Machine Head’s new album Of Kingdom And Crown is not just an achievement for the band but, for Robb Flynn on his own. After the hit and miss of Catharsis which saw the band lose half its members (the absolute greats Dave McClain and Phil Demmel, you will definitely be missed) and divide the fan base a bit, it would’ve been an easy way out to either hang up Machine Head and try something solo. Instead, Robb, who is never one to play it safe (just look to the Machine Head catalog for proof), took the time to craft an album that not only stands up to the great ones in the band’s history (Burn My Eyes and The Blackening) but, Of Kingdom And Crown takes things to a different level of epic heaviness with his first concept album. And it’s one hell of an album and ride!
Of Kingdom And Crown is an absolute vicious and and vengeful album that hits home in ways you wouldn’t expect. The concept of the album allows the listener to become one of the two characters in the story and or both depending on how you listen to the album. I stress that this is an “album” that deserves to be played as such. The concept of the album as told by Robb goes “There’s character number one, named Ares [pronounced Aries]. He loses the love of his life, Amethyst, and goes on a murderous rampage against the perpetrators who killed her. Character number two, named Eros [pronounced Arrows], he is the perpetrator, the one who killed Amethyst. He loses his mother to a drug overdose, and in his downward spiral, he becomes radicalised by this charismatic leader and he goes on his own murderous rampage. The lyrics detail how their lives intertwine.” And now that you have that in mind we can get to the songs.
The first song on the album “Slaughter The Martyr” is an absolute banger and epic! It’s a ten minute song that doesn’t feel like it’s that long. It not only introduces the listener to the characters and story, this song is seriously a beast. One of those that when played live, will no doubt be a fan favorite. “Choke On The Ashes Of Your Hate” is another classic sounding MH track. There is a serious ferociousness to this track. One of the highlights on this track is the guitar solo by Vogg. He adds his stamp to Machine Head on this song. “Become The Firestorm” continues the blazing trail that started the album. This one has some killer blast beats and guitar work that hits on that classic sound again. As the album continues, it takes a turn with “My Hands Are Empty.” This track brings in more of the “epic” feeling with the way the almost choral opening starts things off before becoming one of the more thought provoking songs on the album. The song while it fits within the realm of the story, it’s also societal commentary that fits with today quite well. The “epicness” continues with “Unhallowed.” This song has a really cool groove to it while still being a head banger. Lyrically and vocally, you can tell Robb wanted to try different things and it all works. Oh and the solos on this song… DAMN!!! This is one of my favorite songs on the record. “Kill Thy Enemies” is a straight up heavy song that brings the album’s intensity back up a bit. And then, “No Gods. No Masters” comes in and knocks your teeth out. The chorus has this catchiness to it without being tacky. I personally look forward to hearing this one live when Machine Head tours the states. “Bloodshot” is a very direct and heavy track. It’s got an almost punk rock feel to it and then breaks into a groove driven song. “Rotten” is another direct and groove heavy track only on this one it’s more anthemic. I could see this one being worked into the setlist and being a fun one to play and hear live. Closing out the album is “Arrows In Words From The Sky” as song which Robb has said “is maybe the most hopeful song we’ve ever written… even though it’s totally sad and depressing!” And he’s not wrong, the song is one hell of an end of album track. It’s everything you love about Machine Head in one song. This is my true favorite song on the album. I love everything about it. It’s one those songs that you will feel compelled to listen to again once it’s over.
Of Kingdom And Crown is not just a triumph for Machine Head but for heavy music as well. This album not only fits perfectly in the MH catalog but, to me, has set a new standard for the band moving forward. The new blood in the band seems to have reinvigorated Machine Head and Robb. The Pandemic for all the issues it caused the world, seems to have done some amazing things for bands and the material they are putting out. Machine Head should stand proud with this album. It stands up among the best of their career. This is one of those albums that you don’t want to end. It’s that good and then some!
Overall Rating: A
Machine Head- Of Kingdom And Crown:
Of Kingdom And Crown (Spotify):