Released: 2012, Roadrunner Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Cries of ‘Machine F**king Head’ ‘Machine F**king Head’ ‘Machine F**king Head’ seems an appropriate way to usher in an album called - Machine F**king Head Live. Even in the opening minute you can feel the expectation building and pressing as the band take to the stage with the gargantuan ‘I Am Hell (Sonata In C#).
This is not just one stage though, or one crowd even - Machine F**king Head Live collects together the best of the band’s recent performances across the globe. Although none of it was recorded at Disneyland obviously as Mickey Mouse seems to have a problem with the ‘Head. Although Machine Head have previously released a live album, Hellalive, Machine F**king Head Live seems an appropriate way to mark the band’s approaching-20-years career, and more markedly the ever-increasing success of their last three albums - Through The Ashes Of Empires, The Blackening, and Unto The Locust.
Unsurprisingly then the songs on Machine F**king Head Live tend to come from this trio - particularly newbie Unto The Locust which is played almost in its entirety - but every album in Machine Head’s back catalogue is represented here in at least one song. As such, it’s a fabulous snapshot of the making of the band, and unashamedly, a re-tracing through the best parts of that journey.
The very best live albums transport you into that gig environment - the sweat, the adrenaline, the head-won’t-stop-banging joy. As ‘Imperium’ tears out of the blocks, I was reminded of that scene in Jumanji where the animals stampede through the library wall - that’s what I felt was going to happen to my speakers but with hordes of rabid Machine Head fans. You can see the masses undulating to ‘Old’ just as you can see the arms in the air for the chorus of ‘Locust’. It’s hard to cherrypick through songs of this quality but ‘This Is The End’ already feels like a much older stalwart and ‘Aesthetics Of Hate’ practically spits in your eye.
The second disc is ushered in by the stunning ‘Darkness Within’ and its simple encapsulation of just what music can mean, which certainly seems to have struck a chord as the crowd’s voice never falters in repeating the words. It’s then just left to epic ‘Halo’, which is just a little too vocally quiet in places, and the inimitable neck-destroyer ‘Davidian’ to bring Machine F**king Head Live to its only logical conclusion. At least one that wouldn’t result in a bloodbath.
There’s a lot of lamenting of a lack of a live DVD to accompany the album, but I guess that would have been one difficulty too far considering this is an amalgamation of different dates rather than one single night. That’s really my only major bugbear with Machine F**king Head Live, in that for perfect immersion a single date recording would have been the absolute icing. That said a very good job has been done of putting this together in an order that flows seamlessly, and without impacting on the enjoyable banter between Robb Flynn and fans. It also means that the audio quality is generally of the very best possible balance - the crowd are there but not overpowering, the vocals aren’t lost under the instruments, and the music is not softened in the slightest.
If you’re not a fan of live albums you may be tempted to give Machine F**king Head Live a miss, but if you at all love the experience of watching a band live this will only cement that love further. And probably make you bounce around the lounge/office/bus like a knob.
In the words of Robb: “HEADBANG MOTHERFUCKER”.
Review by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs