No strangers to politically charged metal anthems, Machine Head have released Civil Unrest, a two-song digital single featuring the A-side "Stop the Bleeding," featuring Killswitch Engage vocalist Jesse Leach, as well as the B-side "Bulletproof." The outraged protest songs were both penned days after the back-to-back murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. The former arrives along with a gritty performance music video directed and edited by Mike Sloat, mostly filmed on the streets of Oakland, California, with Leach's part filmed in Kingston, New York, with David Brodsky. Watch and listen above, and check out "Bulletproof" below.
Machine Head bandleader Robb Flynn commented, "I wrote and sang the lyrics on Wednesday, May 27th 2020, the day that the four officers who murdered George Floyd were (originally) not charged with anything. This day was engulfed in protests and riots across America. I drove into Oakland past large demonstrations already happening and in a fury wrote down everything I was feeling after watching the horrific footage. Within hours, what I wanted to say, what I needed to say had been recorded in the song.
"I decided to sing it over a song called 'Stop the Bleeding', that we had recorded back in December. 2018 with Jared [MacEachearn, Machine Head bass guitar] and Carlos Cruz [Warbringer] on drums."
Speaking to Leach's involvement, Flynn added, "I had been speaking with Jesse for maybe six months about singing on the song, as it always had a little bit of a Killswitch vibe to me. Unfortunately (or fortunately), our schedules hadn't lined up, but with the subsequent lockdown from coronavirus, we had time to make it work. After what happened to George Floyd, I sent him the lyrics I'd written and he replied saying he was '100 percent on board.' Jesse is someone I consider to be a pioneer and in many ways, one of the men who changed the face of metal. His contribution to this song made it extremely powerful and it's an honor to have him be a part of it."
For his part, Leach said that "being asked to be part of this song is an honor." "Yes, because it's Machine Head, but more importantly, this is a message that needs to be heard and spread," he explained. "These issues concerning abuses of power and racism are timeless. I have written about these previously and I'll write about them again. I think Robb really nailed this one, both lyrically and sonically. My hope is this song helps awaken those who hear it. Robb has been a frequent voice of the voiceless in these times, so teaming up with him is a no brainer. We need more of our metal community to speak out on social issues and help raise awareness, especially during these crucial times. Music is the soundtrack to our lives; it transcends language and culture. This is the reason we as musicians need to do our part to spark thought and discussion on these types of issues. We can make a difference through music and we can help stop the bleeding."
Machine Head will donate a significant portion of the streaming proceeds from "Stop the Bleeding" to Grassroots Law Project, the organization representing George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. You can stream and purchase Civil Unrest here.