The back end of 2003 had a very different feel for Machine Head. The last couple of years had seen the band propel to new heights via their release of The Blackening in 2007 which in many ways can be looked at as their masterpiece, as well as the extensive impressive tours worldwide. If you told anyone at the start of 2003 that in ten years time Machine Head would end up sustaining their role as one of the bands at the very top of their genre you'd be greeted by sniggers and weird glances. Then came Through The Ashes Of Empire and the whole game changed.

The history behind the makeup of this album has been very well documented, mainly via the mini documentary on the brilliant Elegies DVD where it is made very clear that this album could very easily never existed in the way we know now. The band had been dropped by their label; they were down to three members, and well, everything was just going pretty badly. After the slightly lackluster Supercharger this was one of the best 'return to form' albums you can name. Burn My Eyes was the groundbreaking debut, The Blackening was their masterpiece, but Through The Ashes Of Empire was Machine Head's most important album. They moved away from perhaps mixing their style up to fit into the trends of the time, instead just doing what they do best and that is writing absolutely killer Groove/Thrash Metal tracks. Whilst it didn't appear on the UK version of the album, Seasons Wither was one of the most standout tracks from this period. If you had to look at it chronologically, this is the track which was the bridge towards the insanity which was The Blackening.

Opening track Imperium is probably one of the best tracks the band have ever written. For everything that was happening with the band at the time as well, what an opener. It was just a complete "we don't give a fuck, have some METAL" situation. If you'd been slightly turned off by this band then any doubts were quashed as soon as this six minute leviathan of a track concluded. Live you'd be hard pressed to find a track which stirs a bigger reaction. Lyrically the album goes very deep into Robb Flynn's psyche and throughout you see just how personal it was for him to get this album out there. Second track Bite The Bullet just envelops everything this album was all about to "Smash and Redefine".

With all that said, it's pretty clear that Through The Ashes is not an album which ten years later has disappeared into obscurity or anything. This album is still hugely relevant, we might not actually hear as many of the tracks live anymore, except of course Imperium, but as an album it's one of those which feels timeless and not an album of the time, which is exactly the same kind of impact Burn My Eyes has. The whole sorry mess with the label situation was quickly reversed after the impact it made in Europe. The US Roadrunner Records quickly put their tail between their legs and offered the band a new deal. Two things turned this band completely around, releasing Through The Ashes Of Empire and hiring Phil Demmel to take over lead guitar duties. Both just changed the game completely. We're ten years on since this album burst into the metal consciousness, and it sounds as good as ever.