Through the Ashes of Empires

Through the Ashes of Empires
Studio album by Machine Head
Released December 16, 2003
Recorded June–July 2003
Genre Groove metal, thrash metal
Length 53:46
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
Rock Hard (de)9.5/10[3]

Through the Ashes of Empires is the fifth studio album by heavy 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.

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 United States.[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.

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.[7]

Track listing

No. TitleLyricsMusic Length
1. "Imperium"  Robert FlynnRobert Flynn, Dave McClain 6:41
2. "Bite the Bullet"  Robert FlynnRobert Flynn 3:21
3. "Left Unfinished"  Robert FlynnRobert Flynn 5:45
4. "Elegy"  Robert FlynnRobert Flynn, Dave McClain 3:55
5. "In the Presence of My Enemies"  Robert FlynnRobert Flynn, Phil Demmel 7:07
6. "Days Turn Blue to Gray"  Robert FlynnRobert Flynn, Phil Demmel 5:29
7. "Vim"  Robert Flynn, Adam DuceRobert Flynn, Dave McClain 5:12
8. "All Falls Down"  Robert FlynnRobert Flynn, Dave McClain 4:29
9. "Wipe the Tears"  Robert Flynn, Adam DuceRobert Flynn, Dave McClain 3:54
10. "Descend the Shades of Night"  Robert FlynnRobert Flynn, Dave McClain 7:46


Chart positions

Chart (2003) Peak
Austrian Albums Chart[8] 56
Dutch Albums Chart[9] 65
French Albums Chart[10] 44
German Albums Chart[11] 24
Swedish Albums Chart[12] 41
Swiss Albums Chart[13] 80
UK Album Chart[14] 77
The Billboard 200[15] 88


  1. "Through the Ashes of Empires - Machine Head". Allmusic.
  2. "Machine Head : Through The Ashes Of Empires". Counter Culture.
  3. Weber, Volkmar. "Rock Hard review". issue 199. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  6. "Machine Head Interview". Lambgoat. Interview conducted in January, 2005. Posted on April 17, 2005.
  7. [...], Rock Hard (Hrsg.). [Red.: Michael Rensen. Mitarb.: Götz Kühnemund] (2005). Best of Rock & Metal die 500 stärksten Scheiben aller Zeiten. Königswinter: Heel. p. 88. ISBN 3-89880-517-4.
  8. "Machine Head - Through The Ashes Of Empires".
  9. "Machine Head - Through The Ashes Of Empires".
  10. "Machine Head - Through The Ashes Of Empires".
  11. "Chartverfolgung / Machine Head / Longplay" (in German).
  12. "Machine Head - Through The Ashes Of Empires".
  13. "Machine Head - Through The Ashes Of Empires".
  14. Zywietz, Tobias. "Chart Log UK: M – My Vitriol". Zobbel.
  15. "Through the Ashes of Empires - Machine Head". Billboard.
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