Machine Head blew out of the gates in 1994 with their debut album, "Burn My Eyes", widely considered one of the best metal albums of the '90s. After several albums in which MH experimented with their style (with mixed results), many wondered if they could ever achieve the heights reached earlier in their career. As "The Blackening" proves, they can even surpass it.
Perhaps the fans have been unfair to Machine Head....I thought that their follow-up to their initial album "The More Things Change..." was a very solid metal platter, and other subsequent releases, such as "Burning Red" and "Supercharger" were still decent, just flirting with other styles such as rap-metal and industrial, which didn't really gel with the bands' super-heavy, aggresssive neo-thrash metal. What makes "The Blackening" so special is the fact that the band have finally settled into playing what they want to play, and have begun pushing themselves musically into almost progressive metal directions- lengthy, complex and epic compositions, intense instrumental interludes and interplay between instruments and band members, and crazy, out-of-control shred soloing. They absolutely blow their previous work out of the water with this disc, and it is quite an exhilirating ride, at times.
Lyrically, conceptually, and musically, this is miles above anything they have ever done. One listen to "The Aesthetics Of Hate" was enough for me...classic metal nihilism and agression, super heavy riffing, and a huge, intense crescendo of almost neo-classical-style guitar harmony combined with a modern "metalcore" sensibility building to a huge climax. Very, very cool. This is MH at their best, proving that they can hold their own against any other metal band out there. Awesome. Highest recommendation. I've been a fans since the beginning, and this is the Machine Head album I've always wanted.