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Machine Head

Machine Fucking Head Live

(Roadrunner; US: 13 Nov 2012; UK: 13 Nov 2012)

The Blood, the Sweat, the Tears...

Machine Fucking Head Live is a double live album made up of 15 of Machine Head’s best known tracks recorded at various shows around the globe during last year’s world tour in support of the band’s seventh studio album, Unto the Locust. For those who had the pleasure of witnessing the Oakland-based metal legends live last year you will be aware that Machine Head totally killed it night after night. The tour followed a period of inter-band turmoil that left the band’s future uncertain, but judging by what was stated in the press, as well as the sense of camaraderie onstage, Machine Head’s inter-personal relationships appeared stronger than ever during a rigorous tour schedule that spanned the world over.


Machine Fucking Head Live is the band’s second live album — Machine Head’s first, Hellalive, was released in 2003 — and in any other circumstances such a release would be declared superfluous, but given the spike in creativity and critical acclaim that began with 2003’s studio album Through The Ashes of Empire, and hit an unexpected high with 2007’s thrash metal masterpiece, The Blackening, and carried through to 2011’s Unto the Locust, this record is almost celebratory in nature, and its release does not come as a surprise.


This live record has a contemplative side to it also, as it gifts band members—Robb Flynn (vocals/guitars), Adam Duce (bassist), Phil Demmel (guitars) and Dave McClain (drums)—the opportunity to step back and reflect upon the band’s accomplishments over a journey that has lasted 18 years and has treaded close to the crumbling precipice on more than one occasion. And instead of just releasing the obligatory “Best Of” — which in the age of digital downloads holds little or no currency — Machine Head’s choice of releasing a live album is much more significant, as it gives fans 15 living and breathing versions of old and new classics to fawn over.


Spanning the band’s entire discography, the song selection for Machine Fucking Head Live can hardly be disputed, as it includes the forever monstrous “Old” and “Davidian” taken from the band’s incendiary debut, Burn My Eyes; throttling versions of crowd favourites “Ten Ton Hammer” (The More Things Change…) and “The Blood, the Sweat, the Tears” (The Burning Red); and “Bulldozer” off the heavily criticised, and to be fair, creative low point, Supercharger. In addition these metal anthems and the indomitable “Imperium” from Through the Ashes of Empires — which sounds particularly devastating here — the rest of the songs are culled from Machine Head’s last two albums; such is the quality of the band’s output since 2007.


As is with every live album however, Machine Fucking Head Live is the experience of a Machine Head live show without having the full use of all five senses — sure you can hear the roar of the crowd and the guys sound on top of their game, but unless you can feel the music hit your gut while the reverberations of McClain’s juddering double bass pounds on your chest-bone during “Locust”, or experience the outpouring of energy from crowd as they decimate themselves to “I Am Hell (Sonata in C#)”, or stand mouth-agape watching the scintillating musicianship onstage, as Flynn, Duce and Demmel channel prime Iron Maiden during the solo-sections of The Blackening‘s “Aesthetics of Hate”, it feels like you are missing out.


Because of this, while listening to live albums the listener must visualise what actually happened when these songs were recorded live, and in order to fully experience a live record in all its glory, it’s important that the songs be taken from the one show, à la the original version of Iron Maiden’s Live After Death. Slipknot and Pantera both made this mistake when releasing live records, and unfortunately, so too has Machine Head.


But besides missing that auditory treat of a single show in its entirety, Machine Fucking Head Live is a chance for those around the world who have either been lucky enough to see the band live in recent times, to reminisce and mosh around the living room, and for those who have not been so lucky, the chance to imagine the absolute power behind one of metal’s most ferocious and consistent live acts — and also mosh around the living room!

Rating:

Dean Brown has an obsessive love of music in every shape and form, with a deep respect for bands that play from the heart. He is a Contributing Editor here at Popmatters, writer for Last Rites (www.lastrit.es), About.com/heavymetal (heavymetal.about.com/), and his work can also be found at soundshock.com, scratchtheSurface-webzine.com, metalireland.com, tighttothenail.com, amongst others. He is also a columnist for the quarterly digital zine Backlit (www.backlitzine.com). Dean can be found on twitter: @reus85


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'Machine Fucking Head Live' (Official Trailer)
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