Rob Flynn, it’s a name you can’t seem to escape in the metal scene as a whole regardless of what style you like, he is everywhere. He has been lucky enough to be relevant and adored worldwide for so long, that it is impossible now for him to attract a fair share of hate. Like a tide comes and goes, there is a constant battle of give and take with Flynn and the public eye, he could write some of the greatest music, win over the hardest crowd, hell, he could even cure every cancer going, and he would still be hated by a collective in some way or another, I guess that is the price of success.
Recent years have seen members depart after more than a decade together, it saw what was the end of machine head, then a hiatus, and more recently a reincarnation, but the wheels keep turning and the timing seems to have worked out perfectly. Currently, in typical Machine Head form, they are touring the Burn My Eyes 25th anniversary, 25 whole years since their debut album, and with the bulk of the original line up no less, courtesy of Logan Mader on guitar and Chris Kontos on drums, with Jared MacEachern pulling double duties on bass.
Saturday night was always going to be something a bit special, and for people like me it was desperately needed with the beating England took in the Rugby World Cup Final that morning, spirits were low, and hangovers were crushing, but finding yourself in Brixton for a solid night of Machine Head is never a bad thing! Walking in as the band begin to take the stage, we find ourselves fighting through the euphoric crowd trying to find those familiar faces we only ever get to see at gigs or festivals to make the most of the night, and there is no messing around when the band takes the stage.
Coming out to Imperium, it’s the perfect way to start just like they did with their live release Elegies, there is little to no messing about, as they duck and dive through the massive back catalog the band has amassed over the last quarter-century. They smash through the classics intermittent with tracks from the more thrashy post-Through the ashes era, first up being 2014’s Now We Die slapped between 1997’s Take My Scars and Struck a Nerve, the tracks being 17 years and worlds apart in style, but sounding perfectly good together, it is at this point they focus on that more thrashy era with tracks from The Blackening and Unto the Locust getting a huge response from everyone, especially the younger parts of the crowd, finishing with chants to Dime and Vinnie with Aesthetics of Hate. Earning somewhat of an interlude, Recent addition Vogg steps up, Decapitated fans know full well what to expect from the man, regularly coming out jamming Pantera when his band takes to the stage, it isn’t too long into his incredibly accurate and impressive playing that we hear some Dime through the solo of Floods. It isn’t too long after that the distortion drops and he hits some clean sounds, playing a bit of Silence from Decapitated’s Carnival Is Forever. It is fitting to hear some Decapitated on a day like today, 12 years ago to the day, Vogg lost his best friend, drummer and most of all, his brother. A sobering thought that really pulled the crowd together.
If Robb is known for anything, it is his ability to talk, and as he strides out with his acoustic slung around his neck, he begins to engage with the crowd, there’s little bitterness or hate in his words, choosing rather to embrace the moment and the head cases filling the academy walls. He speaks about the negative, the battles that everyone goes through in life, the need to keep fighting on in life, he shares a few personal stories he recently had close friends going through and so forth, and for a man that speaks often about the crap he went through in life and the hate he is often filled with, tonight he is full of nothing but love. The talking gets a bit much for some, and as it makes for a good time to head to the bar or a toilet break, some have a little less patience and try to make themselves heard. In fairness, maybe the talking did go on for a bit, but when your band is playing these kinds of songs for as long as they are, that welcomed break is much needed for their blistering hands. It isn’t too much longer before the band returns however as they plow through a further 7 songs in this set, even throwing in The Blackenings bonus track Hallowed Be Thy Name from the almighty Iron Maiden which in true Maiden form, has the Academy crowd at one of its loudest points of the night! Closing off the two-hour set comes the always expected Halo, an absolute masterpiece.
For many it was a surprise to see them play for so long in the first set, fitting in 15 epic songs in one set is monstrous, but to then tell the crowd they’ll only be a ten minute break before the Burn My Eyes set was something else, love or loathe Robb, you cannot once deny his work ethic! How he can pull things like this off night after night is inhuman. The set needs no description, it really is end to end Burn My Eyes, and just like the album title, eyes are soon burnt with the intense heat from all the pyro. The set breathes new life into the crowd, the cheers and intensity match that of the Maiden cover, and it carries from the very start right through, none of this feels 25 years old, let alone the energy from the guys back then, Logan and Chris are on fire! Chris even has himself a drum solo before kicking into The Rage to Overcome! It seems you can have too much of a good thing though, as some absolute knob launches a beer over the sound desk during Death Church cutting it out, the beer is a crazy price as it is, why would you buy one to throw it? I certainly hope that karma finds its way to the responsible party and bites him in the ass, or better, his name becomes known to the venue and the full costs of the damage get billed to them. To salt the wounds further, disrupted train journeys are already having people debating to leave before the incident, so this really killed the end of the show for them, but for those willing to hang about they received a treat, after 20 minutes and some quick thinking from the sound tech, things were re-routed and although not to the same level, the show went on, with the added bonus of all the staff etc of the venue, they were even allowed to continue 30 minutes after the usual, strict curfew, a rarity indeed, and with that came a medley of tracks, including a few thrash legends before the set closes with Block.
In all a near-perfect end to a dreadful day, regardless of the Rugby result, a dick that doesn’t deserve alcohol all gig entry, and maybe a few things from the band (I’d personally have preferred to hear the guitars more, they just seemed a bit too thin and quiet for my liking), Machine Head do not disappoint! It was a damn great night to remember and one I won’t get over anytime soon! If you did miss the show or leave early, Machine Head have brilliantly been streaming the shows live online, and they can be found through their social media accounts so you can catch up on what you missed or relive it all! Of course for us though, none of this would have happened without those behind the scenes for offering us the chance to see them last minute, a huge heartfelt thank you to you and yours, and we hope to see you all at a gig for a beer soon! (Maybe far away from any sound desks mind!)