September 9, 2022 Machine Head – ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN (Album Review)
Celebrating over thirty years of performing at the top flight of Metal, Machine Head are back with their new album ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN. Released on August 26, 2022 through Nuclear Blast Records and Imperium Recordings, the band’s latest effort is an interesting concept album surrounding two characters Ares and Eros. To give you a little backstory, Character #1 Ares: (pronounced Aries) is our main, who loses the love of his life (Amethyst) and goes on a murderous rampage against the vile sect responsible for her murder; Character #2 Eros: (pronounced Arrows) is the perpetrator, who loses his mother to a drug overdose and becomes radicalized in the aftermath. Eros goes off the deep end manifesting his own killing spree. Interested yet? Read on to see how it all plays out…
As mentioned, in the game over three decades now, ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN is also a milestone because it marks the band’s tenth overall studio album. Their first ever concept record, it all starts with “Slaughter the Martyr” – a 10 minute long demonstration of Machine Head at their finest. Melodic yet haunting the track opens with delayed clean guitars that feel ominous yet emotional. “Broken down on my knees” cries Rob Flynn (founder and vocalist) as the theme continues until the vocals are joined in unison around the two minute twenty mark. At this point the track begins to evolve leaving you on the edge before the signature Machine Head entrance appears leaving an impression, but perhaps not the outcome anticipated.
Next up we have “Choke on the Ashes of Your Hate” and there is a direct impact here with classic Machine Head vibes, harmonics galore. An instant thrash assault that has a catchy chorus without being too repetitive. Truthfully this song feels like a throwback to the ’00s Machine Head sound and it is sure to turn heads of fans and critics alike. This is while “Become the Firestorm” possesses a Black Metal vibe that compliments the Machine Head sound with an interesting spin of blast beats and tremolo picking that may be typical yet fits so well.
Excellent tapped twin guitars compliment the aforementioned carnage.
Giving a needed break from the carnage, “My Hands Are Empty” starts with a beautiful intro that is heartfelt yet dark and haunting. However, it is not long before evolving and progressing towards the classic Machine Head direction. This is while “Unhallowed” instantly grabs you and offers a humbling experience that sounds fresh and inspiring. Similar sounding to material Machine Head have released on previous two albums but it’s not a complaint, because the track feels less unhinged compared to earlier tracks on the album. A lot to process, there are still plenty of other stand out moments which include “Rotten,” but also the closer, “Arrows in Words from the Sky.”
Simply outstanding, ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN could be the strongest album Machine Head has released in over fifteen years. It really has some instant classics and for those who tastes levitates towards both melodic and heavy undoubtedly enjoy ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN and want to revisit it time and time again. An instant addition to your gym playlist, you have to wish you are able to see them tour this album. And that is why Cryptic Rock gives ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN 5 out of 5 stars.