When Machine Head roared out of Oakland 17 years ago, they were hailed as one of the most brutal and potentially one of the best Metal acts to come down the heavy gauge pipe in a long time. Fronted by former Vio-lence and Forbidden vocalist/guitarist Robb Flynn, Machine Head set a sales record for Roadrunner Records when 1994’s Burn Your Eyes moved close to 400,000 units, making it the best selling debut in the label’s history. The band became a sensation in Europe on their opening slot for Slayer (they returned to headline within months).
The More Things Change... was similarly well received in the Metal community in 1997, but Machine Head shifted gears on 1999’s The Burning Red, where they dabbled in Nu Metal and Rapcore, resulting in a critical backlash from fans and the media. Still, the album sold extremely well.
Even more backlash awaited Machine Head on 2001’s similarly structured Supercharger. The band’s video for “Crashing Around You” was banned from MTV because of burning/falling building imagery (a definite no-no when coming just weeks after 9/11) and Roadrunner pulled its promotional budget, causing the band to leave the label.
Machine Head’s next album, 2003’s Through the Ashes of Empires, was only available in Europe until Roadrunner offered the band a contract that guaranteed them full ownership of the music. The group’s next album, 2007’s The Blackening, was viewed as a return to the viscerally-pummeling form of the first two albums and nearly cracked Billboard’s Top 50 albums in first week sales. More than a few critics pronounced it the best Metal album of the year.
Machine Head has toured worldwide relentlessly over the past two years. The band’s current American jaunt on Megadeth’s “The Endgame Tour” will be followed by dates with Metallica and a European run. After that, the group exits the road to begin work on its next album.
If they find a way to amplify the sounds and themes from The Blackening, Machine Head might just spawn the next great Metal epic.
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