“Supercharger” is evidence to the stubbornness that is MACHINE HEAD. Despite poor initial reactions to the Nu Metal style MACHINE HEAD converted to on their previous album, “The Burning Red”, MACHINE HEAD decide to head further into the Nu-Metal genre on this release. So the people that have “NuMetalphobia” need not even try to listen to “Supercharger” but simply skip the album and move on.
The album itself feels as though the band is drowning too. The writing isn’t very cohesive and despite a few songs that try to redeem the album as a whole – it just isn’t enough to right this sinking ship. The performances of each member are watered down and though the album doesn’t necessarily have “bad” performances, they feel as though they aren’t heartfelt and the band wasn’t playing for themselves anymore.
The guitar work is what really throws me for a loop. The guitars are down-tuned to the point that any technicality is lost in the distortion of the sound. Most of the guitars are also pretty simplistic material. There is nothing more relevant than some simple riffing and then some slower melodic lines. Solos are almost completely extinct on “Supercharger” (even though Rob Flynn is quite a guitar player). The guitars have some emotion in the melodic parts but overall it’s a pretty dull, stop-and-go, Nu Metal brand of riffing. Not all that special.
The drum and bass work is what really holds this album together. The bass is heavily prominent on the album as is the drum work. Both have also taken an intelligence drop and been simplified to the point that it’s really not funny after the first few songs. The bass is catchy and that helps in the overall structure of the music so that it doesn’t get too boring as the album continues on. The drums are decent but again – pretty simple stuff here.
Rob Flynn was one of the best Post-Thrash vocalists that I have heard. He was harsh without being Death Metal but he wasn’t as high in sound to be a great Thrash vocalist. All of that is gone. No Post-Thrash vocals here. He does a more understandable vocal style that is very much in the vein of Nu Metal. Also he does some of his really bad rapping on this album once again (I was hoping that would die – but evil never stops I guess).
Lyrically, the album isn’t as tight as previous efforts but it is decent. Some of the lyrics are clever and Rob Flynn has always been a superior lyric writer. Although some of the songs themselves have strange lyrics (“American High”) other songs are saved from being all fodder by their lyrics (“Crashing Around You”). So there is a huge variation in the quality of lyrics but overall it’s probably the best part of the album.
“Supercharger” is full of Nu Metal clichés. I feel bad for MACHINE HEAD for heading down this road and eventually having to reclaim their legitimacy after the release of this album. There are some tracks that are worth at least one listen but overall I wouldn’t say this album is a “must listen” even to die hard fans.
Songs to check out: “Crashing Around You”, “Trephination”, “Supercharger”.
(Online December 4, 2008)