Machine Head – ØF KingdØM and CrØWn Review

For better or worse, Machine Head has returned with another album. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve said it before, I’m a diehard fan of Flynn and co. But it’s hard to imagine the band returning with anything decent after the absolute dumpster fire that’s Catharsis. Not to mention the resulting departure of everyone but Flynn. But Machine Head has done it before. Remember Supercharger and the brilliant resurrection that is Through the Ashes of Empires? Without that struggle and success, we would never have received The Blackening. So, maybe there’s still hope. Machine Head’s new crew includes Decapitated guitarist Vogg and former Animosity/Animals as Leaders drummer Navene Koperweis, with an album stripped of anything to do with Unto the Locust. So, is ØF KingdØM and CrØWn the next TTAOE? There’s only one way to find out.

First, I’m happy to say ØF KingdØM and CrØWn, and its idiotic usage of “Ø” is but a mere thirteen tracks and an hour in length. Yup, still too much for this style, but, remember, Catharsis was a good fifteen minutes long and much worse of an album. Now that I can feel your sighs of relief like the cold breath of death, ØF KingdØM and CrØWn is a safe album. In lots of ways, it reminds me of Bloodstone and Diamonds. It’s got the classic, crushing numbers and sad boi ballads; long and short songs; and it’s undeniably Machine Head (except when it sounds like Trivium). But, where Bloodstone and Diamonds meanders longer than it should, there’s some awareness in the song editing. That said, the opener is over ten minutes long. But, hold on, like other Machine Head openers, it’s the most diverse of the bunch. Sure, it’s no “Clenching the Fists of Dissent,” but it gets the point across with classic pinch harmonics and melodies akin to The Blackening’s “Halo.”

Beefier, straightforward numbers include “ChØKe ØN The Ashes ØF YØUr Hate” and “Kill Thy Enemies.” The first has a tasty—if traditional—Machine Head attack that gets better when the band unleashes a deathy lick with gnarly vocals on the backend. The second track comes charging out on a mission to, well… kill thy enemies. It’s saturated with over-the-top lyrics1 but the combination of riffs and alternating growl/clean Flynn-isms does it well. Not to mention the return of harmonizing guitar leads in the vein of The Blackening. “BecØMe the FirestØRm” and “BlØØDshØT” would join the crew if it wasn’t for the former’s awkward vocals and the latter’s overuse of grinding squeals that’ll make Supercharger’s “Bulldozer” blush.

As expected, the album also has various sad, melodic moments. While some dislike these songs, I feel that these are typically where Flynn shines. While “My Hands Are Empty” is basically a rehashing of Bloodstone and Diamonds’ “Sail Into the Black,”2 “UnhallØWed” and closer “ArrØWs In WØRds FrØM The Sky” are quite good. There is nothing new to discover here, but if you like the melodic vocals and heart-wrenching songwriting that Flynn captures in his most-depressed state, these ought to do the trick. Both are a struggling mix of rises and falls, distortion and cleans, while all steer us into the final, powerful chorus.

While ØF KingdØM and CrØWn is typical pissed-off Flynn, it’s unique in that it’s a concept album. Inspired by Netflix-and-chill family time, Flynn has crafted a story that follows two characters straight out of an anime movie. The lyrics are rife with death, destruction, and love-sick hearts. Not the typical lyrical inspiration from the band, it at least helps us forget about the slam poetry incident.3 Unfortunately, a lot of the lyrics are straight-up cringey (especially the brainless battering of the back-to-back “BlØØDshØT” and “RØTten”). And, without a lot of variety, the album is rather one-dimensional. Which will make its hour-long runtime difficult for many listeners. That said, it’s a step up from the disastrous Catharsis, and I can at least get through the whole thing without much trouble. ØF KingdØM and CrØWn is no resurrection of the old or even return to The Blackening, but it’s all we can hope for now.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 273 kb/s mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: August 26th, 2022

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Which somehow suggests we kill everyone but love is still the key.
  2. With old man Logan Mader chipping in.
  3. Forgotten but never forgiven?
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