Machine Head

Machine Head

The Burning Red

Roadrunner

What the hell is “new metal,” anyways? Music journalese aside damned if I know. But, man, is it big with the kids, an aggro music genre that’s decidedly more urban than suburban, hence (in a marketing sense) more baggy jeans than black ones. With the subsequent commercial success of Korn, Limp Bizkit, and the Deftones, it’s enough to make a grizzled metalhead beyond-indignant about the erroneous “metal” tag, but that’s music marketing for ya. Besides, a music critic is supposed to critique solely on content, not form….

Which brings us to The Burning Red , the latest platter from Machine Head, a rising “new metal” kingpin that’s been afforded a good deal of critical — if not necessarily as much commercial — success. But that could all change with this one, because, frankly, it’s accessible and it smokes. Purportedly, Machine Head wanted to make the melodic moments on The Burning Red as melodic as possible and the heavy ones the heaviest, and succeed they do. Like their urban-core contemporaries, Machine Head’s guitarists chug to a deliberately violent backbone, with vocalist Robert Flynn scowling ‘n’ growling about all those traumatic moments that accompany life at the top; unlike their contemporaries, the California quartet’s rhythms don’t always go hip(pity)-hop. For all the browbeating that commences, there’s an acutely sensitive side to The Burning Red , made all the more apparent by Robert Smith-esque swirl-guitar melodicism – wounded psyche schmaltz, for sure, but it sure is tasty.

Older ‘edbangers might find it a bit difficult to swallow, but again, the kids will have their say. And mark my words, those same kids are gonna’ make Machine Head’s cover of “Message in a Bottle” a big (pants) hit.

Roadrunner Records, 536 Broadway, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10012; http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com

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