Review: ‘Machine Head’ assaults the senses, delights audience

The Rawkus, a Colorado Springs venue.

Image via Jake Tharan

The Rawkus, a Colorado Springs venue.

Jake Tharan, Arapahoe Pinnacle Music Critic

COLORADO SPRINGS – Bay Area heavy metal band Machine Head graced the Springs with their presence over the weekend, and what a presence it was.

The veteran metal masters paid a visit to the Rawkus for a headlining appearance without any opening acts. This is the second North American leg of their tour dubbed “An Evening with Machine Head.”

This is no ordinary evening event – and certainly not a calm evening.

Upon arrival to the venue, a line of anxious head-bangers stretched out the doors, winding through the nearby parking lot.

A show such as this gives the feeling of an actual event as opposed to just another weekend concert. Every person waiting in line has gleefully purchased tickets to see only this band perform a two-and-a-half hour set. Every person arrives with the intent of watching four men command their instruments to create the audio assault that is Machine Head.

For a bit of history: The group has been active since 1992, and has released eight studio albums. Many of those records have been showered with acclaim from fans and critics alike with the metal community.

The group has since garnered an intensely loyal fan base as well as an established seat amongst the ranks of respected heavy metal musicians.

Judging from the size of the audience at this stop, the band still has the ability to fill venue seats as well.

To open the set, the band begins with a live staple and fan favorite: the blistering “Imperium.”

Upon hearing the opening lead riff of the song, the crowd’s cheers grow to screams in wild anticipation for the song to take off. With the accompanying howl of the band’s front man, the audience ascends into frenzy, and chaos effectively ensues.

With the accompanying howl of the band’s front man, the audience ascends into frenzy, and chaos effectively ensues.”

— Jake Tharan

The band dives into many well-known songs from their back catalogue, much to the pleasure of the rabid audience.

Many of the fans present at Machine Head outings know every word and delight in screaming along with the growls of the band’s vocalist until they cannot even utter a word.

Don’t let that turn you off. MH employs a great deal of clean vocals in their groovy, thrash-oriented songs. Many of the band’s best known songs include clearly audible vocals as well as soaring vocal harmonies, which is a mainstay in the band’s song structures.

One of the strongest suits of the band’s live performance is its ability to influence crowd participation to the point of an all-out melee.

Their strong live shows are complemented by violent mosh pits complete with bodies tumbling into one another and limbs flailing about through the air.

Fear not, dear reader. Most of the limbs of the attendees are retained throughout the performance. Most of them.

The Rawkus is an exceptionally suitable venue for this type of show as well. The standing-room venue allows for the high-energy crowd to bulldoze into one another while the rest of the crowd comfortably stands back in observation.

Like many intimate venues in Denver, this Colorado Springs location offers a great view from any position in the building. Rest assured that one’s ears will be bludgeoned with the crunch of down-tuned guitars and rumbling bass and percussion, though for any show at this venue, the sound system is truly superb.

The band tears through classics such as “Beautiful Mourning,” “Ten Ton Hammer” and “Davidian.”

It closes with the nine-minute opus, “Halo,” which is encapsulates all of the band’s musical prowess and technical proficiency. A sore neck and aching body will be just a few of the glorious side-effects one will have obtained post-show.