Fear Factory – 3 Evenings with DemanufactureTuesday, 19th April 2016
While more and more bands are touring in support of a favorite album’s “fill in the blank” anniversary, few can rival the lasting impact of Fear Factory’s Demanufacture. An album that arguably set the course for many heavy metal acts to come, it’s a rare album that has not only withstood the test of time, but feels just as fresh now as it did back in 1995. For this scribe, it was the gateway to which a world of heavy metal was discovered. Therefore, a one-night review wasn’t going to do this tour justice. – Kyle McGinn
April 9, 2016 – Worcester Palladium – Worcester, MA
Strolling in just as the last local act, Ruin, was finishing their last song, it seemed that The Palladium was going to be a pretty packed house (it turned out to be a near sell-out crowd). First up on the national front was NYC’s Martyrd. An interesting band to say the least – they were quite hard to nail down, soundwise. There were elements of thrash and near-death metal (a few times succumbing to blast beats), but the vocals mostly stuck to a sung, almost-power metal tone. The crowd took to it pretty well, particularly the “heavier” tracks, which started to bring about some moshing, an indicator of things to come later in the night. The band certainly won over the crowd before they left the stage, and it will be interesting to hear their new album, slated for this summer.
California’s Spades and Blades hit the stage next. A high-energy performance seemed to be just what the crowd was looking for to warm up for Soilwork, and Spades and Blades hit the spot. Some definite metalcore-isms to their sound, with the contrast between breakdowns and some harsh/clean vocal patterns (the guitarist does the singing). Vocalist Jason Todd was all over the stage, encouraging any and all crowd participation, and other members of the band got as close as possible to the audience to get them into as well, and much of the audience was keen to participate. The pit started to become more intense, with security having to come in and break up a fight at one point.
After already running support for Soulfly, this tour marks Soilwork’s second time coming to the States in support of their latest release, The Ride Majestic. Filling in for guitarist David Andersson was Ronny Gutierrez, and seemed to be a good fit for the band. Playing off of Sylvain Coudret, all of the usual Soilwork guitar theatrics seemed to be in full-force as the band played through a setlist that spanned much of their discography from A Predator’s Portrait onwards. “Bastard Chain” and “Follow the Hollow” along with newer cut “Late for the Kill, Early for the Slaughter” proved the band can still shred with the best of them. Vocalist Bjorn Strid continues to improve as a frontman, and was given plenty of time to shine, particularly with The Ride Majestic cut “Whirl of Pain,” which came across even stronger in the live setting than on disc.
At last, Fear Factory made their way to the stage. As the title track kicked in, the entire front of the pit seemed to become a pushing match, with members being squeezed around, while much of the crowd shouted out the lyrics along with vocalist Burton C. Bell. Playing through Demanufacture with minimal interruptions seemed to make the moment even stronger, only really stopping before “Replica” to cue in some crowd participation for “I don’t want to live that way.” A real treat to get to hear “Dog Day Sunrise,” “Body Hammer,” “H-K,” and “Pisschrist” in the live setting, it made for some great moments. The relatively mellow “Dog Day Sunrise” allowed for a short breather between the crushing “New Breed” and “Body Hammer” as audience members sang along. Things seemed to hit a fever pitch by the time that “H-K” began, with crowdsurfing and moshing moving throughout the Palladium’s pit and the vibe had really gelled into something special. The clean singing that ends out “Pisschrist” also elicited a similar response, with the crowd at the ready, singing out “Where is your savior now?” “A Therapy for Pain” came across quite effectively in the live arena as well, with Bell and the crowd singing with plenty of heart before the band took a quick breather.
Following Demanufacture, the band played a number of older cuts, including “What Will Become” and “Archetype,” but it was the one-two punch of “Shock” and “Edgecrusher” that seemed to get the audience into the biggest frenzy. At one point, the band told an amusing story about how the song “New Breed” got its title at a parking lot in Boston (they didn’t want to interrupt the flow earlier), and they played two new cuts from Genexus – “Soul Hacker” and “Regenerate.” A fitting closer for the evening, “Martyr” took the band back to their beginnings, and closed out the night in excellent fashion (with the help from a few members of Spades and Blades).
April 10, 2016 – The Chance Theater – Poughkeepsie, NY
Starting the evening off on a good note, Soilwork’s “The Chainheart Machine” could be heard outside the venue during their soundcheck (they were undoubtedly practicing for show number 2 in NYC the following night). First band up this evening was local act Deadtide. A melodic death metal band, this NY/NJ group captures the spirit of early Gothenburg well. Lots of cool In Flames (before they got too big for their britches) and Dark Tranquillity vibes permeated the set, which focused on riffs above all. Lots of potential for this young act, with vocalist Mike showing plenty of stage energy and the band performing an instrumental that would surely make ‘90s-era In Flames smile. A new album is on the horizon, and one should definitely plan to take in Deadtide if given the opportunity.
The same could not be said for the other opening act, One Day Waiting. Seemingly fusing Godsmack and some ‘core elements, sadly much of the band’s sound relied upon seemingly tossed in breakdowns. The transitions to these breakdowns were sometimes jarring to say the least. For their part, they got some of the crowd into it with a cover of Drowning Pool’s “Bodies,” and seemed to gain some momentum for the songs following, but count this writer out when it comes to this more modern hybridization.
Martyrd continued to impress with this second viewing, and seemed to capture the crowd in the same way as the evening before. There’s a certain energy in the band’s tracks that needs to be witnessed in the live setting to really take hold, and it seems that if they can continue the momentum and grab another high-profile tour or two, they could go places. Spades and Blades again fired up the audience with their metalcore sound, though there wasn’t quite as much space at The Chance as the band was privy to the night before. But they did all they could, and provided some entertainment before the two main acts to come.
Having witnessed Soilwork play to a not so full Chance Theater back in 2013, what was most surprising was the difference that three years make. Upon opening with “The Ride Majestic” it was clear that the crowd was very much in Soilwork’s corner and gave them quite a welcome. Playing the same set as the previous evening (was hoping for “The Chainheart Machine” after the soundcheck but oh well), the smaller venue gave the opportunity to witness Dirk Verbeuren blast away on the kit with more ease, and “The Living Infinite I” and “Tongue” eliciting a good crowd response, alongside fan favorites “Nerve” and “Rejection Role.” The band is set to come back potentially in the fall for a needed headlining set, which should allow some more favorites back into the set.
The Chance Theater was not sold out, but was pleasantly full and Fear Factory really ignited things once again. The crowd was slightly less destructive compared to the Palladium gig, which allowed for some more viewing of the band’s intensity and energy as opposed to the crowd’s. Pretty consistent from the previous evening (the only difference in setlist was the lack of “What Will Become”), taking in Demanufacture was a bit of a dream come true, given it’s high-regard from a personal standpoint, and the big venue/small venue comparison allowed it to completely soak in from varying perspectives. Its clear Fear Factory are alive and well (and in demand based on the number of sold out shows) and their energy and genuine thankfulness each night was rewarding in and of itself. A tour experience not to be missed, and one that will be genuinely cherished by this scribe. – Kyle McGinn
April 12, 2016 – Altar Bar – Pittsburgh, PA
Four years ago, Fear Factory played to a half-filled room at Altar Bar. It could have been because Five Finger Death Punch and Killswitch Engage were playing at a much larger venue the same night, or, folks were still warming up to the reconfigured, new, but old version of the band. This scribe remembers Burton C. Bell thanking those in attendance for not being at “the other show in town.” Fast forward to today, and it’s a much different story. Fear Factory (along with Soilwork) sold out Altar Bar, which while being a fine venue in its own right, is entirely too uncomfortable when packed to the brim. (Germaphobes shudder to think.)
Even though their Genexus album isn’t even a year old, Fear Factory has opted to tour off of the 20 year anniversary of Demanufacture. Technically, it’s the 21st anniversary, but who’s counting? After a wholly unforgettable set from Spades and Blades (who may or may not be pimping out Christian metal), Soilwork were up, cramped stage and all. (This is what happens when you have six members in the band.) Leaning heavily on last year’s fabulous The Ride Majestic, 2013’s The Living Infinite, and their worst album, Stabbing the Drama, the Swedes, like they always do, went down in a storm in Pittsburgh. Speed Strid was his usual commanding self, showcasing his ever-versatile clean vocal range, which came in handy on “Tongue” and “Let This River Flow.” Even with the sub-nu metal bounce of “Nerve” and “Stabbing the Drama” bringing things back to 2015, newer cuts like “The Ride Majestic,” “The Living Infinite I” and “Late for the Kill, Early for the Slaughter” were prime reminders of how well Soilwork have aged.
Being that Demanufacture is an undisputed classic, playing it in its entirety makes perfectly good sense for Fear Factory. Given their current creative wheels are somewhat spinning based on the all-too-familiar plot of Genexus, hearing the still-vibrant “Self-Bias Resister,” “Bodyhammer” and “H-K (Hunter Killer)” from Fear Factory was certainly welcome. He may have his occasional stumble in the clean vocal department, but Bell appeared to be having a good night, most notably on “Dog Day Sunrise.”
The obvious encore after “A Therapy for Pain” led into a spate of newer songs. “Soul Hacker” and “Regenerate” were hammered home about as well as they could have been, but it was the run of “Shock,” “Edgecrusher” and “Martyr,” yanked from the band’s Soul of the New Machine debut that provided a fitting end to a night that was mostly nostalgic from a band who has based their career on being futuristic. – David E. Gehlke