Much like Pantera's “Vulgar Display of Power,” I never understood why this joke of an album gets so much praise. I think this album is a highlight as to many of the bad things the 1990's are associated with in relation to the heavy metal genre. With that said, I would like to state that I'm NOT one of these people that thinks the 90's was a totally bad decade for the metal genre. In fact, many of my absolute favorite metal albums came from the early 90's, but unfortunately, more bands in the 90's were looking to “Vulgar Display of Power” and the grunge scene and morphing the metal genre into...this.
Groove metal, which is precisely what Machine Head's “Burn My Eyes” is, is a worthless genre of music. This album is characterized with downtuned guitars, mid-paced guitar chugging, occasionally cool guitar solos, and bad vocals that range from pseudo-aggressive to flat-out whiny. It's neutered music that puts up the facade of being extreme without actually being extreme. Sure, this sounds extreme to someone who lives on a steady diet of grunge music, but play this album alongside an album like Morbid Saint's “Spectrum of Death” or Sarcofago's “INRI,” and you'll see just how much of a limp-wristed album this is.
Rob Flynn handled guitars and vocals on this album. Flynn's vocals are...atrocious. When he's not trying to do bad imitations of Max Cavalera's vocals from the Sepultura album “Chaos AD,” he does even worse impressions of your average grunge/alternative rock whiner. His lyrics are bad as well, since if they're not hammy interpretations of violent events from the early 90's, they're lame tough guy pandering or teenage whining. Flynn was 26 years-old when this album came out, someone should have told him he's way too old to whine in his music. The bad lyrics wouldn't be a problem if they were buried behind the other instruments, but because they're put right in the front of everything else in the mix, clearly showing their juvenile nature. Much like Dimebag Darrell, Flynn's guitar work is really inconsistent. His solos sound pretty neat, but his riffs are mostly bad. There's a competent thrash riff here and there, but most of it is pseudo-metal groovy chugging that sounds totally lame.
Logan Mader also handled the guitars on this album, and like Flynn, some solos are neat, but the riffs are mostly a joke. Same groovy plodding most of the time, with the occasional thrash burst to give off the impression of it being extreme music.
Adam Duce handled bass and did backing vocals. Other than the opening to “I'm Your God Now,” I didn't notice much bass in this album, but since all of the vocals I heard on this album were awful, I can only assume his backing vocals were awful, too.
Chris Kontos handled the drums on this album, and I honestly didn't notice any beats or fills that were slightly remarkable. Like the guitars, when he's playing a thrash beat in the few aggressive parts on this album, they're competent, but most of the time, they were mediocre.
Technically, none of the songs on here are good, but if there's one that I had to say would be close to good, that would be “Blood for Blood.” That song comes closest to being a proper thrasher and has possibly the best guitar solos in the album, and if it weren't for the lame vocals and lyrics, could even be a classic metal tune.
However, the rest on here are very painful to listen to with only fleeting moments of mercy to keep you from going totally insane. “Davidian” comes close to being tolerable in that it doesn't drag, but hearing Flynn scream “Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast” made me laugh unintentionally. “I'm Your God Now” sounds mostly like a grunge song, with its saving grace being a neat guitar solo near the end. “Real Eyes, Realize, Real Lies” sounds like a goof-off track since it's full of distorted media samples of the 1992 LA riots with mediocre riffing in the background, with Flynn screaming the song title around the middle of it. Songs like “A Thousand Lies,” “None But My Own,” and “The Rage to Overcome” repeat the lame groove metal formula, and don't stick well with me. “None But My Own” gets pretty annoying with its guitar screeches, and it makes me wonder if Disturbed picked up on that idea and aped it on their pitiful excuses for music.
Like many other groove metal albums, “Burn My Eyes” has a too clean and sterile production for a metal album, especially with the guitars and drums. Bass isn't really audible, and worst of all, Flynn's atrocious vocals and lyrics were placed in front of everything. This lacks the grittiness and harshness in sound that a metal album that's truly extreme would have.
This album is just the beginning of the many musical atrocities Rob Flynn would create under the Machine Head monicker. Flynn would ultimately show his lack of conviction in future albums by shifting styles when there was a new fad to hop on (such as “The Burning Red” and “Supercharger” being nu-metal albums during the nu-metal fad), and you're better off checking Flynn's previous band, Vio-Lence.
Here's a list of metal albums to get instead of this.
Vio-Lence: Eternal Nightmare
Pestilence: Malleus Malleficarum
Hypnosia: Extreme Hatred
Toxic Holocaust: Evil Never Dies
Morbid Saint: Spectrum of Death
Kreator: Endless Pain
Slayer: Hell Awaits
Sodom: Persecution Mania
Avoid this album and Machine Head at all costs, you'll be much happier in the end.
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