The line-up was picked perfectly for this tour, from the bands abilities to bring unique heavy metal and modern hybrid influences to a big audience and worked the crowd. As Machine Head’s older fans and Darkest Hour and Suicide Silence’s younger fans filed in, some still excited from nearby Mardi Gras parades, the generations mixed, mingled, sized each other up, and eventually socialized as they waited to see two great bands opening for one of metal’s best known bands ever.
Darkest Hour offered a shredding dual guitar attack by Mike Schleibaum and Mike Carrigan, influenced by power scales and ridding bridges that take solo hammer on’s to eleven. John Henry’s vocals were brute and he bellowed over the great speed of the rhythm section. The crowd was enlivened by the incredible energy that this opening band injected into the House of Blues dark interior. At the end of the set, we all wanted more. People made movements like they were still listening to music that wasn’t playing as they asked the band for just one more. Their blood was just beginning to boil.
Down-tuned and in-your-face, Suicide Silence controls the raging crowd like a puppeteer; their movements are held captive to this band’s mixture of double-kick drums by the talented Alex Lopez, spoken word, growled and screamed vocals by Mitch Lucker, and the break down chaos formed by the two guitarists Chris Garza and Mark Heylmun. The slower chugging riffs they bring the swell of music down with seem to be what this band strives for, and the crowd reacts with much appreciation signaled through noise and battery within the pit as Mitch instructs them on how he wants to see them mosh; standing with one leg on his riser in a pose that seemed like he would jump into the crowd at any second. A fan favorite and a hit with those new to the Suicide Silence experience was their hate-filled anthem “Fuck Everything,” a title to make any get together into a dysfunctional group sing along.
As a Black Sabbath song raises to full concert volume before the lights dim, it’s clear in everyone’s mind that the music waiting ahead will reverberate through the French Quarter like a war siren in a apocalyptic raid. They chant “Machine fuckin’ Head” for what seems like an eternity. Finally, the musicians climb on stage to the cheers of the crowd one-by-one before launching into “I Am Hell,” which the hungry fans sing-along to backed by a low-strum death march, and into a sonic thrash whiplash. Machine Head’s whole show was spectacular. The lighting in particular was amazing to me, telling the story of the song as much as the lyrics would. The stage was bathed in a bloody red during the opening song illustrating the red Hell he was speaking of then looked frigid in an icy blue, and later, toxic green as the audience was inundated with bright yellows and oranges in their eyes continually, then shocked with incredibly bright strobes that could make you lose your sense of balance completely. Robb Flynn remains one of the best frontmen for crowd participation, acting like a vodka-soaked circle pit conductor. Since forging a new sound of Bay Area thrash, hardcore half-beats, groove metal and dark melodic arrangements, many bands can be heard using formulas that they pioneered. Machine Head performed many songs from their latest album “Unto the Locust” which showcased the band’s razor blade intensity with Phil Demmel’s harmonic guitar and their signature sound while offering strong hooks on the chorus to every song. And they could not do without favorites like “Imperium” and the re-titled live favorite “The Blood, the Sweat, the Beers.” They seem to be taking a page from Iron Maiden and Judas Priest by making these heavy metal torch songs.
Machine Head and all the bands that night proved that this brand of music stays in the blood of those who have been fans since the beginning, and resonates to the new ones as well.
Emily is an avid supporter of the New Orleans scene, often filming shows and conducting interviews with local bands to help promote their music. She also runs her own site dedicated to the New Orleans scene, Crescent City Chaos.