Machine Head really pissed me off the first time I heard The Burning Red. Seriously - I took off work the day it was released and drove fifty miles to pick up a copy, threw it in and everything started off so promising. And then Rob Flynn started rapping. My friend Chuck and I just looked at each other in dismay as the realization that the band destined to save true metal had decided to go the way of Limp Bizkit.

I'm a huge fan of Burn My Eyes and The More Things Change... but there was no way I could come on board with the direction the band was taking - and I honestly tried. I went as far as to pick up the even less spectacular Supercharger when it came out only to sell it within a few days.

Fast-forward to 2003 and Machine Head decide it's time to get heavy again and release Through The Ashes Of Empires. While stylistically it was more akin to their earlier stuff, I still felt like the band was following trends as the musical climate in general was shifting back toward heavier stuff and completely lost interest in a band that I felt were leaders not followers when they burst onto the scene in the 90's.

As a result, I didn't even bother with The Blackening until I came across a radio copy when I took over as Buzz Program Director almost two years after it was released and was fairly impressed but it didn't honestly grab my full attention like it did so many people whose opinions I respect.

Needless to say I was cautiously optimistic when Unto The Locust came across my desk but of course I was going to give it a good listen.

I don't know if it's because Unto The Locust is what I want to hear from the band at this point of their career or what because most reviews I read liken it to The Blackening but it definitely grabbed my attention upon first listen. Maybe I just never gave the latter enough of a chance and need to revisit said album after I'm through digesting the new one.

My thing is that Unto The Locust sounds like Machine Head and no one else while displaying a mature, progressive side of a band that are truly pushing themselves to be the best they can. The album is heavy yet melodic and while the songs are pretty frickin' long, I never lose interest and really feel like the band is doing what I love most - taking the listener on a journey full of peaks and valleys.

I would never expect a band to try to recreate what they did in their early years but I do ask that they stay true to the sound that made me a fan to begin with and let's just say that I'm back and fully on board with Machine Head.

Unto The Locust is out now on Roadrunner Records.