San Francisco Bay Area metal titans MACHINE HEAD have dropped a new song, "Unhallowed", along with an accompanying music video. The track is lifted from the band's tenth studio album, "Of Kingdom And Crown", which will be released on August 26 via Nuclear Blast/Imperium Recordings.
"Of Kingdom And Crown" is a 13-track concept album set in a decimated futuristic wasteland where the sky is stained crimson red. The crux of the story is based on two main characters: the first and main character is Ares (pronounced Aries),who loses the love of his life (Amethyst) and goes on a murderous rampage against the vile sect responsible for her murder; the second character is the perpetrator Eros (pronounced Arrows),who loses his mother to a drug overdose and becomes radicalized in the aftermath. Eros goes off the deep end manifesting his own killing spree. The lyrics detail how their lives intertwine.
MACHINE HEAD vocalist/guitarist Robb Flynn states: "'Unhallowed': Chapter Six – 'Of Kingdom And Crown'.
"Drowning in the deepest depression of his life, Eros is at a breaking point. Collecting heartaches, loss, and near psychotic isolation, 'Unhallowed' is the beginning of a powerful shift of our story. An introspective narrative starts the song lyrically, which is a collaborative effort written by myself, guitarist Wacław 'Vogg' Kiełtyka and bassist/backing vocalist Jared MacEachern and encapsulates the collective strength of this writing team.
"Anchored by an absolutely monstrous groove, the vocals melodically mirror the state of mind of Eros as he reels from the loss of his mother to a drug overdose and begins a slow downward spiral into madness. However, the culmination of the track infuses some much-needed light, but will it be enough?"
The follow-up to 2018's "Catharsis", "Of Kingdom And Crown" includes the three songs that were featured on last year's "Arrows In Words From The Sky" single: "Become The Firestorm", "Rotten" and "Arrows In Words From The Sky". Much of the new MACHINE HEAD album was recorded at Sharkbite Studios in Oakland, California with engineer/producer Zack Ohren.
Back in December 2021, drummer Navene Koperweis (ANIMALS AS LEADERS, ENTHEOS, ANIMOSITY) joined Flynn, MacEachern and Ohren at Sharkbite Studios to jam on the final tracks for "Of Kingdom And Crown" and add some finishing touches to the songs.
The colossal concept comes with a list of equally colossal packaging for various physical formats including 16 different worldwide vinyl formats, deluxe vinyl box set (with bonus tracks),CDs (both old-school longbox and jewel box options),multi-color cassettes, and a limited-edition digipak with bonus tracks. CDs, digipak, cassettes, and all digital formats will be available on August 26, with all vinyl formats arriving on November 25.
"Of Kingdom And Crown" track listing:
01. Slaughter The Martyr 02. Choke On The Ashes Of Your Hate 03. Become The Firestorm 04. Overdose 05. My Hands Are Empty 06. Unhallowed 07. Assimilate 08. Kill Thy Enemies 09. No Gods, No Masters 10. Bloodshot 11. Rotten 12. Terminus 13. Arrows In Words From The Sky
Digipak CD bonus tracks:
14. Exteroception * 15. Arrows In Words From The Sky (acoustic)*
Flynn recently told Metal Hammer magazine about the musical direction of the new MACHINE HEAD material: "It's similar to [2003's 'Through The Ashes Of Empires' and 2007's 'The Blackening'] in that we're moving forward into something fresh and new but it's got that classic MACHINE HEAD vibe. We have a lot to deliver and expectations are very high, so I'm lucky to have great people surrounding me. Jared really stepped up and wrote some great riffs and great vocals. Vogg contributed a few ideas and brought some really great songs."
He continued: "It's fucking heavy, probably the heaviest we've been in a few albums. I've been playing so much guitar recently; I do Electric Happy Hours every Friday and sometimes you play a song you haven't played in 10, 20 years, or go through a whole album from top to bottom. When we toured 'Burn My Eyes', it took me back to where I was writing that music. I don't think I can ever be in that place again lyrically, but riff-wise, I think that all spilled into this album."
This past February, MacEachern told Primordial Radio about his contributions to MACHINE HEAD's new album: "I think that I was very aware from day one that Robb is the leader, he's the creative leader, the musical leader… We all have our inputs but I think it's always understood that ultimately the decision is up to him for how things go. But, yeah, I definitely made contributions and I feel great about those contributions and I'm asked about my opinion on certain things. But, like I said, I'm following his lead."
As for the sound of the new MACHINE HEAD LP, Jared said: "It's a pretty — to use Robb's word… I believe he used the word 'colossal' the other day. It's a pretty big-, epic-sounding album. We've been toying around with the order, but I've been listening, sitting down, taking the time to listen to it all the way through, and the way it goes, it's a ride — a really great, heavy, beautiful, melodic, raging, thrashing ride."
In November 2020, MACHINE HEAD released a single, "My Hands Are Empty", via Nuclear Blast. The song marked the first musical collaboration between Flynn and original "Burn My Eyes" guitarist Logan Mader in 24 years.
"My Hands Are Empty" was just one in a line of singles to be released by MACHINE HEAD, which issued "Do Or Die" in October 2019, "Circle The Drain" in February 2020, and the two-song digital single "Civil Unrest", consisting of "Stop The Bleeding" and "Bulletproof", in June 2020. "Stop The Bleeding" featured guest vocals from KILLSWITCH ENGAGE frontman Jesse Leach, and was written and recorded just days after the murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery.
MACHINE HEAD will team up with Sweden's Viking metal overlords AMON AMARTH for a co-headline "Vikings And Lionhearts" European arena tour in September and October. Support on the trek will come from THE HALO EFFECT, the new band featuring five former members of IN FLAMES: Peter Iwers, Daniel Svensson, Jesper Strömblad, Niclas Engelin and Mikael Stanne.
"Catharsis" was the final album to feature guitarist Phil Demmel and drummer Dave McClain, who both left MACHINE HEAD in October 2018.