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Did Machine Head Steal a Riff from Strapping Young Lad? Robb Flynn and Devin Townsend Respond

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If you’ve been keeping up with the social network brouhaha today (and I can’t blame you if you haven’t), you’ve no doubt seen some cranky metal fans alleging that the main riff from Machine Head’s new single, “Beyond the Pale,” is a rip-off of the riff from Strapping Young Lad’s “Love?”:

Now Devin Townsend and Robb Flynn have both taken to Twitter to discuss the accusations.

Townsend spoke up first, via Twitter:

“People asking me about riff similarities: I don’t have an opinion really. I’ve written riffs my whole career that sound like something else.

“I’ve used whole themes from other albums, movies or soundtracks. Art is a collage of your experiences, you taking clippings and reassemble.

“Heres the best part about comparison of MH new song to ‘Love’ I basically ripped off the SYL chorus from this song:”

This song being “City of Love” (!) by Yes:

Flynn responded in turn, also handling the situation like a mensch:

“Shout out to for being so cool. The Riff Police pulled me over, I got a $300 infraction for that one!! Like Dime bag always used to tell me ‘we’re all just sharing riffs man’.”

Flynn later added:

“Got a lot of respect for you Devin, super talented musician, amazing producer (as the palaces burn production crushes all!)

“And while I would proudly admit that I stole a Riff from you… Was just a happy accident.

“Riff on brother!!”

So, basically, Flynn admits that the riffs are similar, and claims there was nothing knowing or malicious about that similarity. And I tell ya what: I’m inclined to take Flynn at his word. If for no other reason than because that would be a shitty plan. I mean, it’s not like we’re talking Led Zeppelin and Spirit here; it’s more like if Led Zeppelin tried to take credit for a song stolen from The Who. Machine Head and Strapping Young Lad are both very well-known in the metal community, and “Love?” is so famous, people were bound to notice the resemblance. Not exactly a criminal master plan that would make a Bond villain proud.

So hopefully that’s the end of that discussion.

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