Machine Head stepped into the metal scene back in 1991 after Robb Flynn and original bass player Adam Duce left the popular Oakland based thrash band Vio-Lence. But it was the monumental debut album Burn My Eyes that put them on the map. The record shattered Roadrunner Records previous best selling debut with over 400,000 copies and earning them the opening slot of Slayers European tour later that year. 25 years later, this legendary band graces us with not only one set of fast paced brutality, but to give the fans a second set dedicated solely to bringing Burn My Eyes to life with the original lineup!
As I walk into the House of Blues, it dawns on me that this was the first time I’ve seen the band live in 16 years and as ironic as it sounds, it was in Philadelphia on the 10th Anniversary to the day of the release of Burn My Eyes. Fans inside and out were all talking about this show would be Machine Head’s first show in this building in 13 years, but no one could put their finger on exactly why. It had always been some kind of local metal myth why they were banned but regardless of the cause or reason, we were all about to make up for lost time.
While Ozzy Osbourne’s “Diary of A Madman” plays throughout the building, it is barely audible over the crowds chants of “MACHINE FUCKING HEAD!!!”. As the song winds down, bassist Jared MacEachern and singer Robb Flynn are seen walking behind the wall of amps and it sends the fans into a frenzy of applause and cheers. Soon, the lights go out and the moment this city has been waiting 13 years for has finally arrived and who better to address the crowd but the Flying V toting frontman himself.
As Robb Flynn stands at the mic taking in the crowds reaction for the first time in 13 years his first words are “Orlando, get your fists in the FUCKING AIR!”. And just like that, “Imperium” ignites a circle pit that stretches almost the entire floor like a vortex of arms and fists. Jared MacEachern held down his side of the stage with back up vocals and whirlwind hair whips all while looking very reminiscent like an early 90’s James Hetfield. Matt Alston is the newest member to occupy the thrown behind the kit. Alston dished up chest pounding triplets, lightning fast fills and amazing rhythmic ferocity.
After the virtuoso tag team during the bands hit song “Aesthetics of Hate”, lead guitarist Wacław Kiełtyka put on an incredible guitar solo and paid his respects to Dimebag Darrell finishing the solo with the ending portion of the iconic Pantera jam “Floods”. Afterwards, Robb Flynn reflects on the time away from House of Blues and finally answers the burning question… why they were banned. As Flynn puts it “Disney felt our fans were less than desired and because of our lyrical content on The Blackening, so we were banned.” Luckily for everyone, there had been a change in management at Disney and the ban was lifted. On behalf of all Machine Heads fans…. THANK YOU!
The first set was jammed packed with heavy breakdowns, crowd vocals and enough solos to melt your face off. So to cap off an incredible first half of the show, Machine Head not only ends it with one of their biggest songs in “Halo”, but they surprised the fans with exploding confetti from the stage. With excitement at a high and cheers through the roof, Flynn reminds the fans that the Burn My Eyes set is coming up after a quick 10 minute break. Now everyone can catch their breath and regroup to give everything they have left to the original lineup in honor of the original album.
While the tape of “Real Eyes, Realize, Real Lies” play out, the four men who gave us this titan of an album step on stage to an absolute roar of appreciation. It’s not long after everyone settles in that they break into the song that kicked off not only the album, but their voyage to becoming metal gods with “Davidian”. This track is just as raw and powerful as it was 25 years ago, but to experience it live and be able to see and feel all the emotion and intensity from not only the band but the crowd was incredible. No point during the show was it more evident than when the fans delivered one of the most memorable lines in metal, “LET FREEDOM RING WITH A SHOT GUN BLAST!”
During the first set, the band pulled out an amazing cover of the mighty Iron Maiden’s “Hallow Be Thy Name” and I thought that nothing could top that. But as special as this show was, it was only going to get better as the band put together one of the best medley of songs I’ve ever heard. Kicking it off was Metallica’s “Welcome Home Sanitarium” and then into one of my favorite Alice In Chains songs which I’ve never seen covered was “Angry Chair”. Machine Head wasn’t done just yet by bouncing back to Metallica’s classic “Seek & Destroy” and sliding right into Rage Against The Machines heavy hitting anthem “Bulls On Parade”.
There’s always that one guy that yells “SLAYER!!!” at every show, even if it’s not metal. Well Machine Head didn’t even give “that guy” a chance by unleashing back to back Slayer songs which included the head banging staple “South of Heaven” and to put the exclamation point on the extraordinary cover segment of the show, the band ripped into a rager version of the almighty “Reign In Blood”, sending the crowd into absolute mayhem. After the dust settles from six song assault, Machine Head rounds out their two set marathon run with the closing track “Block” to an incredible ovation from the fans.
After both lineups take a photo from the stage with the crowd, Machine Head wanted to give more to those in attendance by throwing out literally handfuls of guitar picks which had the state seal of the state as well as the tour logo. As everyone was searching the floor for picks, drummers Chris Kontos and Matt Alston were tossing out not only drum sticks, but autographed drum heads like frisbee’s around the upper balcony. Even after giving 150% for two sets totaling 25 songs, Machine Head still showed they are all about the fans by going that extra mile to display their appreciation.
This was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time and there wasn’t a single disappointed person leaving that building as I’m sure it will be the same through this tour. To have a split set like this with a past and present lineup is ingenious. That was a huge draw to this tour and let’s not forget that we were also getting to hear one of the most influential metal albums of all time played in it’s entirety. The Burn My Eyes 25th Anniversary carries on through February to make sure you get to a show near you as well signing up for the VIP meet and greets! For merch, music and additional tour info and media content head over to Machine Head’s website at https://www.machinehead1.com/