Customer Reviews: Through the Ashes of Empires
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on June 9, 2005
In 1994, Machine Head made 'Burn My Eyes,' a great (and very original)
heavy metal album. But from about that year until now, things went downhill
for the band. They still made albums, but almost no one was interested in
them. Starting with 'Burning Red,' an album that essentially put a dividing
line between fans, the group became nu-metal (or if not nu-metal, than
something very close to it) and also came close to copping other bands,
like Tool. M.H. risked being one of those bands that put out a strong debut
album, then didn't release anything else worthwhile for the rest of their

2004, however, is a new year, and a new album ('Through the Ashes of the
Empires') that might be the best album of their career. If it's not, then
it is at least, hands down, the most inspired, brutal, and all around
strongest Machine Head album in ten years. Some accuse them of jumping off the sinking nu-metal ship and onto the popular New Wave of American Heavy Metal. That is probably true, but, since the new sound is so awesome, I
hardly care. Plus, maybe it wasn't a desperate attempt to stay relevant--maybe Machine Head just got a kick in the butt and decided to go
back to their roots.

'Through the Ashes of the Empires' is sort of like a cross between new
Fear Factory and old school Sepultura, but the new album doesn't sound like every other
metal C.D. that is popular right now. There are no typical NWoAHM riffs
here, and no acoustic interludes. To add diversity, many of these songs
start differently, and some of them are a completely different speed than
others. Plus, singer Robert Flynn sometimes lowers his voice and even

Highlights include:

'Imperium' starts out lightly, with one guitarist playing slow, simple
strings in each headphone. After hearing the opening, the listener wonders
what kind of album they're in for...but all that changes around the
40-second mark, when the power chords make a booming entrance. On top of
that, the drummer (Dave McClain) sounds like he's trying to crack his snare
drum. The guitars speed up (with the drums hitting at the same time) and
the vocals begin around a minute and forty seconds into the song. Part of
this song is cleanly sung, part of it is yelled, and there's a really cool
part during a pause when you can hear Rob breathing in. Machine gun bass
drums end this song.
'Bite the Bullet' has a small smattering of drums at the beginning, then
Rob snarls like a demon and the guitars turn to heavy, rhythmic riffing.
'Left Unfinished' begins with noise from what sounds like a baby's toy or
crib. This abruptly ends, however, when Rob belts out like he's been
punched in the stomach ('Ew!') Then he launches into a tirade against his
mother and father (he was put up for adoption by his real parents). These
lyrics are very personal, heartfelt, and show that he's both pissed off and
hurt. At one point, he yells 'I'll never forget...parents that brought me
this pain.'
'Elegy' has a screeching intro (which sounds like pick slides), then the
guitars turn to heavy chugging. Rob almost croons again at the beginning
(and during the middle, which is soft). After the mid-section, the next
verse builds and erupts with a wall of metal.
'In the Presence of my Enemies' opens with slow, pounding drums. The
guitars on this song lurch so smoothly that they almost groove, and the
vocals are almost whispered, at first. A good, ten second guitar solo is
included, and near the song's end, the vocals become a capella (even though
Rob is barking as furiously as ever).
'Vim' has another drum intro, but this one is fast, a bit longer, and it
almost sounds like a drum machine. But it's when the guitars begin that I
know this might be the best song on the album. This whole song is very
fast, with a running beat, deft drumming and blinding guitars. After the
middle (which features guitar work that's even faster than usual), there's
a speedy, two part solo that keeps up with the pace of the song. Near the
end, the listener can really tell how crazy the drum work was during this
'Descend the Shades of Night' is partially acoustic (both the intro and
outro is), with more proper singing.

Megadeth are another band that experimented with and commercialized their
sound. And, just as Megadeth did in 2004, Machine Head made a triumphant
return with a killer C.D. But where do they go from here? Have they come
full circle, and reached the pinnacle of their career?

I believe both bands are at the top of their game, and have brought their
careers full circle, but I also believe that they still have plenty of good
material left in them. Granted, this album raises the bar high, but I think
if Machine Head keep the sound they have now, and aim their sights high,
they will succeed in making another great album.

But, even if they don't ever make another C.D. of this quality, that
doesn't mean that you can't enjoy 'Through the Ashes of the Empires.' The
bottom line is this is great metal and I highly recommend it.
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on November 13, 2003
Man, did Roadrunner USA mess up by letting these guys go. This album might be the best metal release of the year. For those claiming that Machine Head isn't real metal, get over it and take a listen - if this isn't metal, I don't know what is. Bone-crushing riffs, intense drums, and some pretty technical time changes (new for MH) make this album a must-have for any metalhead. Robb Flynn's voice has become, over the years, much more polished melodically, while losing NONE of the spine-tingling roar that he's been known for. The guitar tone is back up to overdrive, something they were known for on their debut album, Burn My Eyes. Phil Demmel, former co-axeman with Robb in the 80's thrash metal outfit Vio-Lence, has joined the band full-time and isn't afraid to unleash some flat out jaw-dropping riffs. Phil and Robb trade solos in songs such as "Vim" and "Descend the Shades of Night". Dave McClain on drums pounds out the rhythms with more ferocity than ever before, exhibiting some almost Fear Factory-esque double kicks on the album's infernal opener, "Imperium". Adam Duce is singing backup vocals again, adding his rasp to the bludgeoning ending of "In the Presence of My Enemies". A track-by-track review:
1. Imperium (10/10) - Quite possibly the best opener MH has ever done - this song bounces along at a frenetic pace with Gothenburg guitars during the bridge! A stunning opening track that will leave you short of breath and begging for more.
2. Bite the Bullet (9/10) - Robb is spitting venom into the microphone in this one. Starts off with mellow verses, but has a bone-smashing pre-chorus and chorus.
3. Left Unfinished (7/10) - Maybe the weakest song on the album, but still damn good! Moves along at a fast pace, but has a repetitive chorus that slows it down too much. Great lyrics though - very moving.
4. Elegy (9/10) - Very creepy sounding chorus in this short midpaced number.
5. In the Presence of My Enemies (10/10) - Quite possibly the most revolutionary song Machine Head has ever done. Robb's lyrics are psychotic, and the main riff is about as heavy as it gets. Phil's solo is slightly twisted. The ending of the song is a throwback to Burn My Eyes, almost fooling you into thinking the song is over, but then kicking it back into overdrive for a brutal closing. An amazing track.
6. Days Turn Blue to Grey (10/10) - A great song with an unorthodox approach. Starts out with a rocklike tempo. The bridge is an eye-opener with its tremendous melody, transitioning seamlessly into another crushing ending.
7. Vim (9/10) - A strange song. The way the words are layered on the rhythms almost doesn't click in my head. This is an unusual approach for MH, but it works very well. Great solos in the end and tremendous drumwork by Dave McClain throughout.
8. All Falls Down (9/10) - With Robb's mellow singing, the beginning of this one almost sounds like a b-side from Supercharger.. and then it kicks into a thick, crunchy riff with the trademark Machine Head harmonics. The bridge here is stunning as well - Adam and Robb make it unforgettable with their mega-melodic back-and-forth tradeoffs.
9. Wipe the Tears (9/10) - A very cool song with great lyrics, one of the better choruses on the album, and an awesome bridge with twin-guitar melody.
10. Descend the Shades of Night (10/10) - Awesome song! This one showcases the tremendous melody these guys are capable of. The solos in this one are terrific - Flynn and Demmel layer their melodies perfectly for a bittersweet ending to an amazing album.
Winners: Imperium, In the Presence of My Enemies
All in all, a great effort from the Machine Head boys. Someone please sign these guys so they can get the US recognition they deserve! And if you haven't seen their live show, prepared for some pure brutality.
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on April 17, 2004
This is classic Machine Head - heavy and dark thrash metal! This album could easily be the followup to 'The More Things Change' and it is very similar in sound, style, and attitude. I am very happy that Machine Head decided to return to their roots after their last two disappointing albums. My favorite tracks are 'Imperium', which is classic Machine Head, and 'Elegy', which is a dark and brooding tune.
The album deserves 4 stars but I gave it 5 because I am so glad that Machine Head returned to their original sound and song-writing style. Great album, pick it up right away!
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HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon October 25, 2004
I guess jumping on one bandwagon gives license to jump on another, or maybe Robb Flynn has finally pulled his head out of his butt. Seeing how the rap-rock thing has died out (thank god) and a heavy trend is now in tow, Machine Head more or less return to form with Through the Ashes of Empires. Opening track "Imperium" is the bludgening assault that is reminiscent of their classic debut "Burn My Eyes", with Robb's voice sounding the best it has in the past few years and the best guitar work (from new guitarist Phil Demmel) since Logan Madder was on board. Other standout tracks include "Bite the Bullet", "In the Presence of My Enemies", and the closing "Descend the Shades of Night" are solid and about ten times better than almost anything from "Supercharger". Yes it's heavier than their past two albums, but I wouldn't exactly call "Through the Ashes of Empires" a return to form for Machine Head. Hopefully this is just a taste of things to come for the band, and Robb has finally decided not to follow any more bandwagons.
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on July 23, 2004
As any true Machine Head fan knows, since the release of the epic BURN MY EYES, the press and some fans have been less than kind of the bands ever changing sound, going so far as to even cry sell out when they released the misunderstood BURNING RED, one would assume this is due in part to Ross Robinsons name being on the production credits. Obviously these people have never experienced the 'Head live, or they would have seen the folly of their ways after being savagly and brutally assaulted by the pure power of every song live. But, even after a beating like that, theres bound to still be naysayers...well, TTAOE is the bands response to those non belivers.

Originally released overseas in 2003, TTAOE made such a commotion and had metal fans salivating so bad that Roadrunner Records US had no choice but to pick the band back up and release the album stateside,with a bonus track NOT found on any of the expensive UK or Japanese versions.

The album combines all the best elements of their back catalog. The brutally raw metal attack of BURN MY EYES, the groove and 'bounce' of, well, everything they do!, BURNING RED and the maturity that comes with time and experience, and lets not forget the pure, unadulterated rage of a band that broke barriers in the mid 90's and still never got the total respect they rightly deserved!

Stand out tracks would have to be IMPERIUM, a true metal classic in the vein of Davidian, the onslought of BITE THE BULLET with its frantic whispered lines and shouted (growled?) chorus and the epic finality of album closer DESCEND THE SHADES OF NIGHT. It must be heard to be belived! And lets not forget the bonus US track that was actually put into the track listing and not tagged on the end, SEASONS WITHER. Amazing.

In short? Just pick this f***er up! What with the NWOAHM blistering our ears, Machine Head is truely one of its origionaters and demand your attention!

True fans though, should pick up the 2 disc version so they can add the bonus demos to their collection. As an extra bonus, it even has the video for IMPERIUM as an enhanced element!
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on December 16, 2005
More than anything, the main reason I enjoy this album is because of the powerful messages in each of the songs: "don't give in, don't give up", "I will fight for those I love, I will fight for those I care" are just a few of the awesome lines you will discover. I just cannot get enough of it. I listen to this c.d. every time I have a bad day for strength, or on normal days just for inspiration. No other metal album I own can do that for me.

Besides the powerful song writing, this album is heavy, really heavy. Simply put, the kind of heaviness that makes you clench your fist, grit your teeth, and nod your head slowly, kind of heaviness. The sonic guitar solo's on songs like "Vim" and "Seasons Whither" are incredible. The drumming in every song is so precise and distinctive, you can hear spaces between drum beats, which adds to the heavy sound I mentioned earlier.

Although I do not own any other Machine Head albums, I can assure you that negative comparisons with their previous albums ultimately cannot take away from the excellence of Through the Ashes of Empires, one of the mightiest metal albums ever created by a group of artists, music and lyrics.
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on February 20, 2006
I liked this album on the first listen, the first 3 tracks blew me away, but it took me a while to get into the rest, but I find that always happens with really good CDs.

The musicianship, songwriting and lyrics on this album are simply top notch. This is what professional musicians should be making, real music!

From the epic opener 'Imperium' all the way through to 'Descend the Shades of Night' Machinehead show you how to make crushing, melodic, inspirational metal!

These guys absolutely rocked me live (my ears were ringing for 3 days!)

Get this CD, you will not regret it!

Note: If you can get the special edition with the bonus track 'Seasons Wither' on it, then do so - that track alone is worth the price of a CD!
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on June 19, 2004
I came onboard the MH boat by "The Burning Red", although it was a good album, I never really "latched" on. Then came this. This album is by far one of the best metal (not NU-metal) albums to bless my ears with its beautiful sounds. This album has made MH my favorite band, hands down. Pure, raw, and addictive, this album will live in metal infamy. To all those claiming this is "Nu-metal", you have no appreciation for REAL music. This is a masterpiece, and I must admit that this album has graced my life with its presence. Because of this album, I now have a much higher appreciation for all of the other MH albums. This band is the Beethoven of metal. So, please, do youself a favor and buy it, you will not regret it.
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on January 4, 2005
A barrage of guitar and drum tones and brutal riffs not seen since their 1994 debut "Burn My Eyes". I've remained loyal to these guys since then and enjoyed parts of the albums in between, but this one was a pleasant surprise, starting off loud and continuing through a range of tone and emotion that shows how they have matured as musicians.

Essential moments:

4:39 on track 1, where an already crushing song gets a second wind with an amazing finish.

2:55 on track 2, defiance and aggressive riffing that demand to be played at the highest volume possible. Only another few bars of the closing riff beating on my brain could have made this one better.

Track 3 is a blistering song with an awesome chorus proving there is always room for harmony vocals to flesh things out more.

Track 8 features hardcore riffage and great vocal tone, especially when Rob sings "in grace you'll be no more".

Check this album out if you haven't already!
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on October 29, 2003
This year now belongs to Machine Head. Or rather, the revival of the old machine head. The Burning Red was good, but not great. And even for the most biggest fans of machine head, it was hard to argue that Supercharger was a good album. It had its moments, Bulldozer is crushing, Trephination is killer. But for the most part, Supercharger was extremely weak. Machine Head fans were in a state of dismay. What direction were the band gonna take after this album? Lets just say, they went in EXACTLY the right direction - back to the past!!!
Right from the start of Imperium - the albums epic opener, you know the old Machine Head are back. The riffs are the heaviest since Burn My Eyes, and rap-metal vocals are nowhere to be seen, er...heard. The guitar solos are back and better than ever. It seems being reunited with his long time friend Phil Demmel from the days of Violence, is the best thing thats happened to Robb Flynn for a long time. It is clear that with this album he has regained his love for crushing metal. And replacing Arhue with Phil, is the best thing they could have done. And Dave Mclain shines once again on this album with a flawless performance with the sticks. Although, its hard to recall a song where he hasnt been perfect.
But what sets this album apart from every other MH album, is that it combines Robbs melodic voice (something somewhat missing from MHs fist two albums,)with his deafening screams perfectly. All while reviving the heaviness of Burn My Eyes.
If you're slightly interested in metal, there is no reason not to buy this album. If your saying "i liked machine heads first two cds but now they are crap, so i wont like this" i challenge you to listen to 'Imperium' and not absolutely fall in love.
From the opening 'HEAR ME NOW' scream at the start of 'Imperium', to the 'FREE ME' scream at the end of the 8 minute closer 'Decend The Shades Of Night', this album will revive your love for machine head, and good old bone crushing metal.
This is Machine Heads finest hour. (...).
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