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Catharsis

I have no issues with lyrics of any kind whether they are political, about social classes, racism, war or just having a good time. I also have no issue with artists I like taking a stance and commenting on what they see is the state of the world. Opinions are important whether you agree or disagree with them.

Robb Flynn is an artist. First and foremost, as an artist, he has a duty of care to himself first. The art he creates needs to satisfy him first. If it doesn’t, what is the point. What is the point of creating art if you write factory art. On occasions, the art an artist writes for themselves ends up going global and on other occasions it doesn’t.

So it’s no surprise that on “Catharsis”, Robb Flynn is giving his take on the world. It’s not pretty, but no one said the six o’clock news is pretty. And there is no denying the power of the message in the songs, regardless of what political party you support.

Volatile
“It’s an angry, brutal song. We’ve had long intros on the last five or six albums, so it was time to start with something direct and violent.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Musically, this is a classic MH song.

Sick of the white folks privileged and vain
Protesting the culture that isn’t the same

Sometime in the past, our leaders started to serve the corporations. Those lobby dollars became too great to refuse. Many years later, those corporations leaders are now leaders of nations. They bought their way in. It’s real and it’s happening. We need a reset, an anti-corruption watchdog for politicians, who can assess if these politicians serve the people or the corporations. Then again, give this body enough power and it will become corrupted like the rest. It’s a vicious power vacuum.

Dead, dead and bloated
These times are volatile
There’s no room left for you

The bed of music under the chorus is brilliant. And there is truth in these lines. Our times are so volatile there is no room for nothing else. We seem to move from conflict to conflict. Terrorist attack to terrorist attack. Mass shooting to another one. And it just keeps on going.

Sick of the racists, sick of this shit
Sick of them telling me its immigrants

I am sure that people know that Apple, Google and Amazon are all founded by immigrants. Spotify is an immigrant product from Sweden.  Marc Randolph, one of the Netflix co-founders is a son of an immigrant. Immigrants don’t come to a country to bomb the hell out of it. They come for a better life. And with all races there are people who do things which puts a stain on the name of the race. Based on our leaders reasoning, when a person from their own race commits sickening child offences, do we assume that all people from that race are the same sickos.

Sick of the phonies on my phone screen
Sick of the NRA trying to scare me

The amount of mass shootings that happen in the U.S is a worry. When nothing is done about it, its a bigger worry. However, if the mass shootings happened to be linked to a terror organisation, there will be changes to legislation straight away, which will give Governments more spying power and further reduce its peoples’ privacy and liberties.

Break it, smash it, burn it to the ground

It’s been our evolution. Humans will be known for building, smashing and burning. And those lines work in the slower groove.  When I first heard the song, I thought Robb was singing, break it, smash it, bullet through the crowd.

And man, when they get to the lead break, it’s pretty full on.

Catharsis
“This is a special song. The lyrics say it all: ‘The only thing keeping me sane, the music in my veins / If these words are my fists, this is my catharsis.’ That crystallised everything we were trying to say.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

The transition from “Volatile” into “Catharsis” works. It isn’t your usual crushing Machine Head song. It has atmospheric keyboard samples in the forms of strings and piano to kick it off and when the guitars come in with the open string riff, you know you’re in MH territory. And the structure of the song is experimental and I dig that.

I could never be another brick in the wall
You’ll remember me
As you break all our spirits down and push us to the ground
Call me a fool with a gasoline can
Burn it f down, start it over and over again

The powerful all want us to have jobs, so we can take out loans. Once we take out loans, we are in a cycle of repayments. Basically we are just bricks in the wall. When we crumble or die, another person replaces us. It’s a vicious cycle. But, people can make change if they are not so easily swayed over money. Hell most bands lose members over money arguments.

The only thing keeping me sane
The music in my veins
And if these words are my fists
Can you feel my catharsis?

It’s a primal scream. To me, music is king. We went to the shows to commune with the band and to make our lives complete. Today, going to the show is seen as  “a look where I am, look what I am doing” promotion job on social media. Hell, I was at a Metallica show with people who turned up so they could say they went to a Metallica show, but they don’t own any of their music and really don’t listen to em.

Music once upon a time was as important as water and electricity. My Dad told me, the first thing he did when he got his house was to set up the stereo. And I’ve kept the same motto.

And how can you not start to get ready to lose your mind when the military style snare pattern at 3.39 starts. It’s a perfect example of how you do bridges and interludes.

The lead work after two songs is stellar. And really after hearing the first 2 songs how can anyone be unhappy with the album…

Beyond the Pale
“It’s a straight-ahead Machine Head song, about embracing being outsiders and misfits. ‘I found my heroes / The freaks and zeros!’ That sums it up.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

I am skin and bones, broken stones,
See the scars that I show.
I live outside the bounds, in the unknown.

It’s a cool opening lyric line.

And yeah, the main riff sounds similar to Strapping Young Lad’s “Love” which Devin Townsend has said he’s flattered and the Chorus of “Love” was influenced by “City Of Love” from Yes and the cycle continues. Take what came before, tweak it and release it. And you know my views around riffs, progress is derivative.

And if people like SYL “Love” then there is no reason why they shouldn’t like “Beyond the Pale”. The mosh pit will go off when the chorus kicks in.

Beyond the pale,
I found salvation, emancipation.
Beyond the pale,
I found my heroes: the freaks and zeroes.

Metal music is about embracing the ones spurned by the mainstream and the popular. Then metal became popular and everything changed. Suddenly, popular metal bands were not cool, because of their popularity and metal started its fragmentation into different record label genres.

I’ll break down every wall, fight and claw.
Take their punches, stand tall,
My middle finger raised, so fuck em all

It’s a revolution. Musicians have been saying the same message since the 70’s. Why is it any different today?

And the two duelling leads works. And really after hearing the first 3 songs how can anyone be unhappy with the album…

California Bleeding
“This is a dumb song full of ignorant s, ha ha! It’s about my love/hate relationship with California. It’s a balls-out, rockin’ song, I think.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

The intro hooks me, the Chorus is cool and when the intro comes up again at 2.25, I was hooked.

And the lyrics are a blast.

I’m not the billionaire class, from San Lorenzo with the trailer trash

Take that all you social media users who portray a perfect life.

Sail me down the river, temper like a trigger
Take a shot of vodka, blow out my liver
California’s bleeding me

Angels and Demons live in California. Our quest to have a good time also carries it’s risks.

Highway 5 down to 99, I’m getting head near the Fresno sign

Brilliant.

Triple Beam
“I’m just gonna say, ‘This is a nu metal song’ ha ha! It came together super-quick. You’re basically hearing the first time that we ever played that song and the first time I ever sung it.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Yeah, this song could have been a left over from “Supercharger” and should have been left off this album. But If I’m being honest, if this song was released back in 99, I probably would be cranking it based on the main riff, because in 1999, these kinds of riffs sounded heavy and original but now the whole thing seems recycled.

Kaleidoscope
“Again, it’s about the power of music. I’m not a religious guy, but music is as close as I get. The line, ‘Songs fill what religion won’t’ says it all.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

This hole in my soul
Songs fill what religion won’t
No hope, I can’t cope
Music plays in kaleidoscope
And if I’m lost
I don’t want to be found
Haunted by sound

The Chorus is a stand out and when the second verse starts off with the lyrics, “Open up the floor and start a pit, this shit is building up inside of me”, you know there will be circle pits.

Catatonic ignorance, the cronies run the show
Preying on our differences, divide and conquer the low

And it’s been that way for centuries. Will it ever change?

Bastards
“Bastards is a straight-up folk song. I would relate it to Springsteen and Tom Petty, but it’s still Machine Head. It’s probably the most important song on here.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

I liked it when Robb Flynn released his acoustic YouTube take months before the album and I like it now. It’s different for MH but it works and those tapped arpeggio lines under the simple D, A, Bm, G chords ties it all together.

The vocal melody in the chorus, when Robb is singing, “Stand your ground, Don’t let the bastards grind you down, Be bold, Be strange, Don’t let their fears make you afraid”, how can you not like it?

It’s an anthem and no different to the messages from the 80’s. The difference between then and now is that we smoked in the boys room, felt the noise and sang together, we’re not going to take it. Now we are older and in a different fight for our lives and futures. Those baby boomers born after WW2 infiltrated our government in the 80’s and became its leaders in the mid 90’s. And this generation does not care about the past or the future. All they care about is now. And we cannot let these bastards drag us down. Because they will crash and burn. Everyone does. It just takes time and it starts with us.

Screaming At The Sun
“This is one of the first songs we wrote for the album. It’s pretty straight-ahead, but we went into some very weird places after writing this one.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

I really dig the riff on this one, the middle eastern feel, even the Arabic sounding vocal melody.

And that section at 2.38 works.

They see you blinded us, reminded us of all that’s ugly

Life is not perfect. We get blindsided by events or people. Sometimes the improbable becomes the probable. How we respond is what defines us.

Behind A Mask
“It’s all clean vocals. It’s all acoustic. It’s essentially unplugged. We’ve explored a lot of melody and harmonies on this record.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Now this song is not what I expect from MH, but I like how they did it. It’s like Staind merged with Days Of The New and to me, it’s a pretty cool combination.

The Chorus is mad on this one, how the vocals are orchestrated. How can you not like it?

The old man sits alone staring at the screen
And contemplates these failures, done to his family
Cause depression’s bottles come along and filled his whiskey glass
With every sip put to his lips, erases all the past
So he tells another little lie and tells another tale
In hopes to spare the family and hide his private hell
But the more the words come out of him, like little cuts and scabs
Tearing at the tender hearts who gaze upon a mask

The verse is powerful. How we deal with our past skeletons later on in life is crucial. For some people, everything is perfect and they did nothing wrong. For others, they realise their mistakes, their ways and they try to make amends.

Heavy Lies The Crown
“It’s an epic and it’s about Louis XI, the Spider King of France. I’m a history buff and it’s just a great story. He’d weave these elaborate webs of deceit!”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

It’s like a movie soundtrack. And when that riff kicks in, it’s yeaahhhhhhhhhhh time.

I slink along the boulevards and listen to the streets
The avenues and gutters give me truth to speak

And it’s in the streets revolutions start. It’s in the streets wars are won and lost.

Psychotic
“This one’s gnarly. It’s ugly and pissed off. I guess we could try to write more hits for the radio, but that’s just not how I write, you know?”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Yeah, the song is ugly alright. The intro is cool and so is the music in the chorus and that 12/8 section which is like a bridge is also cool. I would love to hear these sections fleshed out in future songs.

Grind You Down
“The phrase ‘stand your ground’ from Bastards appears in a few songs, including this one. Another classic MH rager.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Man why did MH have to put that melodic chorus in this song.  And why did that have to put that speed metal section from about 2 minutes in this song.

Razorblade Smile
“This one turned into a tribute to Lemmy. I just started writing lyrics and all this crazy, debauched st just came out. It’s totally Motörhead.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Something about this songs feels so familiar, I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it’s a more rocking version of “Clenching The Fists Of Dissent” or maybe it’s the “Painkiller” start. When that double kick comes in after the intro riff, how awesome is it.

And that riff from about 1.45, I could be screaming “Die”, like in Creeping Death. Love it…

I got a razor blade smile and a cocaine tongue
I got a boner for miles, I’m slinging loads for fun
Carry a whiskey brown suitcase loaded with hash
I’m eatin’ pussy by a dumpster, beard stinking like snatch

The funniest lines I’ve seen in lyrics for a while. Brilliant.

Eulogy
“It’s a pretty dark end to the record, but the lyrics to Bastards pop up again. Late on, I realised that the songs have the same chords. That was kinda weird.”
Robb Flynn in Metal Hammer

Should have been dropped from the album.

So if I put my John Kalodner hat on and I had to bring the album down to 10 songs…..

Side One

Volatile
Catharsis
Beyond The Pale
California Bleeding
Kaleidoscope

Side Two

Hope Begets Hope
Bastards
Razorblade Smile
Behind The Sun
Heavy Lies The Crown

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