Machine Head has come under fire in recent years for the direction that their music has taken. Instead of sticking with the straight-forward crushing rock of their earlier albums, the Bay Area metallers have incorporated some rap-rock elements into their sound. While that has led to a legion of disbelievers, fans and haters alike acknowledge Machine Head as one of the best live bands in metal.
Road Runner has attempted to capture that lighting in a bottle, Hellalive. Mostly recorded at a concert at the Brixton Academy in England, the album draws from across Machine Head's discography (two songs were recorded later at a gig in Germany). Their set crossed the gambit from songs like “None But My Own” on Burn My Eyes to “Supercharger“, the title track of their latest studio release. Highlights of Machine Head's performance that night included the crushing “Ten Ton Hammer“, “Crashing Around You” (which had Flynn explaining how he came up with it as its intro) and the emotional “The Burning Red“. The one questionable inclusion to the set list was “American High“, something one might not expect to hear played to a British crowd.
Fans that have never had the opportunity to see the group are lucky that Hellalive was released as it marks the last Machine Head recordings with guitarist Ahrue Luster. While the liner notes remark that he only provided “additional guitars”, at the time of the recording he was a full member of the group.
Hellalive was named by a fan through a contest run by Road Runner. The disc was recorded in front of the fans, and was dedicated to 'Headerz' everywhere. And, above all, it deserves a spot in every Machine Head fan's collection.