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As I am a Machine Head fanboy I will try to be as unbiased as possible. Hellalive is one of the greatest live albums, ever. It confirms that Machine Head is at their best in sold-out stadiums. Although Machine Head was going through their "mallcore-stage" of their career, with Ahrue Luster on guitar and the creation of nu-metal-esque CDs: The Burning Red and Supercharger, they surprisingly and effectively make a fantastic album. Also, during the early 00's Machine Head was getting a large amount of criticism because of their earlier releases. Now to the album itself.
Hellalive was recorded at Brixton Academy, London on December 8, 2001. The sound and production of the live release is phenomenal. What I sometimes hear is not enough of the sound/response of the crowd. Or the other way around. However, with this release Machine Head were able to come up with the perfect volume for the crowd. This creates a Flynn-Crowd yell and response thing going on. I find this to be the best part about the album. I love everything about it. Through this the listener is able to feel as if they are there at Brixton Academy. Overall, the production greats a fantastic atmosphere.
The set-list chosen for is album is great. It has a lot of tracks from their early days. This includes Old, None But My Own and I'm Your God Now. These are great additions to the set. The songs from Machine Head's "mallcore stage", that are on the set, are only "the cream of the crop." These include The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears, American High, and Bulldozer. These are hugely improved while performed live. However, the inclusion of Supercharger, Crashing Around You and Nothing Left are incredibly dumb. Especially finishing off their live-set with Supercharger. Most Machine Head shows are finished with the incredible Davidian. Instead, on this night they finish it off with the crappy Supercharger. After Davidian the listener is left very satisfied, but with the inclusion of Supercharger the listener is left on a sour note. Then there is the song Crashing Around You. It is nor bad or good. However, on Hellalive I feel forced to say that is bad. Not because the performance is mediocre. Honestly, I think it is a vastly improved version of the song. To be able to listen to this sub-par song you have to sit through a very annoying Robb Flynn rant that is approximately 2 minutes and 20 seconds!
Hellalive is an aggressive, fast and intense album! It is a fantastic achievement for Machine Head, since they were "in a rut" at the time. They are able to persevere through the tough times and make an incredibly unique and good live album. Hellalive, also, shows Machine Head's passion towards music. For example, Flynn's very intense and loud calls to the crowd. Robb Flynn's great ability to fully interact with the crowd is shown with this CD, as well. Overall, any groove metal fan, thrash metal fan, Machine Head fan, live CD connoisseur or someone just looking for one aggressive CD should look no further then Machine Head's Hellalive. It is HELL, in a good way, at Brixton Academy when Machine Head is around!
Best Tracks: Bulldozer, Ten Ton Hammer, Old, Take My Scars
In the end, the MH baiting just gets fucking boring. Since 1995, a ridiculous amount of metalheads have hounded and heckled this band unceasingly, as though endless whiny bitching is the way to ensure that another album like ‘Burn My Eyes’ comes out. What can really get on the nerves is the fact that if they did release something in that vein, people would moan about the repetition of the formula Well, stick this in your fucking pipes and suck on it – ‘Burn My Eyes’ has gone. Cherish at as the classic it is and leave it at that.
Now, not for a second am I suggesting that the sun shines out the arse of much of Machine Head’s post ‘Burn…’ material, but then to disregard it all simply because it does not reach those lofty standards is a bit of a daft attitude to take. And nowhere can this point be more solidly proven than on the ‘Head’s first live recording, ‘Hellalive.’
Opening to the roars of the crowd and the strains of the infamous Omen film soundtrack, the band waste absolutely no fucking time. Crashing into ‘Bulldozer’ with a thunderous, pile driving drum fill and squealing, shrieking guitar, the ‘Head spend the next 7 songs tearing the Brixton Academy a new arsehole. While the likes of ‘Old’ and ‘I’m Your God Now’ are as viciously anthemic as many have come to expect from them, it’s the material of latter albums that offers a kick ass surprise – tracks such as ‘Crashing Around You’ and ‘The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears’ are granted a lease of new, bastardised life and sound 10 times more heavy than they ever could on record. The former, especially, sounds just like its fucking title is coming true, the meandering half-ballad becoming an epic monster of a song in the live arena.
And therein lies the album’s greatest strength; it’s ability to soundly assure the listening metalhead that a live arena is truly the place Machine Head belong. While Rob Flynn’s (heavy, heavy) guitar does occasionally drop out, he more than makes up for it in his competent attempts to whip the crowd into a frenzy. Dave McClain and Adam Duce prove themselves to be one of the tightest, most pounding rhythm sections of modern times, and even the archetypal mallcore guitarist Ahrue Luster manages to make it through the set without spoiling proceedings.
Of course, the album is far from perfect – much of the set after ‘I’m Your God Now’ sees a considerable drop in quality, and simply plods along with nothing worth mentioning. Except for ‘American High’ of course, which frankly sounds fucking abysmal, and interests tapers off as fast as expectations of a kick-ass ending.
But, astoundingly, Machine Head pull through with fists raised high in the final round. ‘The Burning Red’ is a power ballad like no other – immense in its beauty, pensive and raw rather than soppy and teary, it’s a perfectly prelude to the crashing finale of THAT track, the absolutely mammoth ‘Davidian’. Heavy as all fuck and akin to a sucker punch to the throat, this bastard track should by rights have finished off the crowd rather than ‘Supercharger’, which, while acceptable, simply doesn’t make your brain feel like it’s been crushed into dust like ‘Davidian’ does.
So that’s that: ‘Hellalive.’ Besides some stinking piles of shit here and there, the glowing gems make this an album any ‘Head fanatic can be proud to have amidst there metal collection.
Suck on that, indeed.
I really like Machine Head. I do. Burn My Eyes is brilliant. Revolutionary if you will. The More Things Change is fucken awesome, but a little number down to Burn My Eyes, yet songs like Ten Ton Hammer, Take My Scars and my personal favourite, Spine make it very worth your time.
The Burning Red was a low point. They took on the whole Nu-Metal, Rap-Core and Mallcore sounds, which sucks, and is ironic cause they created the sound that is mallcore on The More Things Change, but you can't label that mallcore cause it's too good for that shit and original. Mallcore's mallcore because it's trendy and heavy. The Burning Red to me is kinda like them hearing other bands stealing their sound and making money off it, so they try and pop themselves up to get the money they deserved in the first place. I hate the whole rap thing and the hip-hop beats, but oh well, it's a decent album anyways, just nothing brilliant.
Supercharger had a couple of decent songs. I even like the extremely nu-metal song Crashing Around You, but as a whole the album has potential but ends up eating dick instead. Not worth the time or money.
So how's about Hellalive? Hellalive is a collaberation of a bunch of the heavier songs from all their albums (apart from, of course, Through The Ashes Of Empires). Even the songs from Burning Red and Supercharger are kinda cool (although American High is kinda stupid, but still passable).
The performance is tight as all hell. They play so well, it makes me grab my pants in excitement. The production is fucken huge too. It sounds just like a normal album, except they added a croud in their or some shit. My only problem with the production is that the guitarist are fucken mallcore as all shit. They've got that whole "we're hella fat" thing that's always muffled to some degree and the trendcore bands use. Still, that's a minor complaint about the production cause the guitars sound huge anyways. Listen to "I'm Your God Now" and when they go into that first heavy riff you just sit there and think, "HOLY FUCK!!! THAT SHIT'S MOTHER FUCKEN HEAVY!!!" The only song that doesn't sound all that great guitar wise is Old, but I'll get to that later.
So why do I label this weak still? Because this was recorded at the time of the Supercharger tour. Meaning that this was recorded at the time of the Nu-Metal Machine Head. Like I said, I like all the songs on this album. Yes, some more than others, but all the same it's a fairly good set list. It's just the rap-core faggotry that's going on through the vocals. Robb saying shit like, "London, come bounce with this" and "Everybody jump! Jump! Jump! Jump!". That shit's just fucken weak!!! What's worse is that he does this shit on the oldschool songs, to try and rap them up.
And what's up with the one guitar on Old? "Hi, my name's Robb Flynn and I've decided that on this awesome song, I'm not gonna play guitar but rather just break dance like a nu-metal faggot. Hope you enjoy". Seriously, it sounds so fucken weak, and though I never saw it, I'm sure it looked fucken weak too. But then again, all the teen-angst fucks that were there simply cause they though Supercharger is the equivelant of a Da Vinci peace probably thought it was awesome.
From This Day sounds really fucken weak. It's not cause the song sucks major ass either (I don't mind it but it's pretty fucken stupid), it's just that it sounds weak live.
The worst thing isn't the gay nu-metal commentry, or the one-guitar Old, or the weak as fuck From This Day. No, no, no. The worst thing is Davidian.
Why Davidian you may ask? Sure it starts off slightly slower than the original recording, which is kind of gay but it doesn't really matter to me, because that's just minor. No, the problem is when they do the ending. The slow that down so fucken much. It's like they were trying to make it heavier or some shit, but it sounds so fucken gay!!! It's about as slow as the ending of Bulldozer, but it doesn't work in the way that Bulldozer does. No, it doesn't work at all. It sucks too, cause I love the ending of Davidian. It's fucken crushing.
Overall, those complaints I made are still somewhat minor. I wouldn't spend full price on the CD (and I didn't, thank fucken god), but I guess it worth the discount.