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Machine Head 

With 3rd Strike and Darwin's Waiting Room. Wednesday, February 13, at the Odeon.

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Machine Head has had some bad fortune, but it's also made some bad decisions. The band's untoward luck includes being blown off the stage by its opening act while touring in support of its often (and rightly) reviled 1999 album The Burning Red. That opening act? Some unknown band from Des Moines, of all places, called Slipknot.

The Head recovered from that, though, and came back in 2001 with its fourth album, Supercharger. The street date for the disc? Tuesday, September 11. Oops.

Unlucky breaks aside, some of Machine Head's now-precarious standing in the metal community has to be attributed to bad calls on the band's part. The Burning Red was thoroughly castigated upon its release. Covering a Police song and wallowing in pathetically bandwagonesque rap-metal clichés will earn vituperation from the metal faithful every time, particularly if a band has an album half as powerful as the Head's classic debut, Burn My Eyes, to live up to.

The thing is, though, Supercharger kinda reclaims some of the ground the band lost back in 1999. And Machine Head really does bring it live. It's about to prove that with an upcoming live album, recorded in London. So maybe it deserves a little mercy, a little recognition from the metal hordes. Maybe Supercharger will be a record that takes a while to achieve its proper place, but winds up, in time, with its status ensured. It's not Burn My Eyes II, but it's not More Burning Red, either. (Ditching Ross Robinson guaranteed that.) Give Machine Head another chance. These guys deserve it, after all that they've been through.

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