MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn and bassist Jared MacEachern spent the last week Sharkbite Studios in Oakland, California with producer Zack Ohren working on the band's as-yet-untitled tenth album, tentatively due next summer. According to Flynn and MacEachern, they are "making great progress on at least six different new songs, including a 10-minute-plus epic."
This past June, MACHINE HEAD released the "Arrows In Words From The Sky" single. Featuring the tracks "Become The Firestorm", "Rotten" and "Arrows In Words From The Sky", the effort was recorded at Sharkbite. Joining Flynn and MacEachern during the sessions were drummer Navene Koperweiss (ENTHEOS, WHITECHAPEL, ANIMALS AS LEADERS) and Ohren.
In November 2020, MACHINE HEAD released a new single, "My Hands Are Empty", via Nuclear Blast. The song marked the first musical collaboration between Flynn and original "Burn My Eyes" guitarist Logan Mader in 24 years.
"My Hands Are Empty" was just one in a line of singles to be released by MACHINE HEAD, which issued "Do Or Die" in October 2019, "Circle The Drain" in February 2020, and the two-song digital single "Civil Unrest", consisting of "Stop The Bleeding" and "Bulletproof", in June 2020. "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.
According to Flynn, all three tracks from "Arrows In Words From The Sky" single — "Become The Firestorm", "Rotten" and the title track — as well as "My Hands Are Empty", will be included on the band's next full-length studio album. "And the other stuff is just gonna stay kind of in whatever void it came out in — and probably be released on a collection of songs with a bunch of other B-sides at some point, a physical version," he told the "Behind The Vinyl" podcast in June. "But for now, these four songs, and then some future songs, are gonna make up the next record."
Asked if the "turbulent" nature of the last couple of years was a good thing for him creatively, Flynn said: "Oh, totally. I'm an impatient man. [Laughs] I want it, and I want it now. And the music business can be mind-numbingly slow at times. And certainly with the pandemic now, just the lead time to set up a record is, like, seven months. Vinyl is fucking seven months. If I turned in a record today — done, mastered, finished, artwork, everything — we're not gonna get the vinyl until seven months from now. I'm, like, 'This is fucking crazy.' And I don't wanna wait; I just wanna put it out.
"When I started in the [1980s] thrash scene, bands put out demos and fucking rehearsals and new songs every month or two," he explained. "I had every EXODUS song released just from bootlegs and from demos and stuff like that. Same with METALLICA. And it was just so much faster. And the world has just kind of shifted into this extremely slow — certainly the metal world has. And I wanted to bring it back to that… Yes, I'm not releasing a cassette tape, but yeah, I'm putting it out so that if the diehards wanna hear it, you can fucking hear it. And consistently do that — consistently put out music so that it's constantly giving the fans, the diehard fans, the Head Cases, the ones who fucking live and breathe this shit, something to chew on every three or four months. And I really dig it. I think it's amazing. And I think that we have the technology — thanks to Spotify and all the streaming services now — [so that] we can do this shit. So why not?"
Five months ago, MACHINE HEAD announced that it was abandoning plans to resume its "Burn My Eyes" 25th-anniversary tour now that the pandemic is slowing down. Flynn said that the "Burn My Eyes" tour, which saw him and MacEachern play the band's classic debut album in its entirety for the first time ever, with original "Burn My Eyes"-era drummer Chris Kontos and Mader joining in, would not pick up at such a time as MACHINE HEAD can continue touring. Flynn also confirmed that MacEachern is still a member of MACHINE HEAD alongside new recruits, guitarist Wacław "Vogg" Kiełtyka (DECAPITATED) and British drummer Matt Alston.
MACHINE HEAD will team up with Sweden's Viking metal overlords AMON AMARTH for a co-headline "Vikings And Lionhearts" European arena tour in September and October 2022. Support on the trek will come from THE HALO EFFECT, the new band featuring five former members of IN FLAMES: Peter Iwers, Daniel Svensson, Jesper Strömblad, Niclas Engelin and Mikael Stanne.