By Dr. Abner Mality

Will MACHINE HEAD ever figure out who they are? It doesn’t look like it and “Of Kingdom and Crown” (I refuse to keep using the O with the strike-through) won’t do anything to clear up the confusion. I suspect the constant vacillation between styles is actually their defining characteristic. While that might work for some bands, I’m just really tired of it when it comes to MACHINE HEAD.

Are they emo-drenched nu-metal made for radio consumption? Or are they crushing modern thrash metal with hardcore touches? Both styles appear here, but at the end of the day, it’s the nu-metal stuff that wins out and that leaves me cold. They start with the 10 minute plus “Slaughter the Martyr” where we get traces of just about everything in their arsenal, but the song is just too long and takes too long to get going. MACHINE HEAD have done epics before, but this is not the best example. However, second track “Choke On the Ashes of Your Hate” absolutely slaps and is as intense and powerful as anything they’ve ever done, including first album “Burn My Eyes”. The drumming in particular is just monstrous on this track and that instrument to me seems to dominate this whole album.

From there, this is all over the place. We can generally dispose of the three brief interlude type tracks...nobody picks up an album to hear these kind of tracks. “Become the Firestorm” is a most peculiar cut that tries to cover all the MACHINE HEAD bases and doesn’t do too bad a job of it. From there, though, we get a lot of the sappier “emotional” nu-metal cuts like “My Hands Are Empty” and “Unhallowed”. Well played and produced, these are not in my wheelhouse at all, but if you’re into stuff like KORN and 5FDP, you might like it more. Usually there’s at least one good riff or breakdown per song, but they are often frustratingly brief.

To go into every track on this hour long opus is not really necessary. Rob Flynn and his boys are trying to satisfy every part of their fanbase here, but “Of Kingdom And Crown” is too choppy for anybody to get behind 100%.