First Guess

Brutally honest reviews and commentary on the latest music

‘Bloodstone & Diamonds’ Is Ambitious, But Very Disjointed

Bloodstone_&_Diamonds_album_coverAlbum: Bloodstone & Diamonds
Artist: Machine Head
Genre: Thrash Metal
Release Date: 7 November 2014
Official Website: MachineHead1.com

Diagnosis: Bloodstone & Diamonds wears its ambition on its sleeve with songs like “Now We Die,” “Sail into the Black” and “Imaginal Cells” clearly trying new things to switch things up. When they succeed, it’s incredibly effective in warranting more than a few listens, but some songs take a steep dip in quality and with the album being as long as it is, it makes me wonder why they didn’t cut down a bit. It’s almost as if for every new thing they try they feel they have to throw something in that’s similar to their usual style. Machine Head is as brutal as they’ve ever been, but the album is inconsistent and lacks direction. Instead of weeding out the ideas they had that didn’t fit in with the rest, it seems like they kept every single idea they had during the writing process and threw it all together. Listening to the album in full is difficult.

The Highlights: “Now We Die” is a great song that is carried by its hauntingly memorable string section, providing the necessary emotional touch to an otherwise very aggressive song. Things get much darker on “Night of Long Knives” and “Sail into the Black,” the latter being a surprising change in sound that I thought was well executed, with its satisfying build up to a more energetic closing. “Night of Love Knives” is dark, but much more energetic and aggressive with its powerfully loud drums and gruesome lyrical imagery. “In Comes the Flood” stands out for all its political references and suggestion that an uprising is inevitable, but I don’t feel like the topic fits in with what the rest of the album has going for it. On the other hand, the song has a really catchy chorus and the best guitar solo, so it’s hard to ignore.

Final Thoughts: Bloodstone & Diamonds has a lot of ups and downs, but where it unfortunately steeps its lowest is at the end. When I hear an instrumental is going to be on an album, I usually look forward to it, but I don’t see how “Imaginal Cells” can even be called an instrumental. There’s no singing, but the talking clearly overshadows the actual music and the music itself is pretty bland. The decision to include those vocal tracks on a so-called instrumental was just bizarre. “Damage Inside” and “Take Me Through the Fire” are completely forgettable. “Game Over” sounds like a punk-rock song– I have no idea what they were trying to do there, but it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Score: 5 out of 10

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