Blood, Sex and Headbanging - Dethklok and Machine Head Battles Oakland
Last monday evening I made the trek out to the Fox Theater in Oakland CA to check out Machine Head and Dethklok. They were playing with Black Dahlia Murder who I missed completely (It was an early show and I mis-judged the drivetime out to Oaktown), and All That Remains who I caught the tail end of. The last time I saw ATR they were having a dispute with one of the members and the show was canceled. I have heard good things about the new album, and judging from the reaction in the crowd, they didn't dissapoint.
One thing I have to mention is that this was my first experience at The Fox Theater and I couldn't tell whether the sound system was always this bad, or if the mixing was just off that night. With that said, there seemed to be a definite lack of high frequencies during the night of thundering drums and guttural screams. One might be OK with a heavy bass, no trebble sound, but personaly I felt cheated. It was if someone came in and stole all of the Wail" away from the wailing guitars.
Despite the precieved audio problems, the crowd was on a high (and most of them probably were high) as they waited eagerly for Machine Head. Near the front of the stage barrier someone started chanting Machine Fu*!ng Head! over and over again, which quickly gained stream. One of the security guards turned to me and said "Apparently, they are waiting for Machine Fu@*ing Head." Eventually the lights went low, and the band walked on stage and started playing "This is The End" from thier most recent "Unto The Locust" Album. A combination of Red Blue and Green lights bathed the stage as furious drums matched speed with blistering guitars and the band slipped into "Imperium." Some of the highlights of the show came during the performance of the fan favorite "Aesthetics of Hate" from quite possibly Machine Head's greatest albums to date "The Blackening." Starting off slow with an ever progressing guitar riff followed by the repeated pounding of drums. Acting as a catalyst for an already unruly crowd, the machine gun like precicson of musicality sent legions of fans over the barrier, and into the waiting and ever so capable arms of venue security. During the end of the set, frontman Robb Flynn, quited the crowd down and took time to have a moment of silence for close friend Mitch Lucker of Suicide Silence who recently passed away.
Another side note (according to the random guy in the crowd I happend to talk to, who's neighbor was one of the sound techs for Machine Head) that may or may not be credible. Machine Head as a band have never seen an episode of Metalocalypse - (The cartoon on Adult Swim that the band Dethklok is from) Which is why Brendon Small took them on the tour. They decided to bring them along and force them to watch every episode. Now I find it a little hard to believe that a true metal fan has never seen Metalocalypse, but if this is true its pretty hillarious to think about Brendon Small sitting down with the members of MH and forcing them to watch his show.
One of the aspects of the show is that the band Dethklok lives in a secluded part of the world and has legions of highly trained minions called "Klokateers" These drones do everything from personal protection, to maid service and everything in between, and are always dressed in black hoods. Now if you have never seen Metalocalypse, you will not understand the true genius of the show, but basically in a nutshell it is about the most "Brutal" and biggest band on the planet, and is a great satire on metal bands and fans that are preceived to be way too serious. If you are a fan of insane metal music, absurd humor and hilarious commentary on the music industry, I highly recommend you checking out the show.
Ok back to the actual show, Once Machine Head cleared the stage, it was time for Dethklok to play. Staying true to the mystery and absurdity of the cartoon show, The stage techs setting up the Mics and chekcing sound levels were dressed as Klokateers. Once Brendon Small and the rest of the band took the stage they were overshadowed by the giant TV screen behind them playing extended versions of the cartoon show cut specifically for the live show. With a quick performance of the Metalocalypse theme to get the crowd in gear, Dethklok Live proceeded to inject all the blood, sex, and evil back into the land of metal mania, from which it seemed like it had been without since at least the late 80s. With seasoned speed drummer Gene Holgan in the backfield, and master vocal manipulator Brendon Small leading the growl, Dethklok showcased a combination of hits from the TV show and each of the 3 "Dethalbums." All with extremely graphic cartoon violence and sexual imagery playing on the screen above. True to the comic relief facet of the show, there were short interludes filled with brief storylines, and auxillary characters such as the fan favorite "DR Rockso - The Rock and Roll Clown."
All in all, the show was as brutal both visually and aurally, and had I not already seen both bands 3 times, It would have been worth the 3 hours total drivetime that I needed to endure. However, if you are a fan of blazingly fast guitars and machinegun like drums and you haven't yet experienced Dethklok Live, I would highly recommend checking them out while they finish their run out on the east coast, or next time they cruise through your town.