An influential West Coast heavy metal quartet and pioneers in the modern metalcore sound, Machine Head formed in 1991 around the talents of ex-Vio-Lence guitar player Robert Flynn and bass player Adam Duce. Joined by guitarist Logan Mader and drummer Tony Costanza, their D.I.Y. work ethic, aggressive playing, and relentless self-promotion eventually landed them a deal with Roadrunner Records, a relationship that would extend all the way through 2005. Their blistering debut, 1994's Burn My Eyes, which saw the departure of Costanza and the arrival of new drummer Chris Kontos, blended the powerful, modern attack of Pantera and Alice in Chains with the volatility of classic thrash bands like Death Angel and Slayer, earning them a huge European following. The record sold over 500,000 copies and spawned a massive international tour that lasted almost two years.
Kontos was replaced by Dave McClain on 1997's More Things Change, an album that saw the band blending speed and progressive metal with dizzying results. The excessive touring and high-octane lifestyle took its toll on the group — Mader departed in 1998, making room for new six-stringer Ahrue Luster — but the bandmembers fought their demons on 1999's Burning Red, resulting in the hit "From This Day," their first commercial single and video. Supercharger was released in 2001, followed by the concert album Hellalive and the critically lauded Through the Ashes of Empires in 2003 — new guitarist Phil Demmel (ex-Vio-Lence) took over for Luster shortly before the latter LP's release. The concert video Elegies arrived in 2005, followed by the classic new-phase Blackening in 2007.
In late 2010, Machine Head went back into the studio, setting up shop in Green Day's Jingletown Studios to begin work on a new album. Produced by Flynn himself, the band's seventh LP, Unto the Locust, appeared in 2011. The group returned the following year with the enthusiastically titled live album Machine F**king Head Live! and continued touring relentlessly, both in the United States and throughout Europe.
In February 2013, Duce left the band, making Flynn the only original remaining member. After a series of auditions, Jared MacEachern, formerly of Sanctify, was named as his replacement. Machine Head returned to the studio in February 2014, building on the more intense sounds of their previous two studio albums; they emerged in November with Bloodstone & Diamonds. Catharsis, the group's ninth studio long-player, followed in early 2018, produced by Flynn and recorded, mixed, and co-produced by Zack Ohren (Fallujah, All Shall Perish). Both Demmel and McClain left the band later in 2018; they were replaced temporarily by a pair of returning members, Logan Mader and Chris Kontos, reuniting most of the unit who had recorded Burn My Eyes. A 25th anniversary tour of the album followed, as well as a re-recording of the full album live in the studio. Original drummer Tony Costanza died on August 4, 2020, at the age of 52. ~ James Christopher Monger