Megadeth / Machine Head / Suicide Silence / Arcanium Live Review
Thrash titans Megadeth led a mixed bag of bands to the Orbit Room in Grand Rapids, Michigan Saturday, November 14. Despite an undercard well beneath Megadeth's caliber, the legendary band delivered such a barnstorming set the night was still a roaring success. A sold-out crowd of several hundred wild fans turned the venue's floor into a maelstrom of human bodies, insuring the night was one of ruckus rather than regret.
Opening act Arcanium delivered a short but laughable set befitting their crisis of identity. The lead singer howled like a poor man's Lamb of God while he skipped around the stage in dreads and leather straps ala Mudyvane or American Head Charge. Sounding like a drunken coupling between Trivium, Drowning Pool, and Abigail Williams, Arcanium astounded with their systematic attempt at every heavy music trend of the last 20 years. I'm not sure what the icing on the cake was – perhaps it was the mall-Goth Barbie on keyboards, or maybe the guitar malfunction two songs in. Short but sour, it was a train wreck so bad it was good.
I wish I could say the same for Suicide Silence, but they have the added detraction of people actually liking them. Delivering a plodding set of deathcore, the band stomped and slammed their way through a tedious, boring set. Besides blatantly ripping off Meshuggah, the group delivered breakdown after breakdown before begging for circle pits which never came. Bands like this make me angry – besides their cluelessness about actual metal, they play the same three notes under B-tuning and masquerade it as "technicality." Putting it bluntly, this was the most low-end sedative I've ever had the distinction of having shoved down my throat.
With this in mind, Machine Head's energetic performance after a laborious sound check seemed like a breath of fresh air. The band's grooves were crisp, their sing-alongs gigantic, and their rush onstage palpable through the entire audience. Having played annually in the Grand Rapids area four years running, Machine Head show no signs of rusting with age. Balancing epic majesty with barbaric aural assaults, the band hit the perfect horizon between stately and savage.
Though Machine Head were decent, the true masters of the evening were undoubtedly Megadeth. Instantly launching into a large chunk of meaty thrash, the Bay Area battlers busted out a two hour set heavily focused on oldies over new cuts. 2009's incarnation of Megadeth has such a diverse discography something exists for every taste. Thrash purists, for example, got "Peace Sells" and "Devil's Island" while those aching for huge choruses wailed along to "Symphony of Destruction" and "Hanger 18." "Headcrusher" proved itself worthy of the Megadeth stamp while "Tornado of Souls," "Holy Wars" and "Ashes in Your Mouth" revealed the difference between technical and tepid for lesser acts to notice.
The quality of Megadeth's metal was such that it elevated the night from good to great, the mark of a kingly band. There was little stage banter and fewer pauses – clearly the marching orders for the night hinged on delivering as much thrash as possible. With this in mind, mission complete – concert-goers left the venue battered, bruised and blissful.
Arcanium – www.myspace.com/arcaniumband
Suicide Silence – www.myspace.com/suicidesilence
Machine Head – www.myspace.com/machinehead
Megadeth – www.myspace.com/megadeth