Machine Head – Catharsis (2018) Review


  1. Volatile
  2. Catharsis
  3. Beyond the Pale
  4. California Bleeding
  5. Triple Beam
  6. Kaleidoscope
  7. Bastards
  8. Hope Begets Hope
  9. Screaming at the Sun
  10. Behind a Mask
  11. Heavy Lies the Crown
  12. Psychotic
  13. Grind You Down
  14. Razorblade Smile
  15. Eulogy

Between Robb Flynn’s strange profane response on Facebook to a negative review to the singles released that harkened back to their Nu-metal phase, Machine Head’s ninth album Catharsis has had to face immense controversy and backlash from fans.

I’ve kept an open mind through everything I’ve seen and heard come out of the MH camp and now that I’ve finally listened to the album fully, my thoughts are as long and varied as the 75-minute journey itself.

Things kick off with a very solid meat-and-potatoes-like track called Volatile, which are all sorts of groovy-crunchy metal the band is known for. From there, however, things get experimental, weird and yes – nu-metal like it’s 1994.

If I had to describe Catharsis in one word – it’d be ‘hodgepodge’. The album is like an album telling the story of the career of Machine Head itself. You have the quintessential Nu-metal track Triple Beam, which Robb Flynn and Machine Head need to avoid entirely please, while Grind You Down is like a continuation of The Burning Red and Heavy Lies The Crown could’ve easily been a B-side off of The Blackening.

To add to this curious mix of styles comes some experimentation that’s ballsy and interesting to see for the band. Hope Begets Hope is all sorts of pop punk while California Bleeding feels like a cut that demands to be on your local mainstream rock radio.

I will say that I was put off by the experimentation in styles, after all this is a band known for its crunchy riffs and thrash-metal sensibilities, not catchy choruses and pop-punk sensibilities. But it never became hard to swallow.

Unfortunately, the album is predominately rap and nu-metal – something my 16-year-old self would dig, but as I’ve grown, it just isn’t the music for me. Which is weird, because these are lads in their 40’s-50’s so why is it for them? That I don’t really understand.

Add the 75-minute running time to this curious mix of styles and you have an album that definitely needs a trim. Most tracks are above the 4-minute mark and some definitely could’ve been slimmed down to 2 minutes. I’m not against a lengthy running time but when it’s full of a style I’ve grown out, it tends to great.

The fact that the album closes with a slow and ponderous track called Eulogy – that brings nothing to the album and recycles the strange Bastards – proves this album is more self-indulgence than succinct and concise. But then, you probably knew that already.

All up, Catharsis is a mixed bag of Machine Head. It’s not great and it needed to cut out a few tracks but what’s there that is good is solid Machine Head.


   J’s Verdict: ☆☆

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