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All In Your Head 

In the world of hardcore music, it's easy to mistake bands that claim to be hardcore for bands that are best described as "heavy." The Oakland, Calif., foursome Machine Head makes no claim for their rigid abrasiveness -- all you need to know about their heavy metal is what they bring to the stage every night. If their albums aren't enough proof of the weight with which they bring the noise, their show at Spokane's Big Easy Concert House on Wednesday will lay all doubts to rest. These guys are pure metal.

Machine Head has come a long way in just over a decade. Personnel changes, five albums and countless shows have scraped away the excesses of a band forged in hard rock and revealed a refined and driven ensemble. Steeped in a working-class ethos and sustained by a singular vision, Machine Head has risen above the preconceptions of their critics and found a faithful following as well as accolades from the hard rock community. From a balmy sound check in Tallahassee, Fla., drummer Dave McClain talks about where he and his fellow bandmates have been and what's on the horizon.

"We're about four weeks into this leg of the tour, and once we finish here we'll be doing festivals in Europe," McClain explains.

The band has been touring for the better part of two years since the release of its latest record Through the Ashes of Empires (Roadrunner). The album has been critically hailed by the hard rock press, but in a bizarre twist the band actually left their label for a short time right before it was released.

"We ended up splitting from [Roadrunner], and they actually came back to us with an offer that was really good," says McClain. "It gave us more independence, but it was kind of like starting over. We had the advantage of knowing everyone at the label and having a lot of people there who loved the band."

The band's 10-megaton sound comes compliments of a heavy bottom end held down by bassist Adam Duce, while McClain provides bombastic drums with surgical precision. A two-guitar attack allows Robert Flynn room to belt out his monstrous vocals while Phil Demmel shreds eardrums with his piercing metal riffing. Through the Ashes showcased new ideas that stemmed from a traditional heavy metal sound. The album caused a surge of interest from a growing U.S. fan base and in the European market as well. The anomaly about this composition is that even without a radio-friendly single, the band has managed to get down in the trenches and secure more supporters with each passing show.

On the last tour to Europe, Machine Head was able to sustain three months' worth of shows and solidify their place in the psyche of European metal fans. It comes as no surprise that a band like this takes their music seriously and vows to spread it to all corners of the earth.

"We just recently did a show in the Middle East," McClain explains. "It was weird in an amazing way. We were told not to go and that we would end up dead, but we went and ended being treated the best we have ever been treated."

Any resistance Machine Head has encountered has only fused the band into a highly efficient heavy metal machine. And that machine is ready to roll through our city, taking no prisoners.

Says McClane, "We're looking forward to bringing some metal to Spokane and seeing what you guys think."

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