LIVE REVIEW: Fear Factory at The Academy

Fear Factory Tour Poster

Date: December 10th, 2015
Venue: The Academy, Dublin
Line-up: Fear Factory + Once Human + Dead Label

Last year a Dublin date for industrial metallers Fear Factory was announced with much excitement. However, mere hours after the announcement, the dates were immediately cancelled with the band citing that they needed the time to complete their new album, their ninth album Genexus. This delay worked in our favour as the show was re-announced but this time as a 20th anniversary tour for their breakthrough album Demanufacture, with the album played in its entirety alongside some new material and fan favourites.

Opening the show was our own Dead Label, a hardcore/metal band from Celbridge, Dublin. With a new album Throne of Bones on the horizon, the guys have been having a great year so far including a recent support slot with French giants Gojira for their Irish shows. This time not only were they supporting Fear Factory in Dublin, they were the opening band for their entire European tour, a huge opportunity for them. Keen to impress at their hometown show, bassist/vocalist Dan O’Grady wanted to get the momentum going and keep the crowd hyped. Their groovy hardcore sound and headbanging riffs were eaten up by the crowd, “Ominous” and latest single “Salvation in Sacrifice” in particular getting the mosh pits started.

Next up were newcomers Once Human from LA who released their debut album The Life I Remember in September. Most of the band members are relatively new young musicians but also in the ranks is former Machine Head/Soulfly guitarist Logan Mader, with Once Human marking his return to performing live for the first time in more than a decade. Despite the age difference, Mader was every bit as energetic as the other band members, perhaps even more so at some points when he was leaping in the air for “You C*nt” and “Time of the Disease”. Vocalist Lauren Hart resembled former Arch Enemy vocalist Angela Gossow in her vicious vocal delivery and onstage demeanour. Tearing through the stage with such venom it was nice surprise to hear some of her sweeter clean vocals appear to mix things up on “The Life I Remember”. Closing the set with a not-so-secret surprise cover of the Machine Head classic “Davidian”, this is where the crowd was most energetic screaming back those infamous lines of “Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast”.

Fear Factory opened their set with the instantly recognisable title track from Demanufacture, those precision tight drums and guitar mix went on to become a trademark of the bands sound. I often see a lot of complaints about these sort of anniversary or album type shows as cash-ins or a sign the band have no confidence in their newer material but seeing a sold-out venue of die-hard fans screaming “I’ve got no more goddamn regrets, I’ve got no more goddamn respects” helps you see the significance these shows have to the some people.

The band was firing on all cylinders, delivering a standout performance. Drummer Mike Heller delivered that machine-gun tight drumming and guitarist Dino Cazares’s guitar riffs were razor sharp and ridiculously heavy. Current touring bassist Tony Campos was always trying to get the crowd worked up, getting them to pump their fists and screaming along with them. Burton C. Bell’s vocals were on the mark with his gruff hardcore bark sounding as good as they did on record those 20 years ago. His clean vocals were a little hit and miss at some points but you tell he was giving them his all, he also had the help of the crowd singing along with him to the likes of “Self-Bias Resistor” and “Replica”.

The crowd had so much energy throughout the set especially during the heavier, faster tracks of “Body Hammer” and “Zero Signal”. Burton’s clean vocals came to the forefront towards the end of the album with, my particular highlight, “H-K (Hunter Killer)” and “Pisschrist”.

After a short break Fear Factory came back out for an encore filled with fan favourites and, of course, a chance to showcase some new material. The back-to-back momentum of “Shock” and “Edgecrusher” proved that the crowd still had a ton of energy left in them. Even the new tracks from Genexus gathered a great response, something Burton was pleasantly surprised with.

Before playing their final song Burton dragged Dead Label guitarist Danny Hall out on stage after they discovered that it was his birthday the day before and he hadn’t told them. Burton then got the whole crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to him. Fear Factory closed their set with “Martyr”, a track from their first album Soul of a New Machine, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the band. The crowd used the last of their energy to scream back the lyrics and headbang one last time before the show came to its satisfying conclusion.

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