The More Things Change (Roadrunner)
by Scott Hefflon
Machine Head holds a distinct place in history for not sucking on their second album. Their debut for Roadrunner, 1994’s Burn My Eyes ,was a roar-core favorite (the best selling debut Roadrunner ever had) that had fans and critics (those who deign to review “metal” that is) wondering if Pantera had finally gotten their asses kicked by a younger, harder band with a few new tricks. “Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast!” was a battlecry that cannot be easily forgotten. While no one-liners are leaping out of The More Things Change… (yet, that is), I have faith that, given time, one will. Perhaps this is to be a battle with no cry, no “Bow down before the one you serve” or “You’re making us fucking hostile !” Then again, I’ve been singing “Auschwitz, the meaning of pain, the way that I want you to die” for a decade, and how profound is that? Perhaps the open-throated roars of “Blood of Zodiac,” the closing track, has the best chance of being the theme song. Melodic guitars sing with their own voices, the quiet, introspective moments build to the self-same realization Rage Against the Machine reaches: repeat what you say, repeat what you say, repeat what you say, repeat what you saaaay ,Huh! And while we’re connecting the dots, follow The More Things Change…‘s course through VoiVodian chords, Korny clenched-teeth vocals, Pantera roars, the annoying tendency to let the open harmonics scream, Fear Factorian apathetic droning, and various trudges through Alice in Chain’s wah-wake. That is not to say, by any stretch of the unimaginative, that Machine Head is not a band of crushing power and ever-maturing songwriting ability. Robb Flynn’s voice has never stretched so much. And the subtle, tweaked-out segues have that “they’re gonna bust out any time now” anticipation that builds the dynamic needed to launch into all-out aggression. Machine Head have learned to write dynamically, and while The More Things Change… seems to drag at times, it’s an action-packed blockbuster with the sense to slow down at times to let you catch your breath before dragging you back (willingly) into the melée again.