2018 Stock Watch: A Perfect Circle Up, Machine Head way down

Now that we are five whole days into 2018, it’s time to look at who is, and who isn’t, ready for the new year:

STOCK UP: A Perfect Circle

If you just accept that Tool won’t be releasing a new album this year and allow yourself DisIllusionedto be happy that a new record from Maynard’s other project is on the way, then I promise you that you’ll be much happier and full of joy in the new year.

A Perfect Circle has released two tracks so far that may or may not be on their upcoming album, which is still untitled and doesn’t have a release date (hooray for ambiguity!): “The Doomed” and “Disillusioned”. Both tracks skew heavily towards the mellow side of the metal spectrum, but both tracks have me all-in on A Perfect Circle this year (just don’t watch the video for “The Doomed” if you know what’s good for you). They’re a fantastic blend of prog and APC’s pseudo-radio rock stylings, coming across as both subdued and engaging at the same time. The drums alone of “The Doomed” are enough to get my blood pumping despite that track barely registering above a whisper until the final moments.

A Perfect Circle haven’t put out an entire album’s worth of original work since 2003’s Thirteenth Step (I’m not counting 2004’s Emotive, which is a glorified cover album), so we are long overdue for some new material. Judging from their first two tracks, we are in for a good one.

STOCK DOWN: Machine Head

I really, really want to be excited about Machine Head’s upcoming record Catharsis. I wasn’t exactly enamored with 2014’s Bloodstone & Diamonds, but 2011’s Unto the Locust was a phenomenal record, showing that the band is still more than capable of churning out accessible metal classics. In early interviews about the new record, Robb Flynn has been bracing fans for a more melodic, less heavy record, which in my opinion doesn’t play to the band’s strengths. But I approached the two lead singles with an open mind, wanting them to be the Machine Head that I’ve loved.

“Beyond the Pale” isn’t a bad track, but I certainly wasn’t doing backflips after my first listen. It sounded like a last-minute cut from Bloodstone & Diamonds, lacking the heaviness that I craved but not moving the needle too much otherwise.

“Catharsis” the second single, is a goddamn dumpster fire. The track combines the worst parts of modern radio-rock with the worst parts of late 90’s to early 2000’s nu-metal. It is borderline unlistenable. I was physically ill on my first listen of the track, culminating in a fit of laughter near the end when the whole “talk loudly through gritted teeth to sound extra angry” section of the song came one. How this track even made it on the album, let alone became one of the promotional singles, absolutely boggles my mind.

So I’m officially lowering my expectations for Catharsis. But considering how little metal is typically released in the first quarter of the year, it still may be the biggest metal release any time soon.

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