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Album Review: Machine Head - Catharsis

25 January 2018 | 5:50 pm | Brendan Crabb

"A lack of coherence is often apparent."

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Main man Robb Flynn recently suggested that Catharsis could've been the album that followed 1999's polarising, perhaps unfairly overlooked The Burning Red. If one were to hypothesise an alternate universe whereby the metal veterans didn't nearly implode after career nadir Supercharger and never laid down The Blackening's dizzying epics, such a statement is not outlandish.

You have to admire their cojones, but ultimately Catharsis proves a mixed bag. The 15-track, 75-minute affair is bold in its execution and packs examples of grooving, visceral thrills and hooks (Volatile's raw fury, the anthemic title track, Lemmy tribute Razorblade Smile) as well as atmosphere (nine-minute behemoth Heavy Lies The Crown). Some filler should have been culled, but a lack of coherence is often apparent. Diversity is one thing, an absence of proper consideration regarding flow and sequencing another.

Some may argue Flynn has more front than Myer by reintroducing rapping on Triple Beam; bruising riff aside, a blunder documenting his drug dealing days that sometimes recalls the turgid King 810. Others may lambaste the almost-Dropkick Murphys-esque folk of Bastards and its admirable-but-somewhat embarrassing attempt to flip the script on racists and fearmongers. Vocal harmony-drenched acoustic ballad Behind A Mask, however, actually works and is a standout.

Overall, this is a curious, oddly intriguing-but-wildly uneven collection.

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