Through the Ashes of Empires not only recalls the group's glory years but it also surpasses them in terms of compositional complexity. "Imperium" runs through psychedelic haze, blinding thrash, crushing sludge and hardcore breakdowns within an insanely invigorating six-minute span. "Descend the Shades of Night," a truly powerful ballad, evolves from frosty acoustic tones to gorgeous Iron Maiden-style dual-ax harmonies. Ashes preserves its finest elements (guitar leads that zip like shooting stars, Robert Flynn's muted slow-burn verses and fiery choruses) while adding ambitious experimental flourishes (sharp signature changes, stark silhouette segments that isolate melodies). Such subtleties might escape scrutiny live, because Machine Head's manic mosh pits are perhaps second only to Slayer's.