On a mid-December night, Fear Factory returned to one of their strongholds in order to remember the album that kickstarted their journey to become industrial metal royalty. But has it aged well or should the past be left in the past?
Kicking things off in the capital were Irish trio Dead Label. Although they were not a band I was previously familiar with, they put on a storming show. The playing was tight and their genuine gratitude for being there made the crowd warm to them and they surprised all. The female drummer, Claire, was especially precise and they were a joy to watch. I hope it’s not too long until I have the pleasure again.
The main support tonight were Once Human. A mostly Australian band that are in the strange situation of this being their first tour but are already much hyped, which is basically down to one man – their guitarist Logan Mader (ex-Machine Head) is a bit of a metal legend and his new band are out to prove themselves. The female fronted five-piece immediately showed what they are made of by blitzing through songs from their debut album.
With the growls, screams and occasional clean vocals echoing around the Forum, the thunderous riffs and heart-stopping bass ignited a sea of movement in the crowd. This is precision, well crafted metal. The band were all over the stage, playing up to the crowd and Logan especially looked like he was having a great time. I’m in no doubt that his fame helped to get them where they are today but tonight, on this stage, they proved that they are part of the future of this industry. The musicianship and showmanship from the whole band were phenomenal and finishing off their set with a cover of Machine Head’s Davidian was a damn fine idea. This is a band to keep your eye on.
Finally we get to the reason for being here. Demanufacture turned 20 years old this year and continuing on with the popular concept of playing albums in full at this anniversary, Fear Factory do just that in tribute. I’m still not completely sold on the idea of playing an entire album live but it does mean that you get to hear some songs that you may not have heard for years, or even at all, in a concert setting. As soon as they began playing the title track Demanufacture, the crowd went wild. This is a very popular album that many other bands have cited as an influence. The room was just ignited and the feeling of mutual love and respect from everyone involved was beautiful.
Playing through favourites like Self Bias Resistor and New Breed, the band felt fresh and re-energised. The epic Zero Signal was a highlight I hadn’t heard live for years and the ever popular Replica was delivered to perfection. The band were on top form and definitely put on a stellar performance to cap off their European tour. It was great to see Burton and Dino back together and working so cohesively, exhibiting a regimental precision that they have honed over 25+ years that a lot of bands today can only dream of.
After the album had been completed, some of the crowd didn’t know what to expect next andhe band threw together another 6 songs that were a pleasant surprise. Starting off the last part of the set with the bombastic Shock and Edgecrusher, they then went on to showcase 3 songs from their latest album Genexus. Soul Hacker is a fantastic showcase for Burton’s vocal range, showing his diversity and carrying the message of their dystopian view of the world perfectly. Finally they closed the set with Martyr, a great way to finish off an incredible night.
Fear Factory have created an album which sounds as completely fresh today as it did 20 years ago. Their concepts about man vs machine are still very relevant and they seem to get better with age. Despite evolving with the times and being somewhat experimental in later years, they have kept the single thread that binds them together and as such have become industrial metal pioneers. I’m sure I speak for everyone else at the show when I say the support acts were perfectly chosen, here’s to many more years of cyber metal and thank you gentlemen!
Fear FactoryKentish Town Forum - 13th December 2015
Photographer: Colm Browne