This is really the seventh full-length from Machine Head? It’s crazy to think that there was a time when it was doubtful they would survive through the nu-metal craze of the ’90’s yet here they are after their second coming with 2003’s Through the Ashes of Empires bigger than ever, stronger than all and being handpicked to open for Metallica.

Since TTAOE, Machine Head rediscovered themselves, found a songwriting structure that worked and took the time to create songs and albums on their own terms, regardless of the time it took.

Like their last two, Unto the Locust opens in similarly spectacular fashion as “I Am Hell (Sonata in C#)” and a chant from Robb Flynn straight out of The Omen begins. Is it possible for Machine Head to sound more intense and focused because that’s what “I Am Hell” is telling me. It’s in three parts and they’re all equally a step beyond for Machine Head. “Sangre Sani” is the most melodic and angelic Machine Head have ever been. “I Am Hell” is the thrashiest they’ve been in a long time with one of the most aggressive barks Flynn has laid down in awhile during its’ opening and “Ashes To The Sky” perfects the massive breakdown.

The classical guitar intro to “Be Still And Know” is reminiscent of early Megadeth but when the song kicks into high gear, it’s simply mind blowing. At just under five minutes, it’s probably the only track on here you’ll be able to listen to just once to soak in the greatness it holds.

Drummer Dave Mcclain sounds better than ever as he pummels away the opening to “Locust” and merges with the guitar double threat that is Flynn and Phil Demmel. “Locust” has so many elements of classic machine Head that the song is its’ own “best of”. Those signature guitar licks that have been apart of Machine Head’s sound since Burn My Eyes are so prevalent here and then there’s the groove that bassist Adam Duce lays down in the middle below the Metallica-ish guitar shreds. I’ve said it before but if that band from San Francisco ever decide to call it a day, Machine Head sound more than willing to take the crown.

If you listen through this once, and think “I was expecting more…”, do yourself a favor and give it another try. Most Machine Head records demand repeated listens and Unto The Locust is no exception. I was a little underwhelmed (probably because it’s a lot of music to take in) at first but on repeated listen, it’s a fine entry to the already 21st Century Machine Head catalog and stands solidly alongside The Blackening and TTAOE. New and old fans will not be disappointed.

Unto The Locust is out now.

Grade: B+

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