Revisited: Machine Head 'Supercharger'

Almost as big of a talking point as the Bay Area quartet's third album 'The Burning Red', Machine Head followed up their first venture into nu metal territory with 'Supercharger'- released October 2, 2001 through Roadrunner Records.

Produced by Johnny K, who had already turned Disturbed's 'The Sickness' into a world-beater, 'Supercharger' was a solid slice of metal that also contained some of the band's classic thrash and groove sound, along with Robb Flynn's underestimated rapping vocals which he can still perform better than most.

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Completing the line-up with Ahrue Luster on lead guitar, Adam Duce on bass and Dave McClain on drums, the album featured some of Machine Head's strongest material- the crushing and devastating 'Bulldozer', the incredible metallic ballad 'Deafening Silence', and the rap happy onslaught of 'All in Your Head'.

The lead and what would turn out to be only single from the album was 'Crashing Around You', which originally was a highly popular song on both rock radio and music channels galore; but a certain atrocity would soon consume America (and a lot of the world), and 'Supercharger' would pay a heavy price because of it.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 'Crashing Around You' was pulled from MTV due to the 'Crashing' lyric and the burning skyline of San Francisco seen in the music video. A big setback for a great song, of course some sensitivity was needed at this time, and it wasn't just Machine Head who would fall foul. Drowning Pool's 'Bodies' was another prime example, although the song had already gathered terrific momentum before then, and Saliva's 'Click Click Boom' was another unfortunate and unintentionally ill-timed track to be put out.

With the world still reeling, 'Supercharger' had fairly little promotional support, and upon its release in the first week of October, the record only reached 115 on the Billboard 200. In the UK it managed to get inside the Top 40, but the best chart position was in Australia- getting to number 24.

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Even now, the album has only sold around 80,000 copies worldwide, which poses the question- was 'Supercharger' really a bad album, or did it get lost in the shuffle while the world, and America in particular, paused for breath and considered its next move regarding issues that were far more important than music?

It's an interesting topic because of how popular Machine Head remain today, but there also those who continue to malign the record due to its venture further towards nu metal, and (at the time) even further away from the thrash metal sound that had made the band one of the most important acts in the scene.

We all know that when the band returned in 2003, they went back to their thrash roots on the exceptional 'Through the Ashes of Empires', where the first moments of 'Imperium' confirmed this without a shadow of a doubt. 

'Supercharger' also turned out to be Luster's last album with the band, as Phil Demmel took over on guitar, and from there Machine Head became one of the biggest thrash metal bands in the world courtesy of 2007 effort 'The Blackening'.

'Supercharger' Track Listing:

1. Declaration 2. Bulldozer 3. White-Knuckle Blackout! 4. Crashing Around You 5. Kick You When You're Down 6. Only the Names 7. All in Your Head 8. American High 9. Brown Acid 10. Nausea 11. Blank Generation 12. Trephination 13. Deafening Silence 14. Supercharger