In my search to understand what people mean when they say while referring to a type of music as “metal”, I had to go on a quest to find out what, or who, could represent the zenith of American metal. We can look at long time standards in the arena of metal, such as Metallica and Anthrax, but instead let’s take this chance to look at a band that has been overlooked somewhat in its career, but has been bringing the heaviness since 1992. I’m talking about Machine Head.
Founded by singer and guitarist Robb Flynn and bassist Adam Duce, Machine Head has been producing critically successful records amidst band dismemberments and label detachment. Machine Head's sixth studio album, titled The Blackening, was released in March of 2007 and has been hailed as a masterpiece ever since. It entered the Billboard 200 at number 53, the highest charting position for the band in its career. The album received positive reviews from music critics, with some labeling it the best metal album of 2007. Critics have likened the new album to the 1986 Metallica album Master of Puppets.
We talked to Rob Flynn to find out how its been riding the success of his new record and what lies ahead for this true American Heavy Metal band.
I’ve been listening to The Blackening a lot lately, especially the opening track “Clenching the Fists of Dissent”, and it seems to have a major political theme, how has the reaction been from the fans?
It definitely seems to be the favorite track from the album. Also, musically it’s the most diverse track on there. It has thrash parts and swell parts, and is really just a rollercoaster of a song being 10 minutes long. As far as the lyrics and the content go, I had no specific idea in mind, I tried to write it to be timeless, but it is very inspired by the time we are in now.
It has gotten a great reaction from fans though, and an extremely harsh reaction from conservative America. We were actually banned from playing on Disney property, having our show canceled two days before our show because apparently someone had read the lyrics and decided they didn’t want us playing there.
Do you think we can make a difference with music like this?
We aren’t trying to be politicians, we are just artists speaking our minds. But if we fuel people to want to change things, so be it, but we aren’t trying to have a political rally.
“Aesthetics of Hate” is a pretty brutal track, is that directed toward anyone in particular?
Yeah. Six days after Dimebag Darrel was murdered an online conservative magazine called “The Iconoclast” and the article was called “the Aesthetics of Hate: Goodbye Dimebag, and Good Riddance”. The article was just an opinion piece that went on to say that he was a no-talent, and by playing heavy metal he reaped what he sewed. Reading these things six days after a friend’s death was just infuriating, and this song was written about that time. It was just a release of a big burst of anger.
The Blackening is just that, a big burst of anger. It is a brutal assault on your eardrums, but in a good way. Machine Head has been a player in American heavy metal, whether they’ve gotten the press or not. Expect to see them on tour ripping and shredding, and whatever else you can do with guitar set to 11.