Taking a look back at “Unto The Locust” now it’s easy to see some of the missteps the band took on that album. Excluding the kids choir which is self explanatory, the album felt it was always second guessing itself, wondering if this was the right thing to do or whether to stretch this track out to nearer eight minutes. Despite that, the album was a decent Machine Head album which just happened to be the follow up to one of the best albums of the last decade.
In the sad way that the music industry works, the failure of the bands arena tour will probably alienate Machine Head from the festival headline club at the likes of Download and Sonisphere festivals, which is a bloody shame as everyone who has ever seen Machine Head live would tell you they would conquer any festival put before them.
With the negative hindsight the last album received, coupled with the departure of founding bass player Adam Duce, there was a tiny bit of trepidation coming into the bands seventh album “Bloodstone & Diamonds”. However, twenty seconds into the opening track ‘Now We Die’ that nervous/anxious feeling was washed away in a tsunami of riffs and the fury of Robb Flynn’s vocals. In short, the new Machine Head is phenomenal.
“Bloodstone & Diamonds” is what the follow up to “The Blackening” should have been, in your face, riffy and most importantly intense from its first second to its last. The new bassist Jared MacEachern seems to have relit the fury, upping the pace and bringing back some of the aggressive from “The More Things Change” period of the band.
The Opening barrage of ‘Now We Die’ into ‘Killers & Kings’ sets up the album in the perfect way possible, showcasing that there will be about a hundred million riffs per song and all of them will be absolute stormers. The likes of ‘Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones’ and ‘Eyes Of The Dead’ could have been plucked straight from “Through The Ashes Of Empires” and no one could tell the difference. With the albums highlight ‘Game Over’ being an example of everything that is great about thrash in six minutes.
The band haven’t just rested on their laural’s with “Bloodstone & Diamonds” as there is a fair amount of experimentation on the record. ‘Sail Into The Black’ has an almost ethereal quality to it, with monk chanting throughout which builds a creepy atmosphere. ‘Damage Inside’ echoes the title track from “The Burning Red” and ‘Beneath The Silt’ has the most down tuned riff the band have ever written, which nestles at the meeting point of “NOLA” era Down and Deftones when they are at their heaviest.
Overall, “Bloodstone & Diamonds” is the sound of a band finding the perfect middle ground between the past and the present of their discography. From the past it takes the intensity and fury of “Burn My Eyes” and “The More Things Change” and blends it seamlessly with complex strictures and riff upon riff approach of the post “Through The Ashes Of Empires” Machine Head. To say the album is better or worse than “The Blackening” is premature, but once the likes of ‘Now We Die’ and ‘Game Over’ hit the live sets, it could well be the case that we have a “Blackening” killer on our hands here.