Machine Head, The Forum Theatre

Machine Head’s latest album Catharsis may have polarized critics, but fans were in full force on Saturday night at Melbourne’s Forum Theatre for the eagerly anticipated return of the heavy metal titans following their 2015 sold out tour.

Lurching through the speakers Ozzy Osbourne’s Diary of a Madman pulled patrons to the barricades before the Vikings from California took to the stage to bludgeon fans with the double-bass drumming and pummelling riffage of Imperium. What followed was a relentless three-hour skull-crushing, bruise-inducing set featuring 26 songs drawn from the band’s 24-year career. Highlights during the initial onslaught included The Blood, the Sweat, the Tears, Now We Die and Phil Demmel’s epic guitar solo, but it was Robb Flynn’s impassioned performance of Darkness Within which signalled the point of no return as the crowd chanted the opening stanzas in unison.

Providing a sure fire way to keep warm on a bitter winter’s night, circle pits erupted throughout the marathon spectacle as the band charged through monstrous hits including Is There Anybody Out There, Locust and Beyond the Pale before Dave McClain broke into a merciless drum solo complete with cowbell. In regards to the stage show itself, Machine Head cleverly designed a lighting sequence to correspond with the colour scheme of each record – a detail reserved for hard-core fans.

Showing no signs of fatigue Machine Head’s third hour on stage was filled with audacious deep cuts, scraps of nu metal and even a cover of Metallica’s Creeping Death, and while Robb may have temporarily forgotten a few lyrics he more than made up for it with his evocative vocal delivery on Game Over. Closing the show with a deafening roar was the nine-minute long crowd-pleaser Halo which left fans with an overarching feeling of pure metal ecstasy.

Victims of their own standards, Machine Head may have divided critics and fans with their latest musical endeavour, but after two and a half decades and nine studio albums, the tenacious quartet continue to prove that they are still one of the best live acts in heavy metal.

By Monique La Terra 

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