I think I’m going to break up with Robb Flynn. It just isn’t working out, and I’m heartbroken about it. Robb is the lead singer, guitarist, and chief songwriter for the band Machine Head. I love Machine Head. Well, I did, but I think we’re growing apart.
It was a perfect relationship. We “met” after Machine Head’s dark period when they released albums including The Burning Red and Supercharger, which included rapping, questionable hairstyles, and accusations of selling out. Thankfully, I didn’t know Robb then. I first heard Machine Head when I saw a live performance video of the song “Imperium” on MTV, and it blew my mind. I bought the album Through Ashes of Empires and was enthralled with the heaviness of the music. Studying the liner notes, I discovered Robb was the leader of the band along with guitarist was Phil Demmel, both former guitar players for Vio-lence, the unnecessarily hyphenated band that added a progressive hint to Bay Area thrash. I was a big fan of Vio-lence – the band, not the behavior – and was thrilled to find these two thrash guitar masters still making intense music. It was like meeting a campus crush twelve years after college and finally getting to go out on a date. Things got serious with Machine Head’s next release, The Blackening. It was widely regarded as a new classic metal album, and I was falling deeper for Robb and company. When the next album – Unto the Locust – came out in 2011, we had been together for almost five years. Robb and, more specifically, his music were there for me when I was angry, when I needed inspiration, and when I just wanted to bang my head.
I waited a long time to see Machine Head live. I desperately wanted to see the band in person and mosh to their brand of metal, but it didn’t work out for years. We just kept missing each other until, in 2012, they were scheduled to perform in Seattle. I had my ticket in hand when I read online that Robb needed surgery for an inguinal hernia and canceled a week of the tour; the Seattle week. Dammit! But how could I stay mad at Robb. He had to get the surgery (which I confirmed with my urologist friend, just to be sure Robb wasn’t lying to me), so I could wait until they rescheduled. But they never did. I had to wait for the next album/tour cycle.
In September, Machine Head were getting ready to release their new record, Bloodstone and Diamonds, and I couldn’t have been more excited. To make it even better, they scheduled a tour with another band that I love. I bought a ticket online as soon as it was available. This was going to be a special night. Then Robb canceled the tour because the album wasn’t ready. What does that even mean, Robb?
The other band – Children of Bodom from Finland – posted on social media that it wasn’t their idea to cancel. Robb fired back by slagging the Finns. He didn’t need to criticize them like that. You embarrassed me, Robb. Those guys are my friends; I’ve seen them perform live and they were fantastic. Not cool.
The new Machine Head album came out last week. I listened with anticipation, but it didn’t move me. The magic is gone. Sure, there are a few moments that get me excited, but it’s like memories of a better time. There is some awful stuff, too. Just plain terrible. You’ve changed Robb. By the way, why are you so angry with Adam, the former bass player, who you eviscerate in the song “Game Over”? I didn’t know you could be so mean.
Robb says Machine Head is going on tour by themselves; no opening bands. That’s unusual these days, but given the tongue-lashing Robb gave to Children of Bodom, it’s not entirely surprising. Who would want to tour with such a potentially vindictive front man? A solo tour means they will play for two hours, diving deep into their catalog. It’s tempting, and it might help recapture some of the magic that we had. I might give him one last chance, but I don’t want my heart broken again. I don’t know what to do.
If I do decide to see Machine Head fronted by Robb, I hope he doesn’t find out that I’ve been seeing other bands. Just last night, I saw Sanctuary play at a CD release party for their new record, The Year the Sun Died. It was 24 years ago when I want to the CD release party for their previous record, Into the Mirror Black. Lead singer Warrel Dane can still shriek and soar like Rob Halford. He’s amazing, and he never hurt me the way Robb has. I’m so confused.
Check out Sanctuary’s latest, Frozen, for a taste of delicious thrash from a band that never broke my heart.