up the speed and almost turned this album into a full on thrash assault. Of course there is a lot of mid-tempo detuned aggression with Flynn's signature growls, but thrown into to the mix is much more speed, lots of top-notch lead solo's and vocal/lead guitar harmonies making the blackening what I reckon to be their best effort yet. I guess some of the younger fans will vomit at tracks lasting 9 minutes plus and having to listen to lead solos, but to me it makes the blackening reminisent of late 80's/early 90's thrash for these reasons.

I totally recommend the blackening to any hard-metal fan, especially ones that have been waiting to see what Machine Head are really capable of. Enjoy.
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