By 9.24pm, on Wednesday, 24 June 2015 at the Metro Theatre, I had consumed my sixth beer in one hour waiting for Machine Head to hit the stage. A pretty awesome metal playlist was doing the rounds that had songs like “Sad But True” from Metallica and “In Due Time” from Killswitch Engage.
Then “Diary Of A Madman” started playing. It was ominous. The volume was initially low and the house lights were still on. Then the outro of “Diary” kicked in with the choir voices and the volume got cranked and the lights went out.
The chant went up, “Machine Fucking Head, Oh” (a point that Robb Flynn made later on in the show, that Australia is the only country to say Machine Fucking Head OH..) and the clean guitars started for “Imperium”. Everyone in the sold out venue knew that all hell was going to break loose. I was standing close to the mixer and I had a great view to the stage and to the circle pit. It was pandemonium.
Machine Head’s career was re-built upon “Imperium” and the 2003 album “Through The Ashes Of Empires” that it came from. The song is even more special based on Robb’s journals that covered the hardships in getting the album recorded.
“Through The Ashes of Empires” was released in December 2003 in Europe only. It took months to gain some traction and be discovered. In April, 2004, it got a U.S release and a subsequent world-wide release. Suddenly everybody knew it and everybody wanted to go see Machine Fucking Head live.
The knockouts kept on coming with “Beautiful Mourning” from “The Blackening” and “Now We Die” from “Bloodstone And Diamonds”.
“The Blackening” was another game changer for Machine Head. Released in 2007, it put them on the road for three years and in the process it cemented Machine Head’s reputation as a solid unit. That trend continued with “Unto The Locust” and “Bloodstone And Diamonds”.
I still think “Now We Die” should have been called “Now We Rise”. It would have been perfect in my eyes.
“Bite The Bullet” came next and then “Locust” sent everyone into a frenzy. It’s no coincidence that the first five songs all came from their last four albums.
I saw a person on crutches enter the circle pit and I said to myself that is not going to end well. Later on, I saw that dude on someone’s shoulders. He was okay, the Head Cases took care of him.
“From This Day” from 1999’s “The Burning Red”, “Ten Ton Hammer” from 1997’s “The More Things Change” and “Clenching The Fists Of Dissent” from “The Blackening” kept the knockout punches coming.
How good is that “fight” part in “Clenching”?
“Beneath The Silt” from “Bloodstone and Diamonds” was slow and groovy and “Crashing Around You” from 2001’s “Supercharger” album picked it all back up.
When I first heard “Crashing Around You”, I said to myself what an awesome rock song. It was better than anything that was mainstream back then. However, Roadrunner didn’t know what to do with the song, or how to market Machine Head and because of record label stupidity the song didn’t cross over. It’s one of my favourite cuts on “Supercharger”.
“The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears” from “The Burning Red” came next.
But it’s all about “Darkness Within” from “Unto The Locust”.
What a song, what a groove, what a melody and what a guitar solo by Phil. Along with “Bulldozer” from “Supercharger” and “Killers and Kings” from “Bloodstone And Diamonds” those three songs proved another killer trilogy in the set.
How good are the lyrics in “Bulldozer”? Another unheralded cut from “Supercharger”,
Somebody told me, I should do what they told me
But there’s a hole in their plan, and I’m tearing it down
You can almost picture the scene. Record label A&R douche telling Robb to wear an orange jumpsuit. Robb agrees for the greater good but…..
Trust our guts, follow our hearts, no one can break these nuts
These lips ain’t kissin’ asre
The path of most resistance tests all of our strength
The strength will not be denied
It’s like Robb foresaw the crap that would come their way post “Supercharger” and the mission involved to get “Through The Ashes Of Empires” recorded and then released.
Bulldozer goes against the odds
Bulldozer goes against the grain
You can interchange “Bulldozer” with “Machine Head” as both have three syllables. Machine Head goes against the odds. Machine Head goes against the grain. And thank god they did. It’s like their story before it even happened, getting dropped, then rejected. What makes the track rock is the groove.
“Sail In The Black” was excellent (although in some sections the backing synths overpowered the intro vocals) and “Davidian” from the 1994 debut “Burn My Eyes” followed.
You would think it would be over, but, NO it wasn’t.
“Now I Lay Thee Down” from “The Blackening”, “Aesthetics Of Hate” from “The Blackening” again, “Game Over” from “Bloodstone And Diamonds”, “Old” from “Burn My Eyes” and “Halo” from “The Blackening” again rounded out the night.
I didn’t see a phone or a camera recording the show. Everyone was there to experience it.
If they played “A Farewell To Arms” from “The Blackening” I would have completely lost it.
From the set list, you can see how important “The Blackening” is to Machine Head and to the Head Cases.
Yeah, Machine Head did have a catalogue before and after “The Blackening”, however their entire career will be attributed to this one album, showing the power of excellence.
A defining album, and in time it will be held in the same light as Metallica’s “Master Of Puppets” or Pantera’s “A Vulgar Display Of Power”.
By the end of the night, I had consumed 13 beers and still had room for many more.
To Machine Head, thanks for another great night in Sydney.
The future looks good, as the band is constantly replenishing their audience base. The crowd was a mixture of teens, twenty something’s, thirty something’s and forty plus. It was also a mixture of dudes and chicks. Like the song “Truckin” from The Grateful Dead, Machine Head just keep on truckin’ along and winning new fans along the way.
Two days later my ears are still ringing and I am still talking about the experience. That is what live music is all about. The experience