Machine Head Credit: Courtesy the Artist

The groovy, pummeling riff metal of the early 90s owes a lot to Oakland’s Machine Head. The band made their album debut on Roadrunner in 1994 with Burn My Eyes, just a couple years after Pantera codified the style for mainstream consumption with Vulgar Display of Power. Machine Head cranked out chunky, high-gain riffs over seemingly endless jackhammer-style double kick drum, and piled on the pinch harmonics and aggressive vocals. The formula was catchy and bouncy, riding on pure anger and caveman-level intellect, and a long list of bands have aped it since. It also proved undeniable to the metal-loving hordes: Burn My Eyes became Roadrunner’s best-selling album, a title it held till Slipknot emerged with their self-titled album in 1999. That same year, like so many great heavy bands of their generation, Machine Head went full-on nu-metal, complete with mindless riffs and rapped vocals, a style they pushed even further with 2001’s Supercharger. Every Machine Head album since then has been an attempt at a “return to form,” with varying results. Their most recent full-length, 2018’s Catharsis, falls into weird melodic mall-core territory, which bums me out—and apparently I’m not the only one. Two longtime Machine Head members, guitarist Phil Demmel and drummer Dave McClain, bailed on the band within a year of its release, and have since been replaced by veterans of Decapitated and Devilment. (Front man Robb Flynn is the only remaining original member.) It’ll be interesting to see where the band goes from here, but let’s hope they finally get back to the sturdy smashers of Burn My Eyes.   v