Machine Head are one of the most successful modern metal bands who are from Oakland, California. They were first formed in 1991 by vocalist/guitarist Robb Flynn and bassist Adam Duce. Their sound has been a massive influence on many of the current metal bands of today. Flynn is the only constant and original member still in the band today.
Their 1994 debut Burn My Eyes is considered to be a classic of the grove metal era. They faced something of a decline as the nineties went on, and 2001’s Supercharger received particular criticism for its nu metal direction. The single of it “Crashing Around You” received controversy in the wake of 9/11 due to its video featuring images of crashing buildings. This nearly ended the band after their label Roadrunner Records terminated their contract after a result of the controversy. However, they would resign with the label a couple of years later.
Machine Head enjoyed a resurgence in the early 2000’s, first with 2003’s Through the Ashes of Empires and then with 2007’s The Blackening which was highly acclaimed due to its complex song structures and progressive elements. Despite the rather frequent line-up changes and internal problems within the band, they have continued to enjoy acclaim and success.
# 10 – The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears
This first track is taken from 1999’s The Burning Red which is often considered to be one of the band’s lesser albums due to it being part of Machine Head’s “nu metal” era. However, this criticism is unfair, as it is a good album that only really has occasional elements of rap metal on it. This track of it is an absolute stomper, lyrically being about hard work and their determination to succeed as a band.
# 9 – I Am Hell (Sonata in C#)
This track is the opener of 2011’s Unto the Locust. It is among the more experimental material that the band have produced, starting off with a softly sung intro before it explodes into a more conventional Machine Head song that also has elements of progressive metal bands such as Messhugah and Gojira. All in all, a very bold opener for an album and one that shows that Machine Head were not shy about establishing the new direction that they were going in.
# 8 – I’m Your God Now
This track is from Burn My Eyes and is one of the album’s standout tracks. The lyrics deal with the subject matter of drug addiction. It is one of Robb Flynn’s deeper and personal lyrical tracks that see’s him deal with the problems of the addictions that he has experienced. Many of Flynn’s lyrics deal with the problems that he faced growing up and with this track he has that brilliant ability to make the listener relate, whether they have experienced it themselves or not.
# 7 – Game Over
This song is taken from 2014’s Bloodstone and Diamonds which was the first ever album not to feature Adam Duce on bass. Up until that point, Duce was the only original member of the band besides Flynn. With the addition of new bassist Jared McEachren, the band now had a refreshed energy to their sound. The song has the classic aggressive style that has always been a part of Machine Head’s sound and at the same time is rather catchy.
# 6- Davidian
Here is a song that for some may come as a surprise to find this low on the list as it is one of their signature tracks from the first album. This song’s lyrics address the Waco Siege of 1993, namely the group known as the Branch Davidians who were led by cult leader David Koresh. As the album’s opening track, it certainly gets it off to an explosive start as it is truly one of the greatest metal anthems of its era. A particular highlight is when Flynn shouts the line “Let Freedom Ring with a Shotgun Blast!”
# 5 – Halo
This track was the third singe to be taken from 2007’s The Blackening. At nine minutes long, it is notable as being the only song on the album to be written by all four band members. It is about organised religion and the problems that it causes in society. However, the true quality of the song lies in the music itself. Here the band are embracing their progressive tendencies, as in between the heavy and aggressive parts, there are some mellow moments which show a different side to the band.
# 4 – Ten Ton Hammer
This song is the opening track of the band’s second album released in 1997 titled The More Things Change. This album marked both the debut of Dave McClain on drums and the last appearance of guitarist Logan Mader. Like its predecessor, it was successful for an underground metal album, reaching number 138 on the U.S. Billboard Album Charts. This track is generally in the same kind of vein as the material from Burn My Eyes, however some musical progression is shown, as the chorus see’s Flynn incorporating some vocal melodies somewhat reminiscent of Layne Staley from Alice In Chains.
# 3 – Aesthetics of Hate
This was the lead single to be taken from The Blackening. The song’s lyrics are an angry response to a disgusting and disrespectful article written by a conservative writer called William Grimm. The article in question was about the late Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell who was infamously murdered on stage. The article included such comments as that Dimebag was “an ignorant, barbaric, untalented possessor of a guitar”. The song was nominated for Best Metal Performance at the 50th Grammy Awards.
# 2 – Imperium
When the band released Through the Ashes of Empires in 2003 , it was quite rightly considered a welcome return to form after the generally not so well received nu metal direction of the previous two albums. This track is a prime example of that, as it goes back to the sound of the first two albums whilst putting an updated spin on it. The album marked the debut of Phil Demell who had played with Flynn in the Bay Area Thrash band Vio-lence.
# 1 – Old
At the number one spot on the only single to be taken from Burn My Eyes. To this day, this track is a fan favourite of the band’s live sets. Despite its title, it has stood the test of time, as its energetic sound and angry socio-political lyrics make it still sound relevant today. Like much of the album, it was inspired by much of what was going on at the time as exemplified by the opening line “1994, Corruption, Racism, Hate…”