Robb Flynn Defends Catharsis
Sorry, Robb, had to do it because I know you’re reading this. Probably wouldn’t have even thought to write an article about it if you hadn’t specifically called us out. Hiiiiii! Love youuuuuu!
With that out of the way: Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn has taken to his favorite method of communicating with fans these days, the General Journals email newsletter, for a retrospective on the band’s most recent album, Catharsis, which came out three years ago today (January 26, 2017). The record was met with plenty of controversy upon its release, specifically for Flynn’s decision to bring some nu-metal and rapping elements back into the fold, but it performed quite well commercially and was followed by a very successful round of touring.
Reminding fans of those successes while calling out the haters, including Decibel Magazine by name, Flynn also pointed to the album’s lyrical themes as being more relevant now than ever in the wake of the Trump presidency and the insurrection attempt at the Capitol.
His letter reads in full:
“Hey guys, Robb here, figured I’d write a little piece on the album for it’s 3 year anniversary.
“I’m writing this to celebrate the record, and without a doubt 3 years later am just as proud of it. At 15 songs and 75 minutes it was A LOT to take in. I recall saying over and over again on the EU press tour in Oct 2017 that, ‘it was the ‘Lord Of The Rings’ of albums!’, and that, ‘in our short-attention-span-society, it was a terrible idea to release a record this long’. But we rolled with that decision. There are some fantastic songs that got overlooked on the album. It’s no secret that some folks (including former-members) have gone to great lengths to poo-poo the album, but the fact is, this album resulted in two certifiable smashes in the Machine Head live arsenal with ‘Catharsis’ and ‘Beyond The Pale’.
“Here were some of the chart positions.
– CATHARSIS debuts at #3 in Germany
– CATHARSIS debuts at #12 on the U.K. National charts,
– CATHARSIS debuts at #10 Australia
– CATHARSIS debuts at #17 in America
– CATHARSIS debuts at #10 Canada
“Catharsis opening week entries marked the highest chart positions in Machine Head’s (30 years this October) history including Top 5 and Top 20 positions in 15 different countries. These were not the ‘rock’ charts, these were not the “metal” charts, these were the official charts that quantify all music from country to pop. Besting previous chart positions for The Blackening, Unto The Locust, and Bloodstone & Diamonds.
“For me, the World Chart position was the most mind-blowing of all. You see, the World Chart is the cumulative chart ranking of all countries combined (ie: America, U.K., Denmark, Sweden, Poland, etc…), combining physical sales, streaming, and individual song downloads. While still a fairly new chart, as the global music community becomes more intertwined, its relevance has become more and more important.
“We came in at #15 on the World Chart.
“Let that sink in…
“‘Catharsis’ was the #15 album on PLANET EARTH the week of it’s release…
“We’re a metal band, with non-traditional promotion avenues, and with comparatively light (to some cases non-existant) radio play, absolutely zero video play out side of YouTube, in a genre that is still heavily on the physical side of music consumption, and yet, with your help, we managed to infiltrate the Top 20 of the global music community alongside Post Malone and Taylor Swift .
“It was/is something to be very proud of.
“Sure there was some stars aligning, but this was done on grass roots, word of mouth-type level. In a world dominated by hip hop and pop music, in terms of both sales and relevance, the Head Cases of the world sent a deafening message… Metal means something important.
“You and I both know, it isn’t always easy being a Head Case. You took A LOT of shit for Catharsis, and at the end of the day, you stand on the right side of history.
“So many of the topics that I took flack for, came true didn’t they? And isn’t it interesting how SO many in the metal media missed the message entirely? They missed the message about the ‘Unite The Right’ rally in Charlottesville in ‘Volatile’, the message about the insurrectionist-in-making Trump and his rise to power in ‘Bastards’, I don’t think any of them even made it to one of my favorite tracks ‘Eulogy’.
“Hate to say ‘I told ya so’, but…
“The Head Cases of America deserve some extra-props. They stood their ground through a veritable hurricane of negativity, belligerant-ass reviews (hi Decibel), and straight up online alt-right, extremist-hate mudding the waters. To ignore all that, and stand by YOUR band, meant more to Jared and I, than you will ever know. You deserve to be applauded so fucking loudly by the two of us, our hands should hurt from clapping and our throats from cheering.
“Was it a difficult record to make? Oh abso-fucking-lutely! Is there a backstory to the writing of this album that hasn’t been told? Definitely. But now is not the time to get into that.
“Nevertheless, there will come a day when this record get its due from the media. When movies or epic TV shows want to incorporate the symphonic masterstrokes of ‘Heavy Lies The Crown’, and ‘Catharsis’ into their battle scenes, or ‘Behind A Mask’ in their depressing/tender love scenes.
“And while a disappointing number of folks in the U.S. media, opted to do a hatchet job on Machine Head during this time, and paint our every move as a failure (I’m certain that even now the more gossip-minded-sites will paint this post as ‘Robb Flynn Defends Catharsis’), the sheer number of sold-out dates on the tour in both the U.S. and worldwide, wiped away any doubt of that. From LA to Boston, from Sydney to London, from Paris to Tokyo, from Berlin to Belgium, it was our most successful headline tour to that point in our history, and the fact that we did it alone, as “Evening With”, playing three hour shows, without a package of hot bands under us, spoke volumes.
“It’s hard to argue with success.
“And that success was because of you. The person reading this, if you’ve gotten this far, I KNOW you are a die-hard Head Case. Thank you for being along on the journey, thank you for your belief, your dedication, your intensity, your passion.
“You are the power and strength behind this.
“’The only thing keeping me sane, the music in my veins, and if these words are my fists, this is my catharsis’.”
Flynn, who presciently predicted early on in the pandemic that “normal” life for bands would be unlikely to return until 2022, has stayed busy during the quarantine with a handful of new singles and solo livestreams on Twitch. The band released an EP, Civil Unrest, in June — with Killswitch Engage’s Jesse Leach adding vocals — and another song, “My Hands are Empty,” in November. They also released a single called “Circle the Drain” back in February.