Written by Alex Mrkonjic
Beyond the Pale
Hope Begets Hope
Screaming At The Sun
Behind A Mask
Heavy Lies The Crown
Grind You Down
Release Date: January 26, 2018
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
MACHINE HEAD IS:
Robb Flynn - Lead vocals & guitars
Phil Demmel - Guitars & backing vocals
Jared MacEachern - Bass & backing vocals
Dave McClain - Drums
Catharsis is 75 minutes long, making it one of the most exhausting metal records I have listened to within the last year or so, which I love. Right off the bat, you get a classic headbanger in “Volatile” and at the beginning of the song you hear the words “Fuck The World” which made me think “Ahh so this is where we are going with this record”. This song is filled with crunchy riffs and amazing drum beats that we have heard from Machine Head before, anyone who loves a classic Machine Head headbanger will instantly love this song. The brutal assault continues with the title track, the riff heavy “Beyond The Pale”, and one of my favourites, the historical epic “Heavy Lies The Crown” which tells the tale of Louis XI, also known as the ‘Spider King’ of France.
Machine Head also goes in a few new directions as well on this album. Frontman Robb Flynn explained "This album is like a movie... a really long movie... Lord Of The Rings-type stuff! There are a lot of special songs on this record, and of course, whenever you finish an album, you always feel proud, but this time... we've got something really special here. We can feel it. We know it. Some people may not dig where we're going, and that's always the case,... who cares? We dig it. Nine albums deep, it would be really easy for us to coast and write some middle of the road shit that won't offend anybody."
I really didn’t understand what he meant until after I had listened to the album from start to finish. It really does feel like a movie, but at the same time, like some movies, it did have its down sides in some ways. The song “Bastards” is a prime example, a song and direction I don’t hear from them very often, I wouldn’t call it a “ballad” but it’s as close to one as it gets. However, I felt it took away some of the momentum from the beginning of the album. Songs like this always take me a few listens before I get hooked on them so hopefully it does. For now however, the song just kind of bored me. “Behind A Mask” is kind of in the same territory, but I do appreciate what they are trying to accomplish with these songs. The vocal harmony between Flynn and bassist Jared MacEachern is most notable on both of these tracks.
The album ends off on a edgy note with bone-crushing riffs in songs like “Psychotic”, “Grind You Down” and “Razorblade Smile”, a tribute to late great Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead. All in all, there is something here for everyone. Whether you are into groove-oriented Machine Head ragers, or want something more diverse, it’s all here. Catharsis to me is not as powerful as Bloodstone & Diamonds, but I still like it all the same. Looking forward to picking this up.
Overall Rating: 9.1/10