Machine Head Unto the Locust

Machine Head Unto the Locust
No one was expecting it when long-running/often-faltering San Francisco, CA thrashers Machine Head dropped The Blackening in '07. The album went back to the band's purer thrash sound, but added a huge dose of dramatic flair, with every song testing the listener's patience by going on and on and on, but it worked. Now, they've taken that template even further ― there are only seven songs here. And they are all long, but they are all winners. Opener "I Am Hell" is masterful thrash that feels like a journey, like Neurosis covering Testament (or Testament covering Neurosis, actually). "Be Still and Know" works a melodic chorus, in all the best ways, and "Locust" is one of the album's strongest songs, seven-and-a-half minutes of wildly catchy mid-tempo thrash that just builds and builds and builds. "This is the End" features absolutely insane riffing, while album highlight "Darkness Within" is a touching love letter to music and "Who We Are" ends things off with a grand declaration of intent. Thrash album of the year? I see no reason why not. (Roadrunner)