Show Reviews


  • Axl Rosenberg


Hol-ee crap. One thing was clear at the packed Nokia Theater this past Saturday night, when the Machine Head/Arch Enemy co-headling Black Tyranny trek made its NYC stop: this crowd was here to get their fucking metal on. After “countless” New York gigs over the years, Machine Head frontman Rob Flynn declared that this audience was easily “the craziest.” And anyone in attendance will not doubt this statement: this was just a room full of people ready to explode.

Of course, having such a sweet line-up couldn’t have hurt: before either mighty headliner took the stage, there were sets from both Sanctity (who were already standing by their merch booth signing autographs by the time we arrived) and Throwdown.

What to say about the latter metalcore stalwarts, out to promote their latest offering, the Panterariffic Venom & Tears? These dudes clearly know how to bring it, and their raw energy is undeniable. But after seeing them open for other bands two or three times now, I gotta say, these support slots aren’t doing them justice; although this is clearly a killer tour to be on, their set seemed to go by in a flash – it almost felt like we’d never seen them at all. The band have more than enough material to pick and choose from now for a longer set; it’s clearly time for these dudes to get out there and do a proper headlining run.

Of course, Throwdown were only the start of an awesome evening, and Arch Enemy were next, playing New York for the first time in over a year. But with guitarist Christoper Amott rejoining his bandmates (including brother/mastermind Michael Amott) for the first time since ’05, this truly felt like a group re-born: crystal-clear sound allowed the crowd to hear every excellently shredded note between the dueling axemen, and vocalist Angela Gossow continues to be twice as charismatic as so many of the male counterparts “purists” favor. Playing a set that chose liberally from AE’s Gossow years – including “Dead Eyes See No Future,” “Burning Angel,” “My Apocalypse,” “I Am Legend/Out for Blood,” “Nemsis, and “We Will Rise” – the band had the hungry kids in the pit eating out of their hands the entire time. This being 2007, the tech-savvy fans in attendance (e.g., pretty much everyone) sang along with every word to selections from the band’s forthcoming Rise of the Tyrant, such as “Blood on Your Hands,” and “Revolution Begins.” Gossow chose to ignore this fact, telling everyone “We have a new album out,” as though Tyrant had already been released. No point fighting the future of music, I suppose.

In any case, Arch Enemy’s set was so overwhelmingly powerful that it seemed almost impossible to imagine Machine Head being anywhere near as good – but any such concern was ultimately unfounded. Chants of “MACHINE FUCKING HEAD! MACHINE FUCKING HEAD!” began almost immediately following Arch Enemy’s departure from the stage, and our favorite drunken concert goer of the evening – a shirtless dude with his ass crack on display – started to prowl the floor, yelling at all those who chose to stand at the rear of the venue “YOU PUSSIES!” whilst repeatedly hitting himself in the face. We should have suspected that we were gonna be in for a killer show.

And a killer show it was: even with bassist Adam Duce sidelined with a broken leg, Machine Head blew the fucking roof off the joint. With a setlist consisting exclusively of material from Burn My Eyes, Through the Ashes of Empires, and this year’s instant classic The Blackening – in other words, the good Machine Head albums – Rob Flynn and company blazed through anthems old and new, including “Clenching the Fists of Dissent,” “Halo,” “Imperium,” “Old,” and, of course, traditional show closer “Davidian” (and, really – what’s more fun than screaming “LET FREEDOM RING WITH A SHOTGUN BLAST!” with a couple of thousand of your fellow metalheads?). Guitarist Phil Demmel, drenched in sweat, set his fret board ablaze while he taunted all those in the front row to scream louder, and Flynn could barely get any in-between-song banter in before he was drowned out by the crowd, who chanted for Duce and, of course, Dimebag. Introducing recent single “Aesthetics of Hate” – which he dedicated to Disney, whom, he announced, had labeled the band and its fans “undesirables” before forcing several tour stops to move other venues – Flynn cried out “This song is a big, dumb, neanderthal expression of rage, and it feels fuckin’ great!” And then what just may be the biggest pit the Nokia has ever seen opened up and decimated the room.

Panting and clearly emotional, Flynn didn’t leave the stage before thanking fans again and again for the passionate reception they’d given both headliners. Machine Head and Arch Enemy arrived to a room full of some of the most enthusiastic fans on the planet – enthusiasm they’ve both clearly earned – and they left a venue in virtual ruins. This really might be the best tour of the year. Do not, under ANY fucking circumstances, miss it.


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