Sunday, December 18, 2011

#30: Machine Head - Unto The Locust

I fell into the trap. I'd read some less than positive things about Unto The Locust (Roadrunner) before I actually heard it. So I didn't listen with an open mind. I was looking for flaws. I found some and they overshadowed the album in my mind for a while. When it came time to make my AOTY list I knew it was good enough to be honoured but I wasn't sure where to put it. I knew it wouldn't be as high as The Blackening (#5 that year I think) but I had to listen to it some more before making that decision. I listened to it eight or more times over the course of a couple days. In doing so, I found myself enjoying the album more and more each time. By the end I was singing along to the anthemic choruses, abusing the steering wheel (I do that a lot), and just generally feeding off the energy being thrown off by Rob Flynn and co. I found myself reveling in the immensity and scope, anticipating the solos and slowly forgetting any of the negative stuff I had read. Unto The Locust sounds undoubtedly like Machine Head. Musically, MH do have a sound all their own. They are easy to recognize. But what really typifies Machine Head and this album is Flynn's vocals. His distinct gravel-throated battlecry is a rallying point for the album. It sounds human. That humanity is what draws the listener in and makes you feel like you can relate to it. It works to such great effect that despite my lack of fondness for Flynn's "singing" parts, (ex. "Darkness Within") I found myself singing right along with him. However, I have to apply some demerit points due to certain vocals parts. The "sangre sani" part of "I Am Hell (Sonata in C#) would have served better as its own track so I could just skip over it and the need for the children's "choir" in "Who We Are" is lost on me. The rest of the track is fine though. Also, with regards to the bonus tracks, I just skipped them almost every time. I've never been a Judas Priest fan ("The Sentinel"), MH covering Rush just seems odd to me, ("Witch Hunt") and the acoustic version of "Darkness Within" doesn't have any solos!  But really, those are minor inconveniences on an otherwise stellar release. As a 7 track album it's pretty kick ass. Kick ass enough that I put it on my Christmas list. Not just good enough that I would buy it good, but good enough for a gift good.

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