Work travel has made for a stunted start to a new year of music for ILSUDH2, but Brian H is here with the year’s first metal review!
Machine Head is one of those bands that have been through some ups and downs over the years. After obliterating the metal world with their debut album Burn My Eyes in 1994, they followed up with another solid effort in The More Things Change. From there it was a series of albums that had some good songs on them, but strayed too far into the trends that were happening at the time and a lot of fans started to give up hope that Machine Head could kill it like they used to. Then out of nowhere the song “Imperium” showed up on the Through The Ashes album and we knew that fire and ability was still there. With The Blackening in 2007 they surpassed all of their previous efforts since Burn My Eyes and created one of the great metal albums of the last 10 years. After my first few listens of the latest album Unto the Locust I felt that it lacked the focus of The Blackening and I was a little disappointed, but since then the album has really started to grow on me.
On Sunday night Machine Head started their 8th Plague US Tour here in Denver at the Summit Music Hall. Opening for them was The Darkest Hour and Suicide Silence. The doors were supposed to open around 6 pm and although I listened to Darkest Hour a lot on the Undoing Ruin album, I have not listened much since then and Suicide Silence is a band I just have not got around to listening to yet. When I arrived at about 8:45 the guy at the door informed me that everything was about an hour behind schedule so Machine Head wouldn’t be on until around 10:20. My need for a Pliny the Elder at the Falling Rock Tap House across the street far outweighed my need to see Suicide Silence, so across the street I went. (Sorry guys but it is a great beer)
After a couple of beers I headed back over to Summit at around 9:50, and after a few songs over the PA Ozzy’s “Diary of a Madman” started playing and I had a feeling this was the lead up to the show starting. (I like when bands play specific songs before they begin their set) With its classical influence “Diary” would be a perfect lead in to “I Am Hell” from the latest Machine Head album. With the end of “Diary” the lights dropped and Machine Head started up as I expected. Once the vocal intro of “I Am Hell” ended the band launched into a slow groove before beginning their full on assault. You could tell from the pit this was a show Denver was ready and waiting for.
The set continued with “Be Still and Know” off of the latest album and then a blistering version of “Imperium”. After a few songs we were back to the new album’s title track. A word of warning to all bands that use a predetermined spoken word intro to a song while music plays behind you, it is going to sound like “Stonehenge”, and Robb’s intro to this song fell into that trap. Luckily it is a damn good song once it gets going.
Two songs later “Aesthetics of Hate” was up and this is one hell of a song live. Dimebag could not ask for a greater tribute to his legacy.
Up next was the definite highlight for the evening for me as “Old” is my absolute favorite Machine Head song and the band flat out killed it.
“Darkness Within” is one of the more unique tracks on the new album and I definitely was not sure about it when I first heard it, but the song and its message of music as a source of strength is definitely one I get and agree with. The song works even better live and the “breakdown” on it is actually one of the best in the Machine Head catalog. I also have to give an extra shout out to Phil Demmel’s solo on this song. Absolutely perfect.
A few more songs including the classic “Ten Ton Hammer” and we were on to the set closer. I like “Who We Are”, but I am not sure if it really should be the closer and with its inclusion it brought the total to 6 of 7 songs from the new album. (When a band has a great back catalog I am more partial to 4-5 songs from the current album) With Burn My Eyes being such a classic album, Machine Head’s set list and how many songs are played from that album is always going to be a point of discussion and I have no problem saying I would have rather heard two more songs from it by removing “The Blood, The Sweat the Tears”, “Bulldozer” or “Who We Are”. All three are solid songs, but “A Thousand Eyes” or “None But My Own” would have been welcome changes.
For the encore “Halo” was up first. Another classic off of The Blackening that always gets the crowd singing along and of course from there than band moved to the standard MH closer “Davidian”. I can still remember the first time I heard the line “Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast” way back in 1994. The song is still as powerful today as it was then.
Overall a great show and one that proves why Machine Head is a must see whenever they come to town. Robb is one of the great front men in the business and with Phil having been in the band for quite a few years this is solid as the band has ever sounded.
I Am Hell (Sonata in C#)
Be Still and Know
The Blood, the Sweat, the Tears
This Is the End
Aesthetics of Hate
Ten Ton Hammer
Who We Are