Through the Ashes of Empires

Last updated
Through the Ashes of Empires
Machine Head - Through the Ashes of Empires.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedDecember 16, 2003
RecordedJune–July 2003
Label Roadrunner
Producer Robert 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 (Germany)9.5/10 [3]

Through the Ashes of Empires is the fifth studio album by groove metal band Machine Head. The band moved away from the nu metal genre featured on their previous two albums, and towards the style of their debut Burn My Eyes and their second album The More Things Change... It was released in the UK, Europe and Australia on the Roadrunner Records International label on December 16, 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 Robert 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

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

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


RegionCertification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI) [17] Silver60,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

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