Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

With Just Cause

Tuesday, May 18th, 2004
The Commodore Ballroom
Vancouver, British Columbia Canada

Review and live pictures by Lord of the Wasteland

Like the mighty phoenix itself, Fear Factory has come back from a poorly-received album (2001’s DIGIMORTAL), a band breakup and quick reformation with new members (and old members on new instruments) to release one of the best records of 2004, ARCHETYPE. The band has a bit of history with Vancouver as parts of 1998’s OBSOLETE were recorded here and ARCHETYPE was mixed here, as well. The last time I saw Fear Factory was on the 1999 Ozzfest jaunt, where they headlined the second stage. They did pass through town on the DIGIMORTAL tour but some genius scheduled that show the same night as Pantera/Slayer—good move—and I’ll give a shiny Canadian dollar to anyone who guesses correctly which show I attended. I was as sorry as anyone to hear that Fear Factory decided to pack it in, but once the dust had settled between vocalist Burton C. Bell and former guitarist Dino Cazares, the band got back together (minus Cazares) to record again. The resulting album saw Fear Factory play something of a one-off show immediately after their stint on the Jagermeister tour with Slipknot and Chimaira. On this Tuesday night, Vancouver fans came out in droves to cheer on the newly energized and invigorated Fear Factory. The crowd was filled with long-haired metalheads, bald hardcore dudes in wife-beaters, a few industrial Goths, and guys in Machine Head t-shirts and Korn braids. I could tell that this was going to be one crazy show!


There were two opening acts billed—Full Blown Chaos and Just Cause—neither of which I had heard of and wasn’t in any hurry to see. I ended up at the venue earlier than expected and saw that Full Blown Chaos would not be playing, though no reason was given. Once inside, the usual suspects were around including drummer extraordinaire Gene Hoglan (Strapping Young Lad, Dark Angel, Testament, Death) and Devin Townsend, who I assumed were on hand to cheer on SYL bassist Byron Stroud who is also playing with Fear Factory. Any Vancouver metalhead knows that seeing Hoglan at a metal show is nothing special because he is in the crowd for EVERY show. He’s a cool guy and always loves to meet people. The stage was set for Just Cause and at 9:30, the lights went down. Suddenly, Gene Hoglan strolls out and settles in behind the kit! It turns out that Just Cause is a thrash/hardcore side project that Hoglan has been a part of since the late 90s. Once things kicked into gear, Just Cause killed! Their music is mind-numbingly fast, but retains rhythm and a little groove. The band released an album called FINGER IT OUT in 1999 and their set covered all of that but one track and included one new song. One standout track was called “Slayer?” and vocalist Patrick Beaudoin introduced it by saying, “This one’s called Slayer. Why don’t do you this anymore?” The band launched into an old school Slayer-type riff that could have been a lost track from SHOW NO MERCY or HAUNTING THE CHAPEL. Great song with a touch of humor to it. A mystery bass player with a shag of red hair at the back of his bald head shared vocal duties with Beaudoin, while guitarist Ricardo Forrester headbanged furiously. Of course the spotlight was on Hoglan who pounded away at the drums with such fury and precision that he looked like he was going to go right through them! The band turned in an energetic performance and had an insane moshpit going through most of their set.

Paint Brush
Stay The Fuck Away
Old No. 7
Better Than You



After a ridiculously long FIFTY MINUTE changeover (?!?!?!), Raymond Herrera’s drums had the curtain around them removed and Fear Factory emerged with a plain black backdrop behind them. This told me one thing—the music was going to be the focus here and not a fancy lighting show and stage effects. Fear Factory had some ground to make up after releasing nu-metal/rap rubbish like “Back the Fuck Up” with Cypress Hill on DIGIMORTAL and the band has certainly wiped their hands clean of that debacle. This was a METAL show and not a trace of DIGIMORTAL was to be found on the setlist. Right from the get go, the double barrel attack of “Shock” and “Edgecrusher” from OBSOLETE tore through the crowd. The set was heavy with tracks from that album and DEMANUFACTURE and the band even played three dusty classics from their first album, 1992’s SOUL OF A NEW MACHINE. What I noticed most about these, though, was the fact that Bell’s voice wasn’t hitting the low, brutal death growls of the originals. His range is still incredible and he hits the highs extremely well, but his lower range is definitely not what it once was. On tracks like “Archetype” and “Replica,” his soaring clean vocal is unsurpassed. “Timelessness,” an excellent showcase for Bell’s vocals was the only encore and while it boasted a cool light show, the energy was clearly lost with the choice of a six-minute plus ambient number to close the show. Christian Olde Wolbers’ transition over to guitar is seamless and though he certainly lacks the flash of Cazares, his playing is nothing to scoff at. Herrera’s drums were triggered for maximum effect and hearing him AND Gene Hoglan play on the same night was a skinsman’s wet dream. Stroud kind of stayed out of the spotlight as if to give the rest of the band the audience’s attention. His playing was top notch, of course, but his stage presence was noticeably subdued.

Overall, the band was on and deserved the massive response that they received. With ARCHETYPE, Fear Factory have created their best album since DEMANUFACTURE and they still know how to whip up a crowd. Unless you think DIGIMORTAL is the be all end all of Fear Factory albums, this tour will please fans old and new.

Self-Bias Resistor
Zero Signal
Dog Day Sunrise
Slave Labor
Arise Above Oppression


Thanks to Christy at Liquid 8 (www.liquid8records.com)
for the ticket and photo pass.

Fear Factory Official — www.fearfactory.com