Machine Head at the Academy, Dublin, 19 December 2014

While statements like“there’s no place I’d rather finish a tour,” can feel a cynical to a regular frequenter of live shows in Ireland, Robb Flynn is mighty convincing.  His expression of love for the fair city transforms into a prolonged anecdote about Machine Head’s first gig outside the states – a support slot for Slayer in the Ambassador theatre in the mid-nineties. There’s a real smile on his face when he recalls the audience knowing every word of their songs when he hadn’t even expected anybody in Ireland to even know who Machine Head were.

In return for all this fan-love, Machine Head deliver a career-spanning, fan-pleasing selection of tunes, plus a compliment of tracks from latest album ‘Bloodstone and Diamonds’. The band on top form as they flow seamlessly from old material to new, it becomes easier to see why Dublin may just be something special after all.

The whole thing is unashamedly heavy and aggressive, with Ten Ton Hammer and Davidian practically shaking the walls with percussive force, each shift to a new part amping the intensity up a little higher, each new riff getting a little more violent.

The newer material sits comfortable alongside the old. Killers & Kings feels like both a natural progression from the likes of Locust off the previous album – a huge anthemic number grounded around an infectiously old-school, thrash metal riff – as well as a counterpoint form material form two decades ago.

Even the softer numbers fall upon the Academy like an avalanche. Darkness Within is about as close as Machine Head get to displaying a softer, more tender side, with Flynn playing the opening solo on acoustic guitar. Any moment of respite is but a calm before the storm however, as when the rest of the band come crashing in the heavier than hell intensity returns with more force than ever, as acoustic ballad morphs into mega trashy outburst.

The band culminate on the epic swell and cathartic release of Halo – bringing the gig, and the tour, to a close with a blast of noise.

With rumours that Flynn and  co. popped up in Fibbers of a few beers after the show, there may just may been more to his claims of love for Dublin beyond the usual cursory platitudes after all.