MACHINE HEAD’s Robb Flynn Checks In From The Studio

Wednesday, 30th April 2014

MACHINE HEAD are currently hard at work on their new album, slated for a summer 2014 release. The record is being produced at GREEN DAY’s Oakland, California based JingleTown Recording studio by band leader Robb Flynn and engineered by renowned Juan Urteaga who already worked for bands like TESTAMENT, HEATHEN and EXODUS.

Flynn checks in with an update: “Greeting my friends from sunny Northern California where it’s 91 degrees today (!) and The Lawsuit Kings are hard at work completing what is going to be a massive, MASSIVE album. Yep, we’re still in the studio, and as much as I’d love to say we’re done, we still got a few weeks left to go. So yes, you did the math correctly, that’s 10 weeks we’ve been in here, WHEW! I know, seems like a while, but in reality, it took us 3 months to record The Blackening, (most of which was guitars), so were about the on par with that.

Not to say that this record is anything like The Blackening, it isn’t. But what I would say is that the song are as epic in scope, if not more so, except where The Blackening was more epic in the guitar department, this is more epic in the EVERYTHING department. Strings arrangements, keyboard arrangements, massive vocal layering (one track, ‘Sail Into The Black’ has 40 tracks of vocals), drum overdubs, and of course the standard-Machine Head quadruple-tracking of the guitars. It takes a while to complete, but FUCK, does it sound CRUSHING when it’s done!!

We sent the first finished tracks (‘Killers & Kings’ and ‘Night Of Long Knives’) off to Colin Richardson to mix over in England, and we will continue hammering out the remaining songs, and the remaining 12 tracks of guitar to do. We should finish the track formerly known as “DokVanSchenkerSnake” (now called ‘Ghosts Will Haunt These Bones’) today.

Jared has been laying down some serious bass playing through his new Spector bass, an Avalon DI, and a great sounding Aguilar Bass Amp, plus singing some KILLER high vocal harmonies. Phil has been laying down some of the tastiest, chewiest, most sing-a-long leads I’ve ever heard him do, and that’s saying something.

Phil has definitely re-envisioned his lead-style and it’s really cool to hear him challenge himself like this after all these years into playing with him. It’s less all-out shredding, and more perfect-note-choice. We’ve talked numerous times about how cool it is that you can “hum” Kirk Hammet’s leads, that they are SO memorable they become part of the melody of the song, and he’s been really inspired by that. You guys will be stoked.

I know I brought up The Blackening earlier, but I want to re-iterate, I don’t feel this record sounds like The Blackening. It feels like we’re still moving forward. If I HAD to compare it to another record of ours, it may be closer to Through The Ashes Of Empires in one aspect only, the simpler song arrangements. It’s still what I would just call classic-metal, but we’ve simplified beats, simplified riffs, taken the unnecessary complicated-ness of something and made it simple.

I’ve even applied that to my lyrics, where I’ve stripped out a lot of extra words (“the’s”, “and’s, etc), and invented a lyrical technique I call “clustering”, where you cluster vowels or cluster “plosives” (“K’s”, “T’s”, “Ch’s”) together to make it sound heavier, or flow better. It doesn’t read all that poetically, but in the song it sounds really cool. I’ve also really worked hard on sharpening up my rhyme-schemes, finding clever places to place rhymes, instead of the usual place at the end of a line, or even again, “clustering” rhymes. It makes an abstract concept like ‘Killers & Kings’ (which references 20+ Tarot Cards, and that I’m very proud of the end result) to have a real meaning.

Out of that stripped down musical landscape, we’ve then taken that new (to us at least) “extra space” and added in layers of strings, layers of dark, ambient keys, layers and layers of vocals, and it sounds HUGE. I just watched a documentary of A Night At The Opera by QUEEN, and while I’d never EVER put myself in FREDDIE MERCURY’s-league, there have definitely been times during this recording where I’ve drawn a parallel to the epic-ness involved to make this album be what it needs to be.

The A Night At The Opera of metal? Well… that’s a fuckin’ stretch, we are just a metal band at the end of the day, but we’re on to something here. Something’s happening. Something special. Dent The Universe!!”

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