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Machine Head

Q: How does a band recover from lackluster album sales, a departed guitarist and broken ties with their record company?

A: Prove the world wrong!

Machine Head has returned from these depths with Through the Ashes of Empires, serving up a major Bay Area beat-down.

Produced by front-man Robb Flynn, the album is a thunderous display of melodic brutality. While moving forward musically, Machine Head has managed to positively reinvent the neck-breaking sound that made them famous.

"HEAR ME NOW," roars Flynn, kicking into the album's opening track, "Imperium." From drummer Dave McClain's pounding double-bass to Adam Duce's heart-rupturing bass lines to the god-like guitar tag team of Flynn and Phil Demmel, Through the Ashes of Empires is a heavy metal masterpiece.

Lyrically, song themes deal with Flynn's resentment toward his birth-parents. In the chorus of the track "Left Unfinished," Flynn declares, "I'll never forget, life you disdain / So to the parents who bore me this pain ... " Flynn also cries in the opening track, "All my life, always I've felt alone / Conditioned to believe that I'm always wrong." Other themes range from domination to death, displayed in the album's beautifully orchestrated ending track, "Descend the Shades of Night."

As a producer, Flynn was able to extract the very best from his bandmates as well as himself. Each member of the group recorded some of his finest musical efforts for the album. McClain's ultra-unique drumming is well highlighted throughout the album, especially in tracks such as "Bite the Bullet" and "Vim," while Duce's bass lines reflect those of Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler. Shredding and loud, the guitar duo of Flynn and Demmel are unmatched in their art.

Can anybody say album of the year?

More by Jon Hobson

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