Is There Anybody Out There? – Machinehead

Machinehead had a crack at ‘doing a black album’ here. They reinvented their sound by boiling it down to the bones and building up the muscles of what they wanted this song to do. The flair and the flail of The Locust and the sludge of Burn My Eyes are swept away to make for nought but the sum of the parts. Is There Anybody Out There is crunchy like Don’t Tread On Me or Sad But True were all that time ago when Metallica gave the trick it’s name.

From the ‘down the wire’ intro to the switch hit of vocal/riff/vocal over a very metal metronome the rush of the song doesn’t let up. There are some of the usual metal guitarist tricks but they’re metered out one after another to not distract from the pace. The lyrics at the time of release can only be taken as a state of the nation for a nation state that’s in a right state (mate). Although I have a friend who has a theory there’s a bit in there that’s a dig at Phil Anselmo too.

At 2:40 there’s an ethereal breakdown so we can hear the voice in the wilderness still calling out behind a trippy ‘Not all who wander are lost’ bit. It’s good.

Then right on time, the metal resumes to it’s logical conclusion (or concussion)

To see a band like Machine Head try this approach at this stage in their career I think was bold move. I’m not sure it paid off commercially for them but this record does what it sets out to do. Machine Head feel current again.

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