According to Phil Demmel’s twitter, it’s been 10 years since he joined Machine Head – congratulations to Phil Demmel on this awesome milestone! Read on for my short little tribute to Phil and why I think he saved Machine Head from fading into OBLIVION (and vice versa).
— Phil Demmel (@DemmelitionMH) April 12, 2013
10 years ago (i.e. 2003), a lot of good things were happening in the metal world. Lamb of God released As The Palaces Burn, Chimaira released The Impossibility of Reason and Trivium began their path to metal conquest with Ember To Inferno.
Machine Head were, however, on the fast track to becoming utterly irrelevant in the metal scene. After the disappointing releases that were The Burning Red and Supercharger, Machine Head lost their second guitarist and they did not even have a record deal in the United States. Things were dire, to say the least (as very well documented in their DVD Elegies).
Cue Phil Demmel. We all know Through the Ashes of Empire was the resurrection of Machine Head. It was the album that returned Machine Head to their rightful place in the metal world. Although Ashes was predominantly written as a three-piece, Demmel did contribute to In the Presence of My Enemies and Days Turn Blue to Gray. However, I don’t think it is Demmel’s musical contribution per se that saved Machine Head, it was the new energy and breath of fresh air that he brought into the the Machine Head environment.
The environment within Machine Head was poisonous and toxic during that period. Each and every member was frustrated with the music industry and were torn as to what to do with the band. Should they quit? Should they write radio hits? Demmel himself was looking to quit the industry and thought of Machine Head as his last hurrah before bowing out. I think that “let’s just have some fun” attitude from Demmel during the writing process of Ashes gave Machine Head the new burst of energy and lease of life that they were so desperately after.
Let’s fast forward 4 years to 2007. We all know the success that The Blackening was. With the exception of Aesthetics of Hate, Demmel is credited with contributing to every song on that album. Similarly with the amazing follow up that is Unto The Locust, Demmel contributes to all but two of the songs. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that none of this success would have been possible were it not for Demmel. I think Dave Mustaine’s quote about Chris Broderick is equally applicable to Machine Head finding Phil Demmel:
“It’s like when Ozzy [Osbourne] met Randy [Rhoads]“.
Having laid all that lavish praise onto Demmel and Co, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing however given the departure of Duce earlier this year. But I can confidently say that with Demmel present with Flynn and McClain, there should be plenty more awesome Machine Head releases to come.
So did Demmel save Machine Head? Fuck yes he did. Did Machine Head save Demmel? Fuck yes they did. Happy 10 years dude.