Machine Head’s highly anticipated Unto The Locust has the unenviable task of having to follow up 2007’s excellent zeitgeist grabbing The Blackening album which received stellar reviews at the time, was one of the best records in their career and has already since become regarded as something of a classic album, something that will only continue to grow as time passes.
If Unto The Locust receives a lot of negative criticism, it is only because it failed to live up to the unexpected mythic status set by The Blackening, much in the same way that The More Things Change was in Burn My Eye’s shadow.
Judged on musical merit, Unto The Locust is a very strong album indeed somehow managing to be both instantly loveable and yet also a grower. Everything on the record is tight and perfectly formed, not a second of the album is wasted… impressive considering how long, dense and complex the record is.
The album officially clocks in at seven tracks, only one of which dips below the six minute mark and the album ends up lasting almost 49 minutes overall.
If you want more long songs, more high speeds and more guitar solos and dual guitar harmonies then Unto The Locust ably provides, tracks like ‘Be Still And Know,’ and ‘I Am Hell,’ are absolutely full of impressive guitar moments from Rob Flynn and Phil Demmel (and of course not forgetting the usual incredible drum fills from Dave McClaine)
It seems pointless listing highlights on an album that only has seven tracks, all of which are great but special mentions should be made for ‘This Is The End,’ is a brilliant mix of crushing heaviness, big grooves a little melody now and again, has a lot of ideas in its time span as well as featuring one of the best (brief but perfectly formed) guitar solos in the band’s career.
On top of the superb songwriting and performances, the production is absolutely fantastic on the record and really captures the Machine Head sound perfectly. A version of near-title-track ‘Locust,’ was available for a while before the album’s release with a different production style, but the actual version on here is much deeper, more energetic sounding and with a different feel on a few of the leads; now the track actually feels a bit more like the band’s first two records than it ever did one the advanced mix version.
In summary; Unto The Locust is a very good album indeed, and gets better with repeat listens. Machine Head are absolutely on form in terms of songwriting and musicianship and do their best to mix adding new ideas and retaining what made their last two albums so good, the only thing that might stand in the way of this record meeting universal praise is simply the fact that The Blackening already did that.