27
Oct

Blast from the Past: Machine Head – Supercharger

Yep, that’s right. I’m going there. Seen by many as the ‘black sheep’ of Machine Head‘s discography, and part of a period in the band’s history that fans largely like to pretend merely did not exist. Supercharger isn’t the most popular of albums and was viewed by some critics as being a further divergence from “real metal”, instead having more than a nibble on the nipples of nu-metal. Dammit Machine Head, you shouldn’t have stared into the eyes of Medusa!

Regardless, earlier this month, Supercharger turned 10-years-old. That’s right, it’s the tenth anniversary and what better time is it, to review the most controversial of Machine Head‘s releases (well, besides The Burning Red maybe)?

Make the jump fuckers before I get all bulldozer on your ass. It’s Supercharger time y’all.

Machine Head-  Supercharger (2001)

1. Declaration – 1:11
2. Bulldozer – 4:35
3. White-Knuckle Blackout! – 3:14
4. Crashing Around You – 3:13
5. Kick You When You’re Down – 4:01
6. Only the Names – 6:07
7. All in Your Head – 4:05
8. American High – 3:48
9. Brown Acid – 0:59
10. Nausea – 4:23
11. Blank Generation – 6:38
12. Trephination – 4:58
13. Deafening Silence – 5:33
14. Supercharger – 3:48

Nu-metal? Rap rock? I hadn’t heard Supercharger in its entirety in, probably, over 5 years, so listening to the album again, I actually wasn’t too sure what to expect. First thing’s first though, those expecting a Limp Bizkit record should at least be relieved, if only a little bit, that it is far from being that. Full blown nu-metal, this is not. I don’t even believe it isn entirely a million miles away from the Machine Head we know and loved. Just a bit shitter.

Opening track ‘Bulldozer’ begins with a hint of a heavier album than that of predecessor, The Burning Red. The beginning riffs aren’t too bad, but then I feel my face meeting my palm upon the melodic intersection with some abysmal singing from Flynn. Fortunately, this section isn’t long before a barrage of riffs and pummelling drums enter, along with Flynn’s screaming. The bad news, though, is that the melodic sections keep coming back, and boy are they crap. The other parts of ‘Bulldozer’ aren’t actually that bad however. Some of the crushing riffs are decent and I even enjoyed the breakdown at the end somewhat.

Essentially, my critique of the opening song pretty much describes entire album of Supercharger perfectly. The odd bite of Ass kicking heavy metal, often let down by stumbling ill-implemented nu-metal like sections, and a lot of filler material. Robb Flynn rapping also makes me cringe in every way possible. I nearly spat my coffee out hearing Robb rap at the end of ‘White-Knuckle Blackout’, something I later did acheive when I heard the beginning of ‘Crashing Around You’ (and again when he raps MC style half way through ‘Blank Generation’). I get the song was an obvious single with it’s “catchy” sing-along chorus, but the song just kind of sucks. Unless you compare it to a Staind song, in which it then becomes a masterpiece.

And that’s the problem with this album, when it’s bad, it really is bad. And I mean bad. From the opening Fred Durst like scream of “come on” in ‘Kick You When Down’ to the prize winning Tarzan impression at the beginning of ‘American High’, there a lot of moments when you have to wonder what exactly the band were smoking when they made the album.

So, any good moments? Well, actually, yes there is. Apart from the previously mentioned semi-enjoyable moments, there are some tracks I genuinely enjoy. Take the sixth track ‘Only The Names’ for example. The song begins with a beautifully melodic guitar line, reminiscent of tracks classics like ‘I’m Your God Now’ from Burn My Eyes. It isn’t long before a heavy riff is introduced with those classic pinch harmonics. The song is bleak, dark, moody and atmospheric, with lyrics centering around the despair associated with addiction. Robb’s vocals, the melodic verses and heavy chorus complement each other well, along with the solo, to make this song the finest moment on Supercharger.

Thirteenth track ‘Deafening Silence’ is also a great melodic track, being the only real ballad on the album. It’s not as good as ‘The Burning Red’ from the previous album, but it still highlighted that Machine Head could do melodic and emotional music not just well, but very well. Neither would go on to compare to the superior ‘Descend the Shades of Night’ from Through The Ashes of Empires, but that’s what many bands do, they improve and grow with age.

Finally, closing number, the title-track proves to be a decent slab of metal with some great head bobbing moments. It’s far from being as great as Machine Head‘s early work (or indeed their latter work following this album), but it’s still another decent tune on this controversial record.

Overall, Supercharger really isn’t as terrible as I remember it. Will I listen to it again any time soon? Probably not. It has a lot of filler material, a few good tracks and a lot of, unfortunately, cringe worthy moments that let down some of the better tracks. Somewhere in the album, deep in the record, there is a good album here somewhere. A bit like The Burning Red really. And is it worse than that album? I really wouldn’t like to say.


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