San Francisco Bay Area metallers MACHINE HEAD have released a new single, "My Hands Are Empty", via Nuclear Blast. The song marks the first musical collaboration between MH mastermind Robb Flynn and original "Burn My Eyes" guitarist Logan Mader in 24 years.
From the haunting opening vocal, the classical drums, the melancholy guitar line, the listener knows they are in for something epic. The sky gets a little darker, the goosebumps start to prickle the skin, ears search to hear what comes next. By the time the verse kicks in, the heaviness overtakes.
"MISERY, cover me in waves, the heartache is slowly, withering, I become her slave"
And so begins a song of depression and opioid addiction, by MACHINE HEAD.
Flynn explains: "I have some family members who have beaten their opioid addiction, and have some still in the throes of addiction. It is painful to watch, and I deal with it with great difficulty. It is a song of sadness, but there is hope as well. I have beaten my own drug addictions and we can fight through this, together, and share our pain with the world."
He continues: "Musically I wanted to go for a bit of a 'Through The Ashes Of Empires' vibe, and it had a grandiose vibe from the beginning, something about that vocal melody haunted me day and night. I sent it off to one of our collaborators Joel Wanasek, and he came back with a whole depth and dimension with strings and keys that really made the song come alive. I added the guitar harmony in the chorus soon after and I knew we were on to something special.
"On the recent 'Burn My Eyes' 25th-anniversary tour, I mentioned to Logan about needing a riff or two for a new song, [and] he was excited to collaborate. I sent him the song and the next day he sent me back the heavy riff in the bridge and I was floored. It fit perfectly, and felt really cool to be writing together 24 years later. Jared [MacEachern, bass] came up with the rhythm under the lead section and the song really locked into place."
Mader adds: "During pre-pro for the 'Burn My Eyes' anniversary tour last year, I had a special opportunity to collaborate with MACHINE HEAD for the first time in over 20 years.
"This is a big milestone for me, to circle back on a massive orbit around life and end up doing new music with MH is epic and unexpected. The song 'My Hands Are Empty' was almost completed but needed a riff or two. Robb sent it to me, so I jumped in and added a section which ended up in the master after some arrangement tweaks by Robb. The song is amazing. It was a great feeling to be in the studio with Robb after all these years and I hope to do it again!"
The earth-pounding drums were performed by Navene Koperweis (ENTHEOS, WHITECHAPEL, ANIMALS AS LEADERS) who performed on the track "Circle The Drain" (released in February) and the song feature trading vocals in the chorus between lead singer Flynn and bassist Jared MacEachern for a truly dynamic feeling musical piece.
Once again produced by Zack Ohren and Robb Flynn, and masterfully mixed by Colin Richardson, the accompanying video was directed by Mike Sloat of Roaring Mouse Productions and proved to be quite a challenge in the COVID-19-era, with Northern California health officials shutting down the shoot 24 house prior, but ever the improvisers, were able salvage the whole affair, and the stunning results can be viewed below.
"My Hands Are Empty" is the latest in a line of singles to be released by MACHINE HEAD, which issued "Do Or Die" in October 2019, "Circle The Drain" in February, and the two-song digital single "Civil Unrest", consisting of "Stop The Bleeding" and "Bulletproof", in June. "Stop The Bleeding" featured guest vocals from KILLSWITCH ENGAGE frontman Jesse Leach, and was written and recorded just days after the murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery.
This past June, Flynn said that there is no pressure for the band to release a full-length album anytime soon. "I'm all about dropping singles right now," he told Knotfest.com's "Mosh Talks With Beez". "I think an album will definitely show up, and some of these songs may end up on that album, but, to me, it's all about just a constant stream of music dropping all the time.
"We're pretty slow with albums — it's already been two and a half years since our last album [2018's 'Catharsis'] — so I just don't wanna wait another year to get music out. The music's here, the music's done; a lot of the lyrics that I've written are very much now, and they need to be heard now, in this moment.
"I do a podcast, and I can record a podcast and have it up an hour later. That's fucking crazy to me. I can finish a song and have it up six hours later on all the fucking digital service providers," he said. "That's fucking amazing. Never in history have we been able to do something like that. And we need to do more of that, especially with songs that are written about this moment and these times. It's important to put 'em out now, not a year and a half from now."
In July, MACHINE HEAD canceled its previously announced rescheduled 2020 tour dates for Europe and Australia due to the coronavirus pandemic which is sweeping the globe.
Each show on MACHINE HEAD's "Burn My Eyes" 25th-anniversary tour consisted of two parts: part one saw Flynn and MacEachern performing alongside new recruits, guitarist Wacław "Vogg" Kiełtyka (DECAPITATED) and British drummer Matt Alston (DEVILMENT, EASTERN FRONT); while part two featured "Burn My Eyes" played in its entirety for the first time ever, with original "Burn My Eyes"-era drummer Chris Kontos and Mader joining in.