Book Review: Machine Head: Inside The Machine

Machine Head: Inside the Machine
By Joel McIver
Omnibus Press
Release Date: April 1, 2013 (U.S. | Kindle Edition)
Available now (UK)

It’s easy to forget Machine Head has been going for over 20 years. The past five years has seen them hit a creative boon with their two finest albums one after the other: Metallica-approved The Blackening and last year’s astonishing Unto The Locust. Many of their contemporaries burst on to the scene in the 1980s then struggled to maintain what they started with. Ten years down the line many of those same acts failed to recapture that early magic and fell into the great metal chasm. Whereas Machine Head only improved with age.

British author Joel McIver has written books about almost every metal icon: from Slipknot to Slayer, Motorhead to Tool, with Metallica and Black Sabbath to boot. His latest work, Machine Head: Inside the Machine, is an interesting, honest and completely open account of the life of Machine Head.

There are stories about their private lives – Robb Flynn’s battle with bulimia being one shocking admission and how being in a band touring constantly can have devastating effects on the body and mind – but essentially Inside The Machine is about the music and the band’s rise from Bay Area dreamers to international metal stars.

Central to everything Machine Head – good and bad – is front man Robb Flynn and the book largely revolves around his story, although it soon becomes apparent that the lives of each of the musicians who has passed through the Machine are interwoven. Despite being an obvious control freak, Flynn comes across as a surprisingly likeable person.

Forthright opinions are shared by band members past and present, even old friends of the band including those famous and not. It’s easy for people to say they always knew something to be true with the aid of hindsight. But when old friends and acquaintances of Flynn and fellow guitarist Phil Demmell’s say they always knew they would amount to something, you can’t help but agree this must be true.

McIver’s true talent in the writing is making such passion and drive constantly jump from the pages. He draws comparisons to their Bay Area contemporaries and uses the rise of thrash metal in the region as a parallel to Robb Flynn and eventually Machine Head’s rise.

Machine Head: Inside the Machine is a detailed, funny and fond salute to one of the heaviest, most powerful and devastatingly underrated metal bands. Whether you are a fan or a complete novice, I urge you to check out this book and pledge to listen to their music, from this day….

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