One of my favorite “underground” sludge bands. My favorite band SLUDGE/DOOM band is Corrosion of Conformity but Down, especially their first album NOLA, come in a close second. The songs “Temptations Wings,” “Stone the Crow,” and “Bury Me in Smoke,” are sludge/doom metal templates.

For those of you who don’t know this band features former Pantera lead singer Phil Anselmo, former Corrosion of Conformity guitarist and lead singer Pepper Keenan, lead singer and guitarist from Crowbar Kirk Windstein, and drummer Jimmy Bower from EyehateGod, Crowbar and Superjoint Ritual. Pantera bassist just recently left the band and was replaced with former Goatwhore and Crowbar bass player Pat Bruders.

Crank this mother UP!

San Francisco Bay Area metallers MACHINE HEAD will release their new album, “Unto The Locust”, on September 27 via longtime label Roadrunner Records. The CD was recorded at JingleTown Studios in Oakland, with frontman Robb Flynn producing. The mixing duties were handled by Flynn and Juan Urteaga (EXODUS, SADUS, TESTAMENT, NIGHT RANGER, VICIOUS RUMORS, HEATHEN, VILE, CATTLE DECAPITATION). (Note: Due the recent passing of his ex-wife and manager, Colin Richardson [BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE, SLIPKNOT, FEAR FACTORY, TRIVIUM] was unable to oversee the mix.)

“Unto The Locust” standard CD track listing:

01. I Am Hell (Sonata In C#)
I) Sangre Sani
II) I Am Hell
III) Ashes To The Sky
02. Be Still And Know
03. Locust
04. This Is The End
05. Darkness Within
06. Pearls Before The Swine
07. Who We Are

“Unto The Locust” special-edition CD track listing:

01. I Am Hell (Sonata in C#)
I) Sangre Sani
II) I Am Hell
III) Ashes To The Sky
02. Be Still And Know
03. Locust
04. This Is The End
05. Darkness Within
06. Pearls Before The Swine
07. Who We Are
08. The Sentinel (JUDAS PRIEST cover) *
09. Witch Hunt (RUSH cover) *
10. Darkness Within (Acoustic) *

* Bonus tracks

DVD:

* “The Making Of Unto The Locust” Documentary

An advance mix of the new MACHINE HEAD song “Locust” was released via iTunes on June 14 and was included on an iTunes Mayhem digital sampler. Download cards for the digital sampler are being distributed at every date of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival so fans can redeem the song after being summarily kicked in the face by MACHINE HEAD‘s always devastating live show.

Flynn previously stated about the meaning of the song, “‘Locust’ is a metaphor. Locusts fly in a swarm, but they can’t control which direction they fly; they float on the wind, they land, cause massive destruction, and then float away on the wind to leave you in the aftermath. The song is a metaphor for a type of person that sometimes comes into your life and has a similar effect.”

Musically, the song is the essence of what MACHINE HEAD have been doing for nearly two decades. “It feels like the culmination of what we’ve been doing for the last 17 years: power grooves, patented MACHINE HEAD harmonics, crushing guitars and dark melodies, but taken to a new level,” Flynn said. “It’s a natural progression from [2007’s] ‘The Blackening’, but different than anything on that record. In the past, when we debuted a new song, it was usually the fastest, thrashiest tune. This time we wanted to go with something just straight-up heavy.”

The song is eight minutes in length, which is not unfamiliar territory for the band. Flynn even joked, “We still can’t seem to write a damn song under six minutes. But MACHINE HEAD aren’t writing music for the radio or MTV. This is for us. This is for the metalhead who let’s music take him on a journey. This for the metalhead for whom music is the only thing that matters, to whom music is a savior. The music fan who’s going to study every detail of the artwork, go online and find the lyrics and memorize every word, and let it take them away from their fucked up life for a while. It’s for the music freak, who maybe just wants to get hammered, air-guitar and sing at the top of his lungs, and act like an friggin’ idiot while starting a moshpit in their living room with reckless abandon. Because that’s who wrote this song, and that is the only people we care about connecting with.”

“Locust” can be streamed in the YouTube clip below (courtesy of Roadrunner Records).

MACHINE HEAD guitarist Phil Demmel‘s track-by-track breakdown of “Unto The Locust” (courtesy of Sonic Excess):

01. I Am Hell (Sonata In C#) consisting of three parts I) Sangre Sani II) I Am Hell and III) Ashes To The Sky

Demmel: “I Am Hell”, the opener, is actually a sonata. It’s a song in three parts, and it’s the pyromaniac song that I was talking about. You know, it’s the most brutal song MACHINE HEAD has ever written. It’s got to at least be eight minutes long. So, it starts off with, you know, I’m not going to break down the music too much. I mean it’s still pretty early before the record comes out but it’s a three-part tune.

02. Be Still And Know

Demmel: “Be Still And Know”, which is, uh, kind of a few riffs that I threw together that kind of got shelved for a minute, got put away, and got brought back from the dead when I came in one day and those guys were kind of jamming on it. It kind of got some chest compressions, and it got brought back to life. Epic jam. It’s about struggle, and overcoming struggle, and knowing that the light at the end of the tunnel is only there if that light shines inside of you. The title was… Like, my grandmother handed down all of her grandchildren bible verses in all their Easter cards and Christmas cards. She used to sign one to each, and mine was Psalm 46, which is, “Be still, and know that I’m the Lord”. Basically, be steadfast. Know that you will get through, and this shall pass. It kind of fit into the tune and kind of fit into the chorus. I mean, I got it tattooed on my arm around eight years ago. So, it’s been kind of my mantra through my life. So, I’m really stoked that Robb chose to title the song that.

03. Locust

Demmel: “Locust”, is a concept I came up with, based on a few people I have encountered in my life, just like everybody has. The type of person that just comes into your life under a different guise, under false pretenses, to befriend you, be your buddy, be your man, be on your team, or, you know, to be your lover or whatever. Their goal is just to soak up all your resources and just to drain you of all you’ve got, whatever you have to offer. Once they’re discovered, they fly off into the next crop and drain that of everything. Yeah, it just feels like hell.

04. This Is The End

Demmel: “This Is The End”, a burner, one of the faster MACHINE HEAD songs ever. (laughs) Robb and David [McClain, drums] got together, and we took a break from everything after touring for three years. We took about a six-month break, got back together, and wrote this song. It’s really fast. Kind of a death metal song, but it’s got the classical sound like a death metal tune. The whole record has kind of neo-classical feel to it. The song, Robb‘s going to have to describe the lyrics. It’s basically about people kind of living and not being able to accept present times and moving on to things.

05. Darkness Within

Demmel: “Darkness Within”, this song is probably the biggest departure of our record, in terms of when we did “Descend The Shades Of Night” on “Through The Ashes”. It’s kind of a ballad, with acoustic guitars. This one I’m going to leave up to something of a surprise. All of my friends that aren’t kind of into metal say, “Damn, is that you guys?” It’s a beautiful, beautiful song. Still heavy, but us growing as musicians. It has my favorite, the best solo I’ve ever done for this band, so far, dripping with emotion. I’ll leave it at that.

06. Pearls Before The Swine

Demmel: “Pearls Before The Swine”, which was a song about addiction. It was a song without lyrics really for a while, without a concept. We kind of came up with an idea to write about addicts and addiction, when talking to each other and watching “Breaking Bad” episodes to kind of catch up and start again to see it. (laughs) It’s not a song about hope. It’s just a song about being in the throes of addiction, in its claws, and a lot of my lyrics are in there. So, there’s a lot of descriptive thoughts of addiction. It’s not a song of hope for sure. It’s not “Stairway To Heaven”. It’s not a song of hope for sure.

07. Who We Are

Demmel: And the last song is a song called “Who We Are”, which another song that Robb wrote. He and Dave kind of had it before I started writing for the record. I took some time off last year to deal with some personal stuff. This one and the other one I talked about earlier are the two that Robb had already written and brought. You know, he had all this music pouring out of him, and he had to get it out…so. Yeah, I don’t know really how to describe those two, so I’m going to refrain from doing that.

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