By Ellen Eldridge
Machine Head’s Unto The Locust showcases a novel of songs with each song representative of its own short story in the collective collaboration of music and words. The church-like chanting of the opener, “I Am Hell,” lures one into the novel with an overcast sense of an impending break – or bursting into flames. “I Am Hell” contains lyrics that speak to the pain of accepting one’s own affliction. This anger-packed introduction instantly reclaims fans of earlier Machine Head albums like The Blackening (2007), which was the last full-length the band put out.
The third track, “Locust” speaks for the album and, again, tells a story of a character. The single, released months before the album with a music video, shows the persona of those who fake their way into others’ lives with the sole intention of acting selfishly – once they get what they’re after, sex, money, fame, etc. they swarm into another’s life. A perfectly metal idea with a compelling musical power felt in the drums and heavy riffs.
The quiet guitar intro to “This Is the End” leads into a building, buzzing melody that recalls Metallica’s “And Justice for All” without actually sounding anything like it. Flynn’s barrage of vocals breaks the peaceful introduction – shatters it really. The relaxed vocals in “Darkness Within” make it possible to really hear what Flynn sings, and shows off his melodic voice (we knew it was in there somewhere). The intensity stays uncompromised and the drum fills strengthen the sense of passion alongside the repeated riff panning in from the guitar. “Darkness Within” bows before a wider audience and will quite possibly be the ballad-type song on the album to draw in a wider crowd.
The closing track, “Who We Are,” instantly struck me when I looked at the line of seven tracks. “I Am Hell” seems to speak to a feeling of being lost in one’s own perspectives; feeling lost and tragic, but “Who We Are” – just in its title – seems to close out the album with more hope and guided spirit. The lyrics match up well as a children’s chorus adds the harmony over a militant cadence of drumming. “This is who we are. This is what I am. We have nowhere else to go. Divided we will stand,” punctuates the many short stories and characters in the songs on Unto The Locust and shows fans that no one must truly give up and let the locust win. Even divided, bruised, and torn we can stand with our selves divided and press on toward that melodic light at the end of the tunnel that really shines from within ourselves.