I’m a big, big fan of Machine Head. Even when they took huge missteps in their career with THE BURNING RED and SUPERCHARGER, my fandom never waned. I just took a few years to listen repeatedly to THE MORE THINGS CHANGE and BURN MY EYES until they rebounded. Over the last few years though, the band has changed a lot. There’s been a lineup change, a somewhat lousy single release with “Is There Anybody Out There”, and a change in Robb Flynn to where he’s been sucked into the vacuum of social media and feels like his social justice views are now something that has to be expounded all the time on social media, in his music, and wherever else anyone will listen to it. To his credit, he stands by his own convictions on everything, which is admirable. That said though, infusing it into Machine Head has been a mistake.
CATHARSIS feels like a midlife crisis captured in a recording studio and exemplified by Flynn in damn near every interview he’s done to “promote” it. While it’s not as awful as a lot of the reviews I’ve read online, it’s certainly not amongst the best in their catalog or even close to the upper tier of the material he’s done previously. It’s better than THE BURNING RED, about the same as SUPERCHARGER, and shouldn’t even have the same band name as graces the covers of BURN MY EYES, THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE BLACKENING or UNTO THE LOCUST.
To be fair here, Flynn using Machine Head as his own personal experimentation vehicle is nothing new. When that’s done though, the results are sometimes dreadful. “Bastards” is a prime example. Sounding more like Flogging Molly than Machine Head, this whiny number that basically says anyone that opposes illegal immigration is an asshole is a total flop. While I personally think “Triple Beam” is the best song on this release, I’m not at all surprised seeing it compared to the rap style that ruined THE BURNING RED for a lot of fans years ago. Are there good songs here? Sure, there’s a few. “Volatile” is a pretty strong song. Overall though, CATHARSIS gets stored on a hard drive somewhere and doesn’t make it to the iTunes library for me.
PITRIFF RATING 40/100 - Robb Flynn pretty much told Machine Head fans that CATHARSIS was not going to be well liked by most of them. He’s correct. Like the previous time in their history, I hope this gets out of their system and they rebound with something amazing. I just hope that we don’t have to have another turd like CATHARSIS before they straighten things out again. This one is forgettable and fairly unnecessary unless you are a completist.