In 1994 Machine Head took the world of metal firmly by the balls with their debut album Burn My Eyes. It caught the attention of metalheads young and old and quickly earned the band acclaim. To this day, it is still considered by many as one of the finest metal records of all time. Sadly, this has meant that each new album the band has produced has been judged against this behemoth. Despite this, in my humble opinion, I don’t feel Machine Head have ever recorded a bad album, albeit some have been weaker than others, for example, The Blackening was well loved by fans whereas Supercharger was met with disappointment.

Delivering us Catharsis, their 9th album and follow-up to 2014’s well-received Bloodstone and Diamonds, the question on everyone’s lips is what direction will Robb Flynn take us in? Well, to answer that, you need venture no further than the opening line of “Volatile” as Flynn bellows “Fuck the world!”, backed up by hard guitar riffs and thundering drum beats, in true Machine Head fashion. Although a little generic, it’s a fantastic opening track. Changing the tempo for the album’s second track, “Catharsis” has a slow build-up before sliding almost seductively into a pretty kickass guitar riff, increasing the memento of the tune further into a full-blown groove metal extravaganza before toning back the momentum again.

Not all tracks are as enjoyable; “Triple Beam” falls flat to the standards you would expect from the band. “Bastards” is a touching message to Flynn’s children about not taking shit and refusing to “let the bastards drag you down”. It is a side of Flynn we have not seen before, and demonstrates that there is so much more to Machine Head than meets the eye. “Behind the Mask” is very different to what you would expect from Flynn, a chilled-out, slightly hypnotic tune. I could go on and have something to say about each track that Catharsis has to offer, but the ones mentioned give an indication of the surprising diversity this recording has to offer.

Clocking in at around 75 minutes, this is a 15-track epic! There is a lot going on here with Machine Head experimenting with different styles. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but the truth is there’s lots of variety to be enjoyed. I would best describe it like a fine wine – it gets better with time, so my recommendation would be to give this the time it deserves.

Catharsis Track Listing:

01. Volatile
02. Catharsis
03. Beyond the Pale
04. California Bleeding
05. Triple Beam
06. Kaleidoscope
07. Bastards
08. Hope Begets Hope
09. Screaming at the Sun
10. Behind the Mask
11. Heavy Lies the Crown
12. Psychotic
13. Grid you Down
14. Razorblade Smile
15. Eulogy

Run Time: 1:14:26
Release Date: January 19, 2018

Check out the band’s video for their single “Kaleidoscope”.