Single Slam – Bastards by Machine Head (Catharsis)

Metal giants, Machine Head, have released the third single from their new album, due out on the 26th of January. The single is called Bastards and it will feature on the album Catharsis which will be released via Nuclear Blast.

We have already had 2 singles from the new album so far and I have liked both. After frontman Rob Flynn forewarned us not to expect a thrashy, heavy album the first single dropped and completely contradicted him. Beyond the Pale is crunching and intense and is my favourite of all the single releases so far. It is a great, and a typical, Machine Head track. Title track, Catharsis, came next and is another great song and plenty heavy too though didn’t have quite the same impact on me as Beyond the Pale.


Bastards has a little bit of back story to it. A song that wasn’t originally planned to be on the new release, it was actually published on YouTube around 11 months ago as a one off “folk” track by Robb. A reaction by him to a conversation with his kids about the world today/then and his children’s fears. Time went by, the lyrical content is still relevant and so the band decided to rock up the track a bit and add it to the album.

Bastards is a little different to anything you will have ever heard Machine Head put together. At just over 5 minutes long, you would expect it to be an acoustic ballad, similar to the original but the band have really added a lot of oomph to the “metalled” version. A high toned electric guitar lead from Phil Demmel plays an echoed melody before Robb joins in with the acoustic. The first verse is sung at a reasonable pace, clean and ballad like. It is very clean and very soft in sound. A softly sung chorus has a nice rhythm to it and as it ends the music has faded to almost silence.

The silence breaks with a ring of guitars and small blasts from Dave McClain on the drums. Bastards switches in style now to a fast, folk beat that sounds almost Celtic at points. The vocals are delivered with more of a snarl and their pace of delivery makes the track feel like a punk song. It is fast and raucous, catchy and has a chorus designed perfectly for fans to sing in unison. A fast, crunching section with plenty of Jared MacEachren’s bass, of shouted “NOs” follows as the pace keeps you wanting to jump about. Another fast verse continues before it fades back into the acoustic chorus of the start to finish.

Now for the important bit, and opinionated bit. I should quickly say that any opinion expressed here are those of the writer, UnholyDarklotus, and don’t necessarily represent the views of GBHBL as a whole. Bastards biggest talking point, and for me, selling point isn’t in the simplistic style of the music on offer. It is in the lyrics. The lyrics are politically charged and, to some, controversial. They deal with the state of the world today, the PC brigade, Trump, segregation, racism, violence and hate. They are powerful and poignant and importantly, mean something to the artists representing a real conversation between a father and his sons.

Essentially, they represent everything to me that I expect and hope for from the bands I love. I want them to tell me how they feel. I want them to tell me their truth and I will then either buy into that or not. It is their truth on other tracks that have inspired me. It is their truth on other tracks that have helped me through dark times. I don’t get to decide which of their truths I want to hear or not. I just get to decide whether I buy into it or not. In Bastards, I do.

Since this song has been released, there has been plenty of criticism. Some people love it, some don’t like it and that is completely fair. However Robb, in particular, has received tons of abuse from the vocal minority for daring to put his opinion in a track. For daring to share his personal conversation with his children with us. That angers me. I won’t go into it in great detail here. This is just my review of the song, Bastards. I will say that I never thought I would see the day that a (small) portion of the metal community would be demanding a band don’t speak their truth. Don’t be controversial. Don’t share things from the heart, whether we agree or not.

The only thing I am sure of is that Robb, and Machine Head have broad enough shoulders to take it. In fact Bastards is ever more poignant for the abuse they are getting for saying what they are saying. I, personally, think it is a great song. Different, and definitely a bit of a surprise on a Machine Head album but I love it. I like the music, I like the punk rhythm and pace and I love the lyrics and passion in them. As Robb says in the song “Stand your ground. Don’t let the Bastards grind you down”.

Check out Bastards over at Machine Head’s YouTube channel here. It is available on all the usual streaming services now. Machine Head are out on tour in support of the new album soon too so check here for dates and venues. You can pick up a preorder of Catharsis from Nuclear Blast and other sources here. Check out Machine Head on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information on them. Be sure to give them a like and follow while you are there.

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  • Brendan Fisher

    Owner/Editor/Writer/YouTuber - Heavy Metal and reading, two things I have always loved so they are the two areas you will find most of my reviews. Post apocalyptic is my jam and I always have a book on the go and have for decades now. From a metal perspective, age has softened my inadequacies and I now operate with an open mind, loving many bands from many sub genres but having a particular admiration for the UK underground scene. In my other time, when not focused on Dad duties and work, I try to support the craft beer movement by drinking as much of it as I can and you will also find me out on the streets, walking. I love walking, I love exploring new places and snapping nature photos as I go.

Bastards by Machine Head (Catharsis)
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