Phil Demmel - Machine Head
After Rob Flynn's slanderous exodus and farewell from Vio-lence, I never eagerly followed his career in Machine Head. Now that I have heard and reviewed The Blackening, clenching the metal fist of this intent, I was grateful to spend some time getting to know guitarist Phil Demmel and saying, "hello!" to Rob Flynn; thereby, apologizing for my past disinterest. I was very excited about this opportunity, as I am quite fond of Rob & Phil's contributions in Vio-lence.
Therefore, in the presence of my amity, in order to escape the freezing cold season thither, we waited. Indeed, it was not such a beautiful morning, now turned to afternoon, but we bit the bullet patiently, until it was time to climb aboard the bus. Once we became situated and more comfortable; now I laid my thesis down, and began to indulge my curiousity with Phil: discussing the success of their new CD, how the Lamb Of God tour went for them, what response they had received from their fans, and how they were selected as the opening act for Heaven & Hell. We also discussed other future tours and festivals which Machine Head intend to play. These kind aesthetics of fate all portend that nothing may be left unfinished or unsaid.
MettleAngel: Hey man how are you doing?
MettleAngel: I have a pretty powerful memory. I don't use the gadgets or equipment with all the whistles and bells. I don't write down everything, just the juicy stuff. I just like to talk and hang out, and use the pertinent information for the interview.
MettleAngel: So this is your last show for this tour, correct?
MettleAngel: Awesome, two weeks off, then you come back for the Heaven & Hell Tour, what a deal that is! How did you manage to score such an awesome opening position like that?
MettleAngel: Well that's pretty sweet, since, like Megadeth, you are a thrash band supergroup. I know that you and Rob played together in Vio-lence; while your drummer Dave played in such great bands like Sacred Reich, Juggernaut, and San Antonio Slayer. So here in America, Black Sabbath fans, who range in ages from the very young to the well-aged, will get to see Dio sing. Some fans will witness this for the first time in over two decades, as well as be treated to two truly killer California thrash acts. Meanwhile, our brothers in Britain will soon be treated to Lamb Of God and Iced Earth as their openers.
MettleAngel: You're not?
MettleAngel: Well, then what style do you consider yourself to play?
MettleAngel: Well, I'm a huge fan a Vio-lence, and have always been impressed by your guitar playing and intense solos, as well as Rob's rhythms. Unfortunately, I'm not too familiar with most Machine Head music. When Rob left Vio-lence to form Machine Head, I was quite enraged and disappointed, and never bothered to become too involved. Then, when I heard the new album and realized that you were back as a guitar dynamic duo; I instantly became curious about how Machine Head's updated approach would sound. I had heard there had been quite an evolution in song and style over the years, and that when you rejoined the band many old school fans were quite excited. When I reviewed the CD, I was blown away, because the music is amazing and the shredding is superb. It's hard to believe there are only eight songs, and over half of them are quite long; However, given their duration, they never become tedious or boring. In fact, the melodies are performed in such a manner that one would not even realize that he was enjoying a song ten minutes long. These are not those progressive outings common to Dream Theater, nor are they just long endearing sagas similar to Maiden. In fact, they are quite thrashy and ultimately raging anthems.
MettleAngel: Oh, I agree, and I've read that when you and Rob wrote these songs you wrote them to endure, so that ten years from now, thrash fans can look back and say, "What an amazing album The Blackening truly is!". I myself, being such a huge Vio-lence fan, have noticed such amazing guitar work endeavours, as I aptly indicated in my review. All fans of Viol-ence and Machine Head will enjoy this album because it will be... "Impressing the masses with eternal nightmarish soloing"... I did not mention anything from Nothing To Gain since most Vio-lence fans tend to not be thrilled, or even vaguely familiar with that release.
MettleAngel: Oh yes, definitely, I have a tendency to include references to artists in a poetic fashion. I will often refer to band's albums and songs in a witty way; although, some readers may find it quite annoying. I did clarify my ignorance of the Machine Head anthology, but on The Blackening, I found Rob's vocals to actually be quite powerful. (To Rob) Rob, wouldn't you say you've improved vocally over the years?
MettleAngel: Overall the album is the perfect blend of the old and the new, even if the songs do tend to clock in beyond the standard thrash length.
MettleAngel: It's just like a 90 minute movie which totally sucks, even though the movie is relatively short, it just keeps dragging on and seems like forever until there is any resolution of plot or character developement. As you agonize through the neverending story, you begin to recognize that it's only half over, so either you can just give up on it, and do something else, or seriously hope there is some level of improvement. This has been the case for several movies which Wendy and I have watched lately. Now, getting back to The Blackening, do you agree with my review that there are several Vio-lence like riff qualities being performed throughout?
MettleAngel: I can definitely see and hear that. Do you feel that you play better now that you're playing with Rob again?
MettleAngel: As I mentioned, I did not pursue interest in Machine Head until recently. Now everything has come full circle; although, I have only heard your first CD and the most recent. I really do like the new songs and look forward to seeing them performed live.
MettleAngel: I was never bitter, but more just disillusioned. I am really interested in the lyrics and subject matter as disclosed on The Blackening, as well. When lyrics are written in English, they are usually very important to me. Now on this tour do you feel you have a good blend of songs to play?
MettleAngel: Well, Trivium is not playing tonight so you should have a longer set, correct?
MettleAngel: Well, that's a bummer! I was looking forward to seeing you play longer this evening. Do you feel you have a decent mix as far as your fan base? Machine Head fans, Vio-lence fans, etc.
MettleAngel: Oh yeah, far from it; Vio-lence is the reason I wanted to see Machine Head; just to give me a chance to talk to you and Rob. I love all the Vio-lence albums especially the debut - Eternal Nightmare. (Then I start to sing the lyrics for Bodies On Bodies..."massive graves retain their stench...lifeless skeletons wear their flesh...").
MettleMaiden: Are actual Machine Head fans coming to see you play live?
MettleAngel: I noticed that your CD debuted quite well in the Billboard Top 100. I think you even did better than Lordi, who are one of the headliners of Ozzfest along with Lamb Of God.
MettleAngel: So, let us take some time to discuss the recording process. Did you have some of your own ideas going into the studio?
MettleAngel: Yeah, I'm familiar with some of the struggles you had. Talk about your technical difficulties, both guitar and amps blew and Rob had to double track all the guitars. You went into the studio with 26 songs which you wittled down to eight. So, by completing those four songs, technically speaking, you had recorded half the album.
MettleAngel: So originally you never meant to write seven to nine minute songs, correct?
MettleAngel: Well, when did you know you had written a song worthy of the album?
MettleAngel: Were these songs written with a live setting mentality? When I hear songs like Aesthetics Of Hate or Halo I envision these in a live atmosphere.
MettleMaiden: How many albums are being represented in this 35 minute set?
MettleAngel: Well then I'm sure you're looking forward to having two weeks off before you get to open for the mighty Heaven & Hell. What a dream tour!
MettleAngel: Man I am so looking forward to seeing Dio with Sabbath! I mean, I've seen Dio countless of times, but never with Toni Iommi or Geezer Butler. In fact, my very first Black Sabbath tape was Live Evil. I did not even know Ozzy had originally sung for them. Even though I was such a fan of his Blizzard Of Oz release, back then, and still am. Although, I'm not super stoked about his forthcoming release. However, if Ozzfest is free, this will be quite a gathering with Three Inches Of Blood, Behemoth, Nile, Daath, Lordi, Lamb Of God, etc.
MettleAngel: You mentioned some European festivals, which ones will you be playing?
MettleAngel: Wow, you get to open for Iron Maiden too!
MettleAngel: No way, talk about the definition of metal! All that tour is missing is Judas Priest, but they are currently in the studio working on their masterpiece about Nostradameus.
MettleAngel: My brothers at Metal Covenant will sure want to see that. So - this about wraps everything up for now, until we see you next month, with Heaven & Hell.
MettleMaiden: Let me get some real quick pictures, before we finish.
See also: review of the album The Blackening