It has been 20 years since Fear Factory released their genre defining and barrier shattering magnum opus Demanufacture – an album that not only changed the landscape of the metal community worldwide, but also changed the way metal music was produced from then on. You know those crisp clean almost robotic like drum kit sounds you hear on your favourite band’s albums these days? Well you need to thank this album for that.
So fast forward to the present day, Fear Factory return to the scene where it all started for them in the UK – the HMV Forum in Kentish Town, London. It marks the final date on the band’s European tour to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of such a milestone, and oh my golly gosh do they see this tour out with an absolute storm!
Opening for the evening’s festivities is Irish metal trio Dead Label. Having not known too much about this band prior to arriving this evening, it is safe to say that they blew this writer away with the ferocious showmanship that the band collectively project. Each musician in this band is a powerhouse in their own right – be it Claire Percival’s mind-blowing technical precision on the drums (she can really bloody hit them with the force of a thousand angry boxing champions), the sheer scope and power of six stringed wizardry that guitarist Danny Hall can produce as a long guitarist, and the incredible technical bass precision and frontman capabilities that vocalist Dan O’Grady commands from the crowd. These are most definitely a band that are on the verge of something rather special, and demand your immediate attention. A most welcome surprise!
The main support band for the evening comes in the form of (predominantly) Australian metal crew Once Human – the brainchild between multi-instrumentalist Lauren Hart, and metal music producer and legend Logan Mader. What is the most surprising thing about this set is the fact that this is Once Human’s first ever proper tour, to which they are warmly received by the fans in attendance this evening. Sounding like the devil spawn of bands like Arch Enemy and Carcass, these guys are outrageously heavy and are able to pull off a solid set with ease, even if the younger members of the band are still finding their comfort zones on stage.
However, it is not until frontwoman Lauren announces that after a blistering set they will be finishing off with a song from Logan’s other band. Around this time is when the whole crowd explodes, and realises that his other band was indeed Machine Head, and they rip in to a scathing rendition of ‘Davidian‘. Talk about warming the crowd up! Whilst Once Human still have a long way to go, it is safe to say that they are protected in the safe hands of Mader and Hart. You will certainly be hearing more from these guys in 2016.
So after two great support acts, the time came for this writer to live out a bucket list dream which he had been waiting for 20 years in the making… Fear Factory performing Demanufacture back to back. It is utterly compelling to see a crowd go absolutely bananas to a record that in the live environment as well as on record, seems to not have lost its edge at all. Songs like ‘Self-Bias Resistor’, ‘Replica’, ‘H-K (Hunter Killer)’, and soaringly dominant rendition of ‘Zero Signal’ erupt the dance floor in to a maelstrom of chaos. There is not a moment spared where the crowd are not feeding off of this and giving back their appreciation with an unrivalled amount of energy. Even more tender moments such as ‘Dog Day Sunrise’ and ‘A Therapy For Pain’ get the emotions running amongst grown men in the crowd, which just goes to show that even them big, scary, beer drenched metal heads are even in touch with their sensitive side.
The band themselves are on fine form – technically precise, genuinely stoked to be doing what they are doing, and ever so grateful to their loyal and dedicated crowd. After their performance of Demanufacture back to back, they return for a second set list which is made up of three new songs from their latest album Genexus (which nearly got overshadowed due to the 20th anniversary of aforementioned album) including ‘Dielectric’, ‘Soul Hacker’, and ‘Regenerate’ – all of which are bloody incredible songs and go down an absolute treat. But the band wrap up the evening with a poignant version of ‘Martyr’, a choice cut from their debut album Soul Of A New Machine. However it must be said that the ending felt very immediate, as there was no real build up to cap off the evening with the crowd’s last chance to mosh, which in a very, very tiny sense felt like an anti-climax.
Regardless of this one fact, it is safe to say that Fear Factory sound just as feral, as hungry, and as important as they ever have done tonight. Whilst they have had a career of ups and downs, this was certainly a high point by all means necessary. And on the evidence of the new material, it looks like Fear Factory could well rejuvenate a whole new area of interest in 2016. Tonight was a respectful nod to the past, a life affirming evening within the present, and with heads held high for a promising future for the band. Here’s hoping the can reach the peak of that mountain in due time!