Machine Head

support Bring Me The Horizon + DevilDriver + Darkest Hour
author AP date 08/11/11 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

Due to the recent destruction of KB Hallen in a fire, many big name shows had to be moved to alternative venues around Copenhagen. Among them was the "Eighth Plague Tour" featuring Machine Head, somewhat inexplicably Bring Me the Horizon, DevilDriver and Darkest Hour, which was relocated to the much smaller Amager Bio with the result that within days of this announcement, the show became completely sold out, leaving many a fan disappointed I'm sure. But even if you didn't manage to secure a ticket, you have at the very least this account of the evening as consolation (or potentially reason for bitterness).

Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour face the difficult task of initiating the crowd for the deluge of heavy metal to come, but thankfully this is not a band that surrenders to obstacles. As a result, the band probably walks off stage with at least a handful of new fans, such is the professionalism of their performance tonight. Not only have they been blessed with the best sound mix of the evening, allowing them to unleash the full extent of their blazing dual leads, irresistible staccato riffs and infectious hooks immaculately, whilst sounding fiendishly heavy at the same time. It is as though Darkest Hour have perfected the levels necessary for a convincing live rendition of their material, the remorseless double pedal pummeling and bass lines sending tremors through the floor without compromising the audibility of the vocals and melodies.

Despite the short set length that follows an early support slot, Darkest Hour have composed a fantastic setlist for all intents and purposes, featuring content from four of their five critically acclaimed albums. Although I would have liked to hear "Convalescence" and "Deliver Us" in it, the chosen songs more or less represent the best picks from their respective albums, with the catchy chorus and sheer size of "The World Engulfed in Flames" and the fantastic staccato riff at the core of "Your Everyday Disaster" proving the live potential of latest album "The Human Romance", while "The Sadist Nation" offers a glimpse into the dark, thrashy roots of the band in "Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation" and "Sound the Surrender" and "With a Thousand Words to Say But One" cement with formidable precision the status of "Undoing Ruin" as one of the best melodic death metal albums of the past decade.

The performance concludes, expectedly, with "Doomsayer (The Beginning of the End)" seven minutes short of their allocated stage time, which does leave me wondering if the gap could not have been filled with one or two additional songs, especially as material from "The Eternal Return" is nowhere to be seen. In this context "The Tides" and "Convalescence" would have been excellent choices. But even so, there is hardly anything to put a finger on when it comes to the performance: the band is a constant, relentless bundle of energy and each song is met with considerable applause from the frankly puritanical metalist following of Machine Head. Against all odds, Darkest Hour pull off an excellent, if short set that leaves me thirsty for more.

DevilDriver

DevilDriver are unfortunately not blessed with as complimentary a mix, leaving most of the band's brilliant malevolent melodies to drown beneath the rumble of drums, bass and Dez Fafara's growling. In terms of performance and response, however, it is obvious that DevilDriver are in a league of their own tonight, having gathered a huge crowd and garnering an enraptured reaction from it. The band's return to Denmark has been long-awaited since the cancelation of their performance at Copenhell in 2010, so the welcome is expectedly warm and few people seem to even notice the significant sound problems. In a set that measures some 35 minutes, DevilDriver take us through a selection of songs from both old and recent albums, but alas, especially the picks from this year's "Beast", which thrive on unsettling lead guitar work, are hard to appreciate in full given the muddy sound.

When it comes to the performance itself, however, DevilDriver step things up with a demeanor that is best described as quintessentially metal. There is violent headbanging, synchronized windmilling and tons of heavy metal attitude to accompany songs like "Pray for Villains", "You Make Me Sick" and "Before the Hangman's Noose", and plenty of large scale moshing and circle pits showing an appreciation for this on the crowd side. For someone not particularly seasoned with DevilDriver's repertoire, it is slightly more difficult to get into it, but even so the sheer power resonating from the stage is undeniable. It is easy to see why this band has been in such high demand in Denmark, and they certainly provide value for money.

Bring Me The Horizon

Someone must have had a brain haemorrhage to think up the idea that Bring Me the Horizon would be a suitable band to handle main support duties for Machine Head. The band sticks out like a sore thumb, both musically and in terms of appearance. What rescues this show from total disaster is the fact that a decent portion of attendees, many of them extremely young, are actually here purely for the sake of watching Bring Me the Horizon and squealing uncontrollably at the sight of Oli Sykes and co. The remainder of the audience is far more held back, standing behind the moshpit with their arms folded and a skeptical expression on their faces, including myself. I have been known to appreciate this band from time to time due to their explosive live shows and the quality of at least some of their material, but in the context of tonight's line-up the whole thing looks and feels like a bit of a farce.

True Bring Me the Horizon are as extreme as ever tonight and armed with a setlist leaning towards their heaviest produce, with "Diamonds Aren't Forever" and "Alligator Blood" tasked with setting things off. But because of what I am almost certain is the anxiety of knowing what large percentage of the crowd must genuinely despise them, the band never reach their A-game tonight. Although the band looks to be giving it all they've got, the set is plagued by poor sound and messy transitions between songs, not to mention Sykes running out of breath during some of his most vital growling parts. One girl probably has the night of her life being invited on stage to share vocal duties with him on "Football Season is Over", but the rest of us are certainly not enthused. Bring Me the Horizon simply does not belong in a metal oriented line-up such as this.

6

Machine Head

With 1,100 metalheads packing the venue, it was never a possibility that Machine Head were not going to slay tonight. Indeed, what we are given in return for the nearly 400 DKK that this show cost is a demonstration of unbridled, unlimited, uncompromising power; a lesson in heavy metal. Despite the fact that the sound levels could have been adjusted better, Machine Head sound absolutely monumental and look like they mean business. The band is in immaculate shape, delivering one punishing metal anthem after the other to a raging crowd, not pausing even once between "I am Hell (Sonata in C#)", "Be Still and Know" and "Imperium". Expectedly the setlist features most of the band's latest masterpiece "Unto the Locust" interspersed with outtakes from the six preceding albums in equal measure, and if you were concerned or just wondering about the live potential of songs like "Locust", "This is the End" and "Darkness Within", it is with great pleasure that I can report these songs as a huge success, not yet on par with "The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears", "Halo" or "Davidian", but certainly coming close.

The sing-songs that erupt during virtually every song are the stuff of legend, transforming the sold out venue into a single undulating mass of euphoric metalheads. We came here to headbang and scream our lungs out, and this Machine Head deliver with formidable prowess. The sound quality is, as mentioned, not optimal, but probably much better than it would have been within the aging concrete walls of KB Hallen were it still standing. And where the sound might falter and the occasional vocal problems reduce the impact of a number of choruses, Rob Flynn and his crew compensate with intimacy seldom seen from bands of equivalent status, coming across as true blue collar men with stunts like slings-shotting cups of vodka at the audience and expressing condolences about the fate suffered by KB Hallen. By the time "Bulldozer" and "Ten Ton Hammer" bring the regular set to a crushing finale before the predictable encore comprising "Halo" and "Davidian", there seems to be a universal consensus this unstoppable machine is without a doubt one of the most important metal bands of our generation.

Setlist:

  • 01. I am Hell (Sonata in C#)
  • 02. Be Still and Know
  • 03. Imperium
  • 04. Beautiful Mourning
  • 05. The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears
  • 06. Locust
  • 07. This is the End
  • 08. Aesthetics of Hate
  • 09. Old
  • 10. Darkness Within
  • 11. Bulldozer
  • 12. Ten Ton Hammer

--Encore--

  • 13. Halo
  • 14. Davidian

All photos courtesy of Kasper Fladmose

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