Through the Ashes of Empires

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Through the Ashes of Empires
Machine Head - Through the Ashes of Empires.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 31, 2003
Label Roadrunner
Producer Robb Flynn
Machine Head chronology
Through the Ashes of Empires
Singles from Through the Ashes of Empires
  1. "Imperium"
    Released: December 16, 2003
  2. "Days Turn Blue to Gray"
    Released: 2004
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [1]
countercultureStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [2]
Rock Hard 9.5/10 [3]

Through the Ashes of Empires is the fifth studio album by American heavy metal band Machine Head. On this album, The band returned to their groove/thrash metal sound that was featured on their debut album Burn My Eyes and their second album The More Things Change... after experimenting with the nu metal genre featured on their previous two albums. It was released in the UK, Europe and Australia on the Roadrunner Records International label on October 31, 2003. At this stage, Machine Head still did not have an American record deal, having parted ways with Roadrunner Records US after the Supercharger album was released. Through The Ashes of Empires was such a success that Roadrunner Records US, in an unprecedented move, quickly offered Machine Head a new contract and the album finally reached North America on April 20, 2004. This album was also the first album to feature guitarist Phil Demmel, who would stay with the band until his departure in 2018.


On December 9, 2011, the album was certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry [4] and it has sold just under 80,000 copies in the UK. [5]


Because guitarist Ahrue Luster had left the band due to creative differences, the album was written by the remaining three band members, with then-temporary guitarist Phil Demmel only joining in for the recording sessions. When asked about the writing process for the album, vocalist and guitarist Robb Flynn said:

"...when Ahrue quit MH to go join Nickelback wannabes Juggernaut, we made a decision to start writing as a three-piece. We didn't want to go through the whole 'try out' process, and see if some new guy would fit." [6]

A special edition of the album was also released, containing a second disc with early demo recordings of songs from TTAOE as well as a short video of Machine Head in the studio during the recording of the album. The band discusses the gear used to record the album as well as various issues relating to it.

The band recorded an additional song, "Seasons Wither", for the North American release of the album as a measure of compensation for the American fans for having to wait so long; it was subsequently released internationally as a B-side on the "Days Turn Blue to Gray" single. According to guitarist Demmel, the song also gives an indication of the direction the band would take with their next album, The Blackening .

In 2013, Robb Flynn released a demo for the unused track "Pins and Needles", which the band rejected for being "one of the worst songs [Flynn has] ever written when it comes to [his] vocals and vocal ideas". Despite the group's negativity towards the demo, it would later be rewritten to become the Roadrunner United track "Army of the Sun" with Tim Williams from Vision of Disorder on vocals. [7]

The album can be considered an encapsulation of the band at that point, stylistically concompassing all four of their previous works. It has the melodicism of The Burning Red and Supercharger , the darker, heavier groove of The More Things Change and the sheer aggression of Burn My Eyes . Lyrically, the album is rooted in stories of personal struggles, triumphs, morbidity, and abuse.

The album has since proven to be a success with critics, music charts and fans. The album has been well-embraced as an excellent return to form both musically and lyrically. The difficult circumstances under which the album was recorded was documented on their concert DVD Elegies .

Critical reception

The album received positive reviews and was a commercial success, In 2005, Through the Ashes of Empires was ranked number 311 in Rock Hard magazine's book of The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time. [8]

Track listing

1."Imperium"Robb Flynn Robb Flynn, Dave McClain 6:41
2."Bite the Bullet"Robb FlynnRobb Flynn3:21
3."Left Unfinished"Robb FlynnRobb Flynn5:45
4."Elegy"Robb FlynnRobb Flynn, Dave McClain3:55
5."In the Presence of My Enemies"Robb FlynnRobb Flynn, Phil Demmel 7:07
6."Days Turn Blue to Gray"Robb FlynnRobb Flynn, Phil Demmel5:29
7."Vim"Robb Flynn, Adam Duce Robb Flynn, Dave McClain5:12
8."Seasons Wither"Robb Flynn, Adam DuceRobb Flynn, Phil Demmel6:18
9."All Falls Down"Robb FlynnRobb Flynn, Dave McClain4:29
10."Wipe the Tears"Robb Flynn, Adam DuceRobb Flynn, Dave McClain3:54
11."Descend the Shades of Night"Robb FlynnRobb Flynn, Dave McClain7:46

"Seasons Wither" did not appear on the original worldwide release, but was added to the US release to make up for the delayed release; in this edition, the song appears between "Vim" and "All Falls Down".

Bonus disc
1."Bite the Bullet" (Demo)3:51
2."Left Unfinished" (Demo)4:30
3."Elegy" (Demo)3:46
4."All Falls Down" (Demo)4:29
5."Descend the Shades of Night" (Demo)3:55
6."The Blood, the Sweat, the Tears (Live)" (Video)4:16
7."Through the Ashes of Empires Sessions" (Video)18:30



Chart (2003)Peak
Australian Albums Chart [9] 91
Austrian Albums Chart [10] 56
Dutch Albums Chart [11] 65
French Albums Chart [12] 44
German Albums Chart [13] 24
Swedish Albums Chart [14] 41
Swiss Albums Chart [15] 80
UK Album Chart [16] 77
US Billboard 200 [17] 88


RegionCertification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI) [18] Silver60,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

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