As live albums go, Hellalive is solid: a nice cross section of songs from Machine Head's four albums, a dense, guitar-centric mix (courtesy of famed metal producer Colin Richardson), and tight, energetic performances. But Hellalive came at a time when Machine Head's vitality was ebbing; preceding studio record Supercharger was frontman/leader Robb Flynn's weakest songwriting effort, the band was faced with indifference from both the metal underground and mainstream rock audiences, and second guitarist Ahrue Luster had exited the band (two of the live tracks here feature six-stringer Phil Demmel, of Flynn's former thrash act Vio-Lence). This live set, recorded primarily at London's Brixton Academy in 2001, is adequately muscular, Flynn unleashing his demons on venom-spewers "Take My Scars," "Ten Ton Hammer," and "The Blood, the Sweat, the Tears," with Dave McClain's thunder drums providing an unshakable foundation for the band's post-thrash power-groove riffs. Still, the strength of Machine Head's early material makes latter-day cuts "The Burning Red," "Crashing Around You," and "American High" sound comparatively flaccid -- and while early Machine Head albums Burn My Eyes and The More Things Change were bona fide events in the metal underground, the band outclassing the likes of Pantera and Biohazard with exceptional riffs and songwriting, Hellalive offers little more than a ho-hum to anyone but the band's most devoted fans.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by John Serba