“MACHINE FUCKIN’ HEAD!! MACHINE FUCKIN’ HEAD!! MACHINE FUCKIN’ HEAD!!”…that was the chant that was heard at Underground Arts in Philadelphia last week on a freezing Thursday night before the band took the stage AND after just about every song. MACHINE HEAD came to Philly doing “An Evening With…” show, something I wish more bands besides RUSH did. No three and four openers, no bullshit; just two hours of MACHINE HEAD, playing their asses off and leaving it out there each and every night on this tour. The report from Baltimore the night before said this was going to be a monstrous show and I couldn’t wait to be pummeled senseless. I got inside and the place was PACKED! You couldn’t get another person in there with a shoehorn. I found a spot at the corner bar which provided a great vantage point to watch the madness unfold.
At 9:30 it was time. Time for Robb Flynn (vocals/guitar), Phil Demmel (guitar), Jared MacEachern (bass), and Dave McClain (drums) to unleash the beast we were all looking for since we got there. Wasting zero fucking time the guys ripped into “Imperium” from 2003’s Through the Ashes of Empires and then The Blackening’s “Beautiful Mourning”. Widely regarded as two of MACHINE HEAD’S best albums (I couldn’t agree more), this one-two punch set an immediate tone for the evening. These guys did NOT come here to fuck around, and if you like soft-ass shit, you better run home, boy! Excellent new record Bloodstone & Diamonds made the first of four appearances with “Now We Die” which has become one of my go-to songs when I’m pissed and need to calm down. Rabid doesn’t even begin to describe this band’s fan base, as all around me I could see guys and girls alike violently headbanging and screaming along to every word of this one.
Empire was back for “Bite the Bullet” and if this doesn’t get your blood pumping I don’t know what will. This gave way to “Locust” arguably my favorite track from Unto the Locust. With its dark, ominous beginning and thunder crash it brings down on your head it felt like the Heavens might just open up and a bolt of lightning would impale the floor and everyone on it. I was pretty surprised to hear “From This Day” off 1999’s The Burning Red, an album that I love, but a lot of people use as reference when shit-talking MACHINE HEAD. The hook was great, and Robb managed to tone down the rap on the verses, thank the Gods. “Ten Ton Hammer”, an absolute monster of a song live came next, followed by “This Is the End” another fucking beast. It was like Godzilla and King Kong back-to-back, I swear!
If you’ve been lucky enough to catch MACHINE HEAD live these last couple of tours then you know that Robb likes to have a chat with the fans before “Darkness Within” during which he thanks, and I mean SINCERELY thanks everyone for coming out to see four real musicians play, and he salutes us for being some “Die-Hard Motherfuckers!!” He says a lot more, but that’s for you to experience for yourselves. Just know that a lot of bands say how much they love their fans, and do the whole, “Without you there’d be no…” but when Robb Flynn says it, you can take that shit to the motherfuckin’ bank, my friends. You feel it in your chest and you know it in your heart. And when the song starts, it’s like the runner waiting for that starting gun and once it’s fired this song will run over and through you just like that.
Of course “Bulldozer” an exercise in killer thrash metal had the crowd going batshit. Even if the Supercharger album isn’t all that well-loved this song sure as hell is. The audience was singing loud and clear on every word. New album standout “Killers & Kings” carved the place up like Thanksgiving turkey, Demmel and Flynn’s razor-sharp riffs serving as the carving knives, MacEachern’s bottom end and McClain’s ferocious drums holding it all together while the two guitar maniacs hacked and slashed their way through it. Back to debut record Burn My Eyes we went for “Davidian”, and if you’re thinking the circle pit was beyond insane then you’d be 100% correct. This one never fails to destroy live. New cut “Sail Into the Black” was a pleasant surprise and it worked brilliantly; that solo is just ripping. Hearing it live was unforgettable, and who knows if that will ever happen again.
Bartender! A double shot of The Blackening, please! Howsabout some “Now I Lay Thee Down” and “Aesthetics of Hate” back-to-back for ya? Because that’s exactly what we got; a double dose of the sledgehammer on the skulls. My favorite new track “Game Over” followed and this pleased me greatly. It is loud, angry, fiery, and straight up PISSED, and I love it! For their final assault the band hit us with “Old” and then “Halo”, two classics and two fan favorites as well. I screamed and screamed. Needless to say this show was beyond satisfying. It was beyond primal, and beyond a metal show; it transcended all those things. When it was over I found myself saying, “I want to fuck everything in sight, beat the shit out of anyone who crosses me tonight, and drink the blood of every animal I kill.” Such is the power of MACHINE FUCKIN’ HEAD Live. As of this writing there are 26 dates remaining on this tour. Miss them at your own peril…
LIVE REVIEW: THE MAESTRO
LIVE PHOTOS: MIKE SIEVILA PHOTOGRAPHY